So, now you know your foot type—flat-arched to high-arched, and overpronator to supinator (for those of you who came in late, check out Treadmill on 4 March—The sole of the matter).
One of the best ways to care for your feet is to invest in a good pair of shoes with a good fit, made for running. I used to think that the shoe companies were crazy—separate shoes for cricket, tennis, basketball, running, walking etc. But, if you think about it, your foot movement for each of these activities, and the surface you are on, are totally different. So, it stands to reason that your feet need different sorts of support, just as you would never play tennis with a squash ball or cricket with a baseball.
Extra firm arch support which cannot be depressed
Running shoes are designed for forward motion, so they don’t support you well when you move in other directions. So don’t use them for a variety of sport and expect them to perform well there—no matter how expensive they are.
Running shoes have additional cushioning and strength to absorb shock as your foot hits the ground (normally close to the heel). They take three times your body weight on impact as opposed to walking shoes. So, ensure they have a strong heel—the brands have different names for their materials and technology, such as, adiprene, absorb, gel, shox, air and dmx but, the basic function is similar.
Running shoes should be flexible and light.
Your foot type
“Stability” or ”motion control” shoes are less flexible, have a thicker heel and help decrease excessive pronation. They also tend to have an almost impossible-to-press section in the middle part of the sole, near the arch. A very easy “press test” will show you that.
Shoes for an over pronator. See how the arches are supported. The shoe seems to tilt outward
Look for shoes with extra cushioning (not firm) at the arch area to help absorb the added impact on your foot strikes, if you are a supinator.
Stephen Pribut, a Washington, DC-based podiatrist specializing in sports medicine, has a three-phase sequence for checking stability. First, bend the shoe toe to heel to see where it flexes. If it’s not at the forefoot—where the foot actually bends—be afraid. Then grip both ends and twist in opposite directions. If you can wring it like a towel, that means there’s zero support. Finally, squeeze the heel in both directions, right above the midsole. A stable heel won’t cave in.
|A FEW BASIC TIPS|
|• Know your foot type• Do a bit of research on the Web on shoes for your foot type•Shop late in the day because your feet swell during the day|
|• Try on both shoes with the socks you will wear•Buy for your larger foot (feet are rarely the same size)• Allow a thumb’s width between the shoe and your big toe, else you could find your nails coming off after some long runs• Choose shoes that feel comfortable immediately, both length and width wise• If they hurt in the store, don’t buy them• Look for a moderately priced shoe; price is not necessarily an indication of comfort|
|Back at home:|
|• Wear new shoes around the house before using them on short runs • After you’ve broken them in, they will be more comfortable on long runs|
|• Flip your shoes over once in a while and see how they are wearing out at the sole, other than at the heel, and replace early|
(Rahul S. Verghese is a management consultant and founder of runningandliving.com.)
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