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When it comes to foot health, how important is it to have appropriate running shoes? Why?

As many decide to get back into the gym routine we often overlook our foot wear choice.  Wearing the wrong shoes may lead to problems such as lowered performance, discomfort such as in plantar fasciitis and runner’s knee, injuries, and even early-onset arthritis. On the other hand (or other foot, pun intended), shoes designed to compensate for the impact of your feet can help prevent injuries and improve structural alignment and performance.

To determine your foot type look at the soles of a pair of worn-in pair of shoes. The wear patterns illustrate where you are accumulating pressure when you walk. Certain foot types are more prone to specific types of foot discomfort and foot related injuries. For instance, people with plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, shin splints, or inner knee pain, tend to have flat feet and be pronators, which means your feet roll inward. People who commonly sprain their ankles or have outer knee pain in contrast, and tend to be supinators because they have higher arches and roll outward.

 There are three wear patterns to look for in your shoes.The first is the top outer edge. If your shoe is worn out in this area you’re a supinator or an underpronator. With this foot type you will need Cushioning sneakers for shock absorption. If your shoe are evenly worn you are neutral and have an average gait with equal weight distribution across the foot. With this foot type you need Stability or moderate-stability sneakers, which offer a balance of cushioning and support. If you notice that your shoes have the top inner edge worn, you’re a pronator. With this foot type you need Motion-control or high-stability sneakers to keep your feet better aligned with your legs. 

If you are a supinator, look for shoes with soft, flexible midsoles and look as if they don’t have an arch but are rather filled in with more sole and cushioning as this foot type doesn’t provide enough shock absorption on its own. When picking a running shoe pick one with extra rubber incorporated into the sole which translates to a smoother and bouncier gait. When picking a shoe for cross-training pick a shoe with flexible grooves in the sole to facilitate ballistic pivoting and cutting.

If you’re neutral, fortunately, with this type you distribute weight evenly across your feet so motion control is not critical as stability. A lightweight shoe that bends just to the ball of the foot will be sufficient enough to offer a good balance of cushioning and support. When picking shoes for cross-training pick shoes that have soles that look like a slinky which help put an extra spring in your step. When picking shoes for running look for a shoe that provides traction and reduces instep strain.

If you’re a pronator, look for shoes that have the presence of a dense supportive arch which helps provide reinforcement and keep the arches of the foot from collapsing. These shoes tend to be fairly stiff and will flex only near the toe area. When picking shoes for cross training choose a side a wide toe box allows for comfortable lateral movement as pronating feet will collapse and spread within the shoe. When picking shoes for running pick a shoe with stabilizing roll bars to help protect the arches.

Stay tuned..Our next blog post will focus on the 3 most important features you should look for when picking out a pair of sneakers.

Dr. Miguel Cunha Dr. Miguel Cunha, founder of Gotham Footcare and a leading podiatrist in Manhattan, is a highly trained and skilled foot and ankle surgeon with experience treating a wide array of foot and ankle conditions from minor problems to complex reconstructive foot and ankle surgery. Dr. Cunha takes pride in having a genuine interest in each and every one of his patients while providing them the utmost compassion and exceptional care.

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