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Choosing the right athletic shoe for your foot is key to moving comfortably, efficiently and safely.
When looking for an athletic shoe, the first step is to determine what type of foot shape you have. Foot shape can be divided into three categories based on pronation, or how much the arch of your foot collapses when you walk:
People with a neutral arch typically should look for a neutral shoe. Neutral arches tend to lend themselves to a lower injury rate and less problems, as long as the shoes do not wear out. Runners should replace their shoes every 4-6 months or every 300-500 miles, whichever comes first.
People with high arches need a cushion-type shoe and may benefit from a custom orthotic to reduce the likelihood of injury. People with high arches put more weight on the outside of their feet. This weight displacement can lead to injuries such as stress fractures, calluses on the heel and ball of the foot, plantar fasciitis (heel pain) and frequent ankle pain.
People with flat feet need to wear motion-control shoes. People with flat feet tend to roll inward with their foot and ankle when they walk. This continued motion can lead to Achilles tendonitis, bunions, hammertoes, plantar fasciitis and even ankle sprains. Flat-footed individuals can also benefit from custom orthotics to help prevent these problems.
Note: If you have Achilles tendonitis or plantar fasciitis, you will want to wear a shoe with a slight heel to take pressure off of the Achilles tendon or plantar fascia.
Whether we admit it or not, most of us want to wear athletic shoes that feel good and look good. However, there are a couple of popular athletic shoe types that can increase your risk of injury.
Zero-drop shoes, which are very flat and have no heel, are associated with plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis. Barefoot shoes, which were popular several years ago, offer no foot support, and I saw a lot of resulting stress fractures.
Improper fitting shoes can cause foot pain and can even lead to stress fractures, hip and knee arthritis, shin splints and meniscus tears. Get to know your foot type and follow the tips above to choose an athletic shoe that’s right for you.
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