THE PROPER SHOE: SHOE SHOPPING TIPS 

Purchasing footwear appropriate for your feet is very important and can help to reduce pain felt in the feet, knees, hips as well as lower back.  The wrong shoe can lead to pain in the above mentioned areas, therefore knowing what to look for is key!
 
To start, all shoes should have the following:

A Strong Heel Counter:  

The heel counter is located at the back of the shoe and surrounds the heel.  The purpose of this feature is to stabilize the heel within the shoe, as well maintain the foot on a straight axis throughout walking or running.  To check and see if your shoe has a strong heel counter, grasp the shoe at the middle of the sole with one hand, with the other, place your thumb low on the heel of the shoe and press firmly.  If you are able to collapse the heel of the shoe, the heel counter is insufficient; look for a shoe with a strong heel counter.  

A Strong Shank:

The shank of the shoe is a bridge between the front of the heel and the ball of the foot.  Its primary function is to reduce “sagging” of the shoe as a natural result of the spring effect of the long arch of the foot upon walking or running.  In order to test for a strong shank, flip the shoe upside down so that the sole is facing upwards, place one hand on the heel of the shoe, and the other just behind the location at which the ball of the foot would sit; try to bend the shoe in half.  If you are able to do so, the shank of the shoe is insufficient; look for a shoe with a strong shank.

 
A strong heel counter and shank are important in reducing movement throughout the middle of the foot, known as either hypersupination or hyperpronation, both of which can wreak havoc on your entire lower limb.
 

Hyperpronation:

What is it?  Technically speaking, hyperpronation is a triplaner motion occurring in all three body planes resulting in abduction, dorsiflexion, and eversion of the foot.  Simplifying this term it literally means that the long arch of the foot collapses medially (towards the midline of the body).  It is often associated with flat feet.  Hyperpronation can cause numerous negative effects on the body such as, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, calf pain, hallux valgus/bunions, patellofemoral pain syndrome, hip pain, low back pain, strained gluteal muscles, tight hamstrings, and iliotibial band friction syndrome to name a few. 
 

Hypersupination:  

What is it?  Technically speaking, hypersupination is a triplaner motion occurring in all three body planes resulting in adduction, plantarflexion, and inversion of the foot.  Simplifying this term it literally means walking on the outside of your foot.  Hypersupination is often associated with high arched feet.  It can also cause numerous negative effects on the body such as decreased shock absorption, resulting in bone pain and aching, knee pain, as well as ankle sprains.
 
Knowing whether your foot pronates or supinates is important when purchasing new footwear.  A simple test can be preformed to help you determine what type of shoe will be correct for you.  We've all seen our footprints in the sand, or on the bathroom floor after a shower, taking note of your footprint can help you to determine your foot type and respectively what type of shoe will be right for you.  If your footprint is very flat, with not much of an arch to it, chances are that you have a tendency to pronate, and require either a motion control shoe, or a shoe with a dual density outsole.  If your foot print is in two distinct pieces, the heel and then the ball of your foot, chances are that you have a tendency to supinate, in which case you need a neutral shoe.  If your footprint is a combination of the above mentioned two then you have a neutral foot (which is ideal) and require a neutral shoe.  
 

By Krystal Lavechia B.A. Kin., C.Ped. (C)