Let’s be honest. Many of us will choose a shoe because of the look; flashy colors, cool designs, and brand names we prefer. That might work just fine if you’re looking for a cute heel to wear out to dinner, or a nice tennis shoe to wear with your favorite pair of slacks. However, when it comes to choosing a shoe in the name of fitness, there is much more to the process than going with what is visually appealing.
If you have read any of my past posts, you know I am a die-hard runner, but take heart! This blog post is NOT just about choosing a good running shoe. The correct selection of what to put on your feet is vital in all forms of fitness. The wrong shoe selection can result in numerous injuries, or will hinder performance.
Personal experience: Throughout high school I swore by running in all shoes made by Saucony. I loved the look of them, and my two closest running-buddies used them as well. Unfortunately, I had no idea that the shoes I continued to wear were the root cause of the countless blisters I would get, and pain in my arch. I had no idea this all could have been avoided by simply choosing a different shoe.
My wake-up call came when I got to college. Just as my first season of Cross Country was underway, our coach had a speaker come and talk to us about proper shoe selection. I was blown away by how much the wrong and right pair of shoe can make a difference in both training and competition. I followed the proper procedure for picking a shoe, made the switch to the Asics-Keyano, and have not had a problem since. It was a miracle!
There are a few things to take into consideration when choosing your shoe. The most important is how high or low your arch is. A good way to determine about where you are at is to get your feet wet and walk on pavement, leaving a footprint.
Using this picture as a guideline, you should be able to look at your footprint and determine what type of arch you have.
If you visit any shoe company’s website, they will more than likely have shoes categorized by arch types. You will also want to determine how much control you want in the shoe. A high stability shoe will give you both stability and cushioning. On the opposite side of the spectrum is the minimal shoe. This type of shoe is going to let your feet do the majority of the work, but it helps build foot and leg strength. Word of caution: If you are currently using a stability shoe, and want to switch to a minimal shoe, it is wise to do so slowly. If you make a leap, your feet and legs may not respond well. I am currently making the change, so I rotate a semi-minimal shoe into my running rotation every three days.
If you are not yet certain you want to begin running “minimally”, check out this article about pros and cons.
This all may seem a bit overwhelming, especially if you have never given thought to what type of shoe you are wearing. No worries! If you visit a shoe company’s website, there is usually plenty of guidance. For a great example, check out this Asics website.
Another option is to go to a good shoe store; aka one that specifically sells and specializes in athletic shoes. Employees will work with you to make sure you find a shoe that is perfect for the type of activity you do.
Remember, this is not just for people who compete. This is for anyone who loves to work out, and keep their body healthy and injury-free along the way. If you take the time to find the right type of shoe, it can really help your fitness level.