Finding the right shoe for exercise.
Finding the right shoe for exercise. Brett Wortman

Make sure the shoe fits

WALKING a mile in someone else's shoes may be widely recommended, but you'd best make sure the shoe fits.

With the active summer months fast approaching and the ghosts of New Year's exercise resolutions past coming back to haunt us, now may be the time to re-evaluate your footwear.

Recent research has found one-in-10 people experience the painful condition of shin splints, due to incorrect footwear.

The study, commissioned by ASICS, also found that just under 40% of people wearing improper footwear experience aching feet.

Maroochydore sports podiatrist Alana Underwood said no one pair of shoes would suit everyone.

"It depends on people's foot structure," she said.

Her general advice is to find the right shoe for your particular feet.

"(Look for) something that fits properly, that laces up, and has a cushioned midsole," Alana said.

The midsole sits between the bottom tread of a shoe and the uppersole, and is the cushioning layer that helps to protect joints from injury.

"Normally (the shoes with midsole look different) but not always."

But it's not just different kinds of feet that require specific shoes.

Each sport also has its own foot support requirements.

To accommodate the sudden changes in direction in tennis and netball, for example, Alana recommends a shoe with both medial and lateral stability, such as a cross-trainer.

She advised people to take into account how much their feet pronate: that is, roll in or roll out, when walking and running.

Most people pronate, and need shoes that provide the right amount of stability when they run, to avoid injury.

Alana also said that when walking, most people tended to have a more central heel-strike (rolling neither in nor out) and, as a result, walking shoes typically did not provide the same stability as shoes designed for running.

"Most people would be safe to go for a cross-trainer," Alana said.

"Also, wearing a walking shoe for walking is fine."

When buying new sports shoes, Alana said the most expensive shoe was not necessarily the best, but good shoes were not usually cheap, either.

"Normally for a good shoe … you're going to pay above $100," she said.

Maroochydore Athlete's Foot franchisee Sacha Facer said the store had a fitting process, and worked to make sure they sold customers the right shoe for their feet, taking into account their health problems, foot type and sports needs. But all shoes wear out eventually, and need replacing sooner or later.

"Most shoe companies will say you get between 600-800km of running out of a shoe," Alana said.

Both Sacha and Alana said the first sign shoes were worn out and in need of replacement was pain.

"(Worn-out shoes have a) lack of cushioning, lack of support, and basically that's when you start getting shin splints and heel spurs and things like that," Sacha said.

But when in the market for a new pair of shoes, both Alana and Sacha recommend people get their feet fitted again to take into account any changes in their bodies.

"What might suit you at 20 might not suit you at 50," Sacha said.

Alana added: "It's worthwhile going to a sports shoe shop and asking their advice."

FOOT FACTS

  • From the 2011 ASICS commissioned Aussie Walk Report:
  • A quarter of Australians surveyed walk less than 10 minutes a week
  • 1 in 3 walk only to get somewhere
  • 45% of strollers combine a walk with a social catch-up
  • Almost half those surveyed did not know they need shoes specifically for walking
  • More than a third admit to wearing the same sneakers for two years
  • The most common ailment related to improper footwear is aching feet (39%) followed by blisters and cuts (32%)


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