These Boots Were Made for Walkin'

 

I love to run. I thought I had done everything right. I was training safely in my optimal heart rate zone, taking days off to rest, and had even been to a fancy running store and had my gait analyzed through video motion software! Until I started getting severe pain in my left foot. Then I started to do my own research on gait and ideal footwear for runners, or working out in general.

The results were fascinating. Traditional runners and running stores tend to try to “corrrect” everyones gait. They usually will put you in shoes (regardless of if you are in pain or not) to correct pronation (flat arches) which can end up totally altering your gait! I began to think, I’ve never been in pain running before, so why was I running endless miles in stiff shoes that were altering the way my feet naturally move?

Other sources go by the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” motto. I personally resonate much more with this. We are all made up differently physically, and in some cases, such as mine, the restrictive corrective shoes were too much and weren’t allowing me to run properly, causing a slew of problems that I didn’t have before!

Follow these three simple steps below to find the perfect shoe for you!

 

1. WIDE TOE BOX

Most athletic shoes taper at the toe, which, even if it feels like your toes can spread, most likely, they are constricted! Toe splaying is so important for our biomechanics and by restricting the movement in our feet daily, it can cause serious problems! Take a look at the image here. This is an x-ray of 2 different types of shoes. The one on the left is a typical athletic shoe, and as you can see it is definitely restricting toe motion. The one on the right is in a pair of Altra running shoes (one of the brands I use) and the toe box is much wider, allowing for great range of motion! Luckily, many companies are catching on to this trend, and many brands are now offering shoes with a wide toe box.  

2. LOW HEEL-TO-TOE RATIO

Ever notice how on most athletic shoes the heel is much higher than the toe? Most of this is due to the “correction” factor I was talking about earlier. The idea is to provide extra cushion and help induce proper motion. However high heel lifts cause many to “heel strike” or, land on their heels by running. This is not ideal as we should land in the mid-foot or forefoot while running, which takes less energy and put less weight on our knees. Look for a more neutral or minimal shoe, ideally with zero heel to toe drop!

3. PROPER FIT

Most of us wear our shoes a half-size or even full size to small!  This one blew my mind…I was running in size 7.5 shoes and now wear an 8.5! I was always taught to find a snug fit, but we need room to move in our shoes! Of course, you don’t want to be falling out of them but in general it is good to be able to stick 1 finger behind your heel, and your thumb in front of the toes while standing up in them! As we work out and get moving our feet can swell and it is important to have room to move like I mentioned earlier. Here is a great exercise I advise patients to do before going shoe shopping. Take a blank piece of paper and stand on it, barefoot. It is important that you are putting your weight onto the paper! Trace the outline of your foot, and bring the piece of paper with you to the store! When trying on shoes, place the shoe in question on top of your traced foot and you should not be able to see any lines! If you can, the shoe is to small for your foot, it should easily cover the entire outlined area! 

With all these tips, you should be able to find a great shoe with an optimal fit!  Some people may need to help correct their feet with orthotics or corrective shoes, but I know for me once I allowed my feet to move like they were meant to, all of my aches and pains went away! For shoes that I recommend, check out Altra Running, New Balance Miminus, Nike Free, and Skora running shoes….and if you’re really brave Vibram 5 Fingers {I love mine!}

 

LOVE & HAPPY FEET,

DR. ABBY