One of the most common questions asked by people before starting any type of workout regime is what shoes do we get? In fact with the Oxfam 100 km Trailwalker challenge just around the corner, this topic has gained more attention. Imagine walking 100km or running 42 km or hiking or trekking without proper shoes. It could just be disastrous. And history is a witness that most people back out from such challenges midway not because of lack of motivation or because they are tired. But give up largely due to foot injuries caused due to bad shoes.
Why it is important to choose the right footwear?… A very Important aspect of workout which is often neglected.
A good workout is achieved with good footwear. Bad shoes can derail all the efforts that you have put into your workouts and bring your fitness to a standstill due to injury. Strenuous outdoor workout or long distance running puts increased amount of pressure on your feet and therefore wearing the right shoes are important to prevent injury.
According to University of Illinois’ McKinley Health Centre’s note on foot type and proper footwear, foot problems are one of the most common health complaints. The high incidence of foot problems is understandable given the fact that there are 26 bones, 33 joints, 112 ligaments, and tendons, nerves, and blood vessels in the foot. It’s even more understandable when the weight of the body is considered. The force of the body weight borne by the foot increases roughly 1½ times during walking and up to 3-4 times during running. Add in 10,000 steps during a typical day while wearing ill-fitted shoes possibly, and it’s a wonder one’s feet are willing to get out of bed the next day.
A condition called Plantar Fasciitis i.e. damage and inflammation to Plantar Fascia (a connective tissue on the sole of foot forming the inner arch) is caused due to repetitive activity creating a strain on the plantar fascia.
Another common condition often faced by people is Achilles Tendonitis i.e. tissue damage and pain to Achilles Tendon caused during the contraction of the calf muscles. When the calf muscles contract some amount of tension is created on the Achilles Tendon and Wrong footwear further adds to that stress.
Let us now understand the three main categories of foot types :
1: Normal (Medium) Arch : If you see about half of your arch region filled in, you have the most common foot type. Usually, this means you have an arch that naturally supports your bodyweight and pronates normally under load. Some pronation or “rolling in” of the foot is desirable and acts as a natural shock absorber. Most runners with this pattern can wear just about any shoe.
2: Flat Floot (Absent curve) : If the arch of your footprint is filled in, it’s likely that your foot collapses inward when you run. This acts as a shock absorber, but the additional rolling in of your foot may stress your feet and knees, adding to your injury risk. Usually, it is recommended that shoes with more stability, such as internal wedges that build up the arch side, dual-density midsoles, and supportive “posts,” or wider, more substantial midsoles be used.
3: More or High Arch: If your footprint shows little or no contact along the outside edge and you see just your heel and the ball of your foot, you have a “high” arch. Your foot may not roll in much when you run, but it doesn’t absorb much shock. We would usually recommend you use a well-cushioned shoe with little or no arch support or stability features.
Here are a few basics to keep in mind
- A good shoe must be very comfortable and must provide good cushion
- Good grip on the floor to avoid sliding or skidding
- It is important to understand your foot type. Visit a store that specializes in all kinds of sporting and athletic footwear. The associates there can help you find a shoe that’s appropriate for your foot type, the way you walk, and your sport.
- The right time to buy a shoe is in the evening when your feet are tired and there is more swelling in the feet.
- For Sportspersons variety of shoes are available depending on the type of sport.
- Running shoes have inbuilt shock absorbers, walking shoes are light weight and for Hiking one can choose low, mid or high cut shoes. High cut shoes or commonly known as Ankle shoes protects the ankles and provides more protection. And, finally, there are the cross training shoes which are suitable if you do more than one type of workouts.
- One size larger than your usual shoe size is better in terms of trekking and trail running shoes.
A good shoe must support your foot, front and back and provide protection, stability, and good shock absorption.
Investing in good quality shoes can make your workout, running, or hiking very pleasant and injury free.