The Importance of a Good Shoe

By: Wendy Rickard, PT

Shoe quality is not solely dependent on price. Shocker, I know. There are many factors that go into assessing a shoe. Fit, material quality, arch support, heel counter, toe box and gait assessment are all important components of assessment. When I try to help navigate a footwear purchase for my patients I always emphasize the most important question that you should ask yourself is “Do I like the way it feels?”.

Initially, we assess arch height and foot position to determine which category of running shoe would be most appropriate for your individual needs. Do you have a high, low or medium arch? How much do you pronate or drop at your mid and forefoot with walking? Are you a chronic ankle sprainer? How much does your big toe move?

Next, I will usually direct my patients to the list put together by the Hruska Clinic in Lincoln, NE. This is a thoughtful, comprehensive list of running footwear to address most fundamental needs of runners. I encourage them to try on several different brands to see which pairs they prefer. At this point I have the patient bring the shoe into the clinic and that is where the real fun begins.

A good pair of shoes is important, but what is even more important is how does that shoe affect you. A pair of shoes can be life changing, literally. A proper pelvic alignment assessment is done following a brief bout of walking or running in the shoes. The shoes will cause your muscles to either increase or decrease in tone and may alter your current pelvic position and the dynamics of your hip, knee and ankle as you strike with your heel through push off with your toes.

I recommend the shoe that puts you in “the best position” anatomically and allows for the most range of motion at the aforementioned joints. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as the glass slipper fitting. As I stated earlier you must like the shoe. It should not require a breaking in phase.

Lastly, stand on one foot while in the shoe and take that same arm and bring it forward and take your other arm back. This is where we assess how well you are able to feel your foot in your shoe or what your proprioception is like. Can you feel your heel, the inside of your arch and your big toe? If you can answer yes to all these criteria, this may just be the one for you! As always, we are here for you! You don’t have to do this alone. Feel free to call us at the clinic, 308-381-2424 or email me at wendy@rathjenpt.com. Happy running!

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