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Posted on 04-30-2014

A recent article (link at the bottom of article) in a monthly publication I read discussed this topic and was quite informative, going through various research and providing some insight on HOW to pick shoes based on foot type, etc. 

In our office, we see plenty of foot / ankle / calf problems that arise from working out, running, or even just walking.  People will often wonder “maybe it’s my shoes?” or they’ve already replaced their shoes and sometimes it helps a little, sometimes not at all.  Frustrating…especially when you just spent $50-100 or more.

From the article, I’ll summarize the findings:


  • Width: the widest part of the shoe should match the widest part of the forefoot

  • Length: a few millimeters should exist between the tip of the longest toe and shoe 

  • Shape: if you have a ‘straight’ foot, the shoe should not curve inward at the toe, and vice versa, if your foot curves inward, so should your shoe.  Flip the shoe upside down and look at the shape and compare to your foot


  • The mid-sole should feel “comfortable”.  This was cited as one of the most important factors

  • If you heel strike when running, you probably need more cushioning under the rear-foot of the shoe. 

  • If you are a mid-foot striker, you will likely prefer a shoe with a zero-drop.  This is a measurement that any shoe retailer can give you information on as the companies list this measurement on the shoes. 

        FOOT TYPE

  • Flat feet: avoid “motion control” shoes because they dampen sensory input and they are very stiff which can produce ankle/knee injuries.  Flat feet tend to do better with slightly stiffer mid soles.

  • High arched feet: tend to like shoes that are the most flexible in the mid foot.  To test: simply grab the shoe and twist it, it should twist very easily without much force at all.

The author also interestingly noted the minimalist “five finger” shoes have been shown to cause a higher injury rate due to lack of protection/cushioning.  While some will do well with these and swear by them (we have patients who do), the findings have been that most people will not.  

We agree with the author that the best shoes for each person are going to be ones that fit the shape of their feet, both in width/length and shape of the foot and height of the arch, and then most importantly, the preferred stiffness of the mid-sole of the shoe.  


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