Take a look at the bottom of your walking shoes. Where do you wear them down? An athletic shoe fit specialist takes that into account when recommending what kind of shoe you should wear, along with watching you walk. The foot normally flattens when it hits the ground and rolls to the inside. If your foot flattens too much or rolls too much or not enough, problems can develop from toes to spine. The proper shoe or insole can straighten things out.
Walking Shoe Wear Pattern Photos
- After initial ground contact, the foot is designed to roll inward to disperse shock
- Over-pronators roll in too much. This causes excessive movement of the foot and lower leg.
- Under-pronators have feet that don't roll enough after ground contact.
- Definition: Excessive inward roll of the foot after landing. The foot continues to roll when it should be pushing off. This twists the foot, shin and knee and can cause pain in all those areas.
- Diagnosis: Excessive wear on the inner side of your running shoes. Your shoes will tilt inward if you place them on a flat surface. Knock knees or flat feet contribute to overpronation.
Remedies: Wear shoes with straight or semicurved lasts. Motion-control or stability shoes with firm, multidensity midsoles and external control features that limit pronation are best. Over-the-counter orthotics or arch supports can help, too. Overpronation causes extra stress and tightness to the muscles, so do a little extra stretching.
Top Picks for Motion Control Shoes
- Definition: Insufficient inward roll of the foot after landing. This places extra stress on the foot and can result in iliotibial band syndrome of the knee, Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis.
- Diagnosis: Shoes that wear on the entire outside edge, with the side of the shoe becoming overstretched. Your shoes will tilt outward when placed on a flat surface. High arches and tight Achilles tendons contribute to supination.
- Remedies: Wear shoes with curved lasts to allow pronation. Lightweight trainers allow more foot motion. Check for flexibility on the inner side of the shoe. Supinators should do extra stretching for the calves, hamstrings, quads and iliotibial band.
Where to Find Help
Self-diagnosis is one thing, but nothing beats finding a real, live fit specialist to analyze your gait. How to find one?
- Look for the "technical" shoe store in your area. This will be a store that caters to serious runners and walkers. The salespeople will be specialists in fitting your foot, and will be out to sell you the RIGHT shoe rather than the most expensive or most trendy.
- Runner's World magazine lists technical shoe stores in every-other issue, so look at the current issue on the newsstand or back issues in your library or online.
- Find the local running magazine or web site for your area and look at the advertisers.
- Look in the phone book for a shoe store that appears to cater to serious athletes. Call and ask if they are a technical shoe store and if they have fit specialists.
- Call or email your local running club, racewalking club, or school athletic department and ask where they recommend finding good shoes. Attend a local race or charity 10K walk/run and talk to the runners and racewalkers.
More Walking Shoe Guide
How to choose the right shoes for your walking style.
When the Shoe Doesn't Fit
How to get a good fit, with tips on lacing, inserts, and custom shoes.