Get the right fit every time by following these handy shoe-shopping tips.
Whether you’ve recently embarked on a new exercise routine, or if you’re a regular no-nonsense gym bunny, it’s important to work out wearing the best training shoes for your needs. The right pair is essential for long-term training, helping to prevent pain and reduce the risk of injury later in life.
The first step to finding perfectly fitting sports shoes is to analyse how you walk. The best way to determine how you walk, and what type of shoe you need, is by looking at the size of your foot arch. Your arch can be low, high, or ‘standard’ and controls the way you place your foot when you walk.
Check out your arch by doing a footprint test – wet your foot, step on a piece of paper and trace your footprint. The imprint shows which foot type you have: under-pronation, over-pronation, or a natural arch.
WHAT IS UNDER-PRONATION?
If the footprint shows only a portion of your forefoot and heel, with a narrow imprint of the outer edge of your foot, then you have high arches and tend to ‘under-pronate’ (also known as supinate).
Underpronation means you roll your foot outwards, away from your knee, which causes pressure on the outer edge of the heel and the little toe. The best shoe for you is a cushioned shoe with a soft midsole to encourage your foot to move into the centre.
WHAT IS OVER-PRONATION?
If your footprint shows the entire sole of your foot with little to no curve on the inside, it means you have low arches or ‘flat feet’ which is called ‘overpronation’. Over-pronate feet roll inwards and can create pressure on the outside heel and inside of your foot. You should seek out a shoe that has maximum support to balance out and centre the foot.
WHAT IS A NATURAL ARCH?
If your footprint has a distinct curve along the inside of your foot, this means you have a natural arch and you wear your shoe evenly. The best shoes for your feet have good cushioning, mixed with support to keep the trend even.
SIZE MATTERS: HOW TO FIND YOUR CORRECT SHOE SIZE
Unlike other shoes, its important for your training sneakers to feel comfortable right away, so don’t wait for them to ‘fit better’ or stretch after a few weeks. Your shoe should fit relatively tightly — snug and secure — but not too tight across the top of your foot. And you should be able to wriggle your toes comfortably. Inside your shoe there should be about a 1/2 inch (13mm) between the front of your big toe and the tip of the shoe. Take your own socks along on your shopping trip — a pair that you plan to wear when exercising, and if you wear orthotics, take them along too, to get the perfect fit.
MONEY DOESN’T BUY YOU EVERYTHING
Buying training shoes can be an expensive process, and with so many options on offer, it’s hard to know right from wrong. While it’s justifiable to invest in a good pair of training shoes — since you will be wearing them quite a lot — keep in mind that an expensive shoe doesn’t always mean it’s a better shoe, so instead get the best fit for your foot.
Finally, remember to replace your sports shoes every six to eight months, or when your feet start to feel uncomfortable.
Another indicator that it’s time for a new pair is if you experience pain in your knees, ankles or shins — or the back of the sole becomes worn out, giving you less support.