As a Physiotherapist, I wish I had a dollar for every time I am asked which shoes are best by one of my clients. The questioning is becoming more frequent and intense as we head into winter sports season (can you believe that clubs are running trials in February?). I found that my answer was always based around the shape of the persons foot. For instance, if the foot was quite flat and rolled inwards then a shoe that increases their arch was my recommendation.
When I began to research this topic I found that there is, in fact, a scientifically valid way for someone to pick the right shoe that will prevent injuries. But the part that baffled me was just how simple and easy it is for anyone to do.
The research discovered that our common beliefs about shoes and running injuries were simply myths.
A large scale study exposed that the ‘flat foot’ did not seem to be an issue that required adjustment. Nearly one thousand amateur runners with various shaped feet were all given the identical running shoe and followed for one year. The results revealed that there were more injuries within the normal feet group, compared to the ‘flat feet’ group.
So what is the simple solution to recommending the perfect shoe? – comfort!
In a study completed in 2001, one group of soldiers were asked to trial six different shoe inserts which all varied in cushioning, arch height, shape, thickness and other variables. Then each soldier was told to remain in the chosen insert that was most comfortable for their feet. The other control group were given standard footwear. After four months of military training, the group who were able to choose the most comfortable inserts had a lower incidence of injury comparing to the control group.
So my advice now is to “let your body decide” as we are obviously very good judges. And no, this does not mean that the appearance of a shoe should influence this decision at all!
On this note, I have asked Daniel Alessi,
a current Western Sydney Wanderer, about his shoe of choice. For Daniel – but not for you unless they are comfortable:
Runners: Nike Luna glide 6
Soccer Boots: Nike Tiempo legend IV