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Orthopedic/Injuries>>Proper Shoe Fit - 1/4/2007

Proper Shoe Fit

1.    Heel Height:  Running in heels that are too low causes excessive pull on the calf muscles and the Achilles tendon. Remember, forces up to three times the body weight are activated every time the foot strikes the ground. Some foot conditions can easily be aided by placing small heel lift or with new shoes with better height.


2.    Heel Cushion:  If the heel cushion is too hard, the heel can become bruised. The rigid foot/high impact foot needs a softer heel. In the normal foot, if the heel is too soft, you sink into your shoes and lose some of the rebound energy that accompanies foot strike.  Too soft of a heel can lead to fatigue.



3.    Heel Stability:  The heel counter at the back of the shoe encircles and holds the heel in place.  In the normal foot, it should be stiff to control heel motion.  The more it prevents excessive rolling in and out the better; however, in the high impact/rigid foot, less stability is desired because the foot/ankle is already rigid.


4.    Forefoot Flexibility: The shoe should bend where the foot bends- at the ball.  If the shoe is too stiff, it can cause shin splints, Achilles tendonitis, or lower leg pain.  The stiff sole causes the muscles in the foot and the lower leg to work excessively.



5.    Toe Clearance:  Toes should have clearance above and straight ahead. If there is extra pressure from lack of room, irritations like blisters, calluses, corns or runner’s blister can form.


  1. Orthotics:  Orthotics are special shoe inserts. In most cases, custom orthotics work best versus “off the shelf”.  Orthotics are like eyeglasses.  If you need a pair, you need your own.  Orthotics can aid in alignment and mechanics to take stress off structures such as tendons.  For example, over pronation causes the lower leg to twist inward, which can cause the knee cap to rub against the long bone of the thigh causing runners knee.  Over pronation can also cause back, hip, knee, arch, ankle or foot conditions.  Orthotics can assist in controlling pronation.  This is only one example.  Orthotics show the best outcomes when a.) the foot/ankle and general posture is assessed in both non-weightbearing and static and dynamic weightbearing (walking) b.) a custom mold is taken  in non-weightbearing (non-compensated position) c.) the shaping of the mold is custom for the footwear d.) proper trial and modifications.   Orthotics can be rigid, semi-rigid or soft; however, only a very small percentage of athletes or fitness buffs wear rigid orthotics.  The foot is meant to bend and flex.  Semi-rigid orthotics are helpful when more stability is required and soft orthotics are preferred for the high arched rigid foot. Individualization is key!


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