If you are not wearing the correct athletic shoe, you may as well not exercise.
Virtually every medical professional recommends exercise for those who are well enough to participate. With the increasing number of people engaging in exercise and a healthy life style, athletic shoe companies are cashing in. There are shoes made specifically for running, walking, tennis, golf, soccer, football, and aerobics. Recently, two of the major shoe manufacturers have even developed shoes that give your body a workout simply by doing everyday activities. It can be difficult to decipher the claims the shoe manufactures make regarding the benefits of their shoes. Unless physical fitness is your business, it takes hours of research to make the correct choice in athletic shoes. Choosing the right athletic shoe is paramount to avoiding spine, lower back and knee injuries, so this is an important decision. This article is provided to educate the average person on the factors to consider when choosing an athletic shoe.
Fashion or function
In the 1970s, Nike produced a basic white tennis shoe with a Nike logo on the side. The color of the logo was the only differentiating factor. Now, athletic shoes are a fashion statement. Some people have shoes to match their jogging suits. Others choose the same athletic shoes that their favorite professional athlete wears. This type of random choice is a serious mistake, and if the wrong shoe is chosen, it may lead to injury. Choosing the right shoe prevents pain and stress on the back, knees, hips, and feet. Failure to choose the correct shoes will cause misalignment of the spine and chronic pain.
It is just a shoe…isn’t it?
Well, not exactly. While an athletic shoe appears to be a simple item, it is actually quite sophisticated. Each shoe is built based on the needs of each athlete. Modern technology enables the manufacturer to transform a simple shoe into a modern marvel. Consider the following examples.
The motions, stress, and forces of recreational activities are diverse. These differences require a shoe that responds accordingly. Consider the differences between running and tennis shoes. A running shoe is designed to protect the feet, knees and back from the stresses of the sport, while increasing athletic performance. Tennis is a sport which involves a substantial amount of back and forth motion. Running on the other hand is typically done in a straight line. Tennis shoes do not typically have elevated heals, as lateral stability is not a factor. In addition, if the heel is too high, it puts the tennis player at greater risk for a sprained ankle. Running shoes have a larger toe area, additional shock absorption, and increased pronation control. If a runner wears a tennis shoe, they will have inadequate shock absorption, and be at greater risk for lower back and knee injury.
These characteristics may seem intuitive, but only to a layperson without advanced knowledge of kinesis. For example, running shoes and walking shoes might appear to be interchangeable, but they are not. It is assumed that since both activities occur in a straight line, that a running shoe would be appropriate for walking. Furthermore, many people might assume that since running shoes are designed for a much greater impact than walking produces, the running shoe might be a better choice. Wrong again! Runners make contact with the ground on their heels. Walkers tend to have midfoot contact. A walker who wears a running shoe does not have enough shock absorption in the mid part of the foot which, again, increases the risk for injury to the joints and spine.
In summary, more thought goes into athletic shoes than one would think. Choosing the right shoe for your particular activity is only the first step in the process. Each shoe type has numerous options and features; there is no such thing as a basic running shoe. This leads us to the second consideration when purchasing an athletic shoe; your foot type. There are 3 types of feet: normal, high arched and flat.
Normal Foot – A normal foot has an even step and a normal arch. The normal foot points straight ahead and leaves a complete footprint. A step with a normal foot will land on the outside of the heel and roll slightly inward to evenly distribute the shock. The best shoe for a normal foot provides overall stability and has a slightly curved shape to contour to the foot.
Flat Foot – Flat feet are exactly that, they are flat on the ground with no, or a low arch. The footprint left by a flat foot is a complete imprint of the sole of the foot. If flat feet are not fitted properly with the right type of shoe, the person will experience knee problems from regular everyday activities. The best shoes for flat-footed people are high stability shoes with firm midsoles. Shoes with a lot of cushioning are not a good choice.
High Arched Foot – High arched feet have minimal shock absorption ability. The high arch minimizes the sole of the foot and limits the area for shock absorption to the outer rim of the foot. Feet with very high arches tend to be underpronated. Because the foot does not pronate enough, it is not a good shock absorber. The best shoes for people with high arches have a high amount of flexibility and a lot of cushioning to absorb the shock of athletic activities.
Feet are the foundation of the skeletal system. Just as a home will suffer structural defects if the foundation is not solid, your body will suffer if you do not purchase the correct shoes. If you have been exercising while wearing improper athletic shoes, you may already have suffered injury as a result. Chiropractic care is a successful way to treat these injuries and relieve your chronic pain. Once you are pain free, you can resume your exercise activities.