My colleague and foot expert Sandy Connery was kind enough to share her knowledge regarding proper foot wear, comfort and performance.
Take it away Sandy…
I’m a big fan of looking good for workouts. No one is motivated working out in baggy, sweat pants. I look fantastic in my shorty shorts at 6:30 am lunging and jumping around backlit by my TV. Nobody is around to witness my attractive outfits but I continue to choose fashionable apparel I love and that fits so I stay motivated. But this attitude needs to be re-considered when it comes to your footwear. My workout shoes are running shoes that I selected specifically for my foot shape and foot mechanics. They are not something I chose based upon my current favourite colour. This is one, very important key to injury free activity.
Few beginner boot campers realize the amount of pounding that their body will go through on an extremely hard concrete surface. ‘Fashion’ runners’, by a trendy brand name in the latest colour palette, have little cushion, structure or support. Without the right foot positioning and cushioning, it’s up to your ankle joints, knee joints and muscles to attenuate these excessive forces. Without proper footwear, shin splints, heel pain, and knee pain are the result. People tend to blame their new activity for injuries but in fact, it can be poor shoe selection.
As a boot camper, you need a well fit, cushioned runner that is chosen to match your foot mechanics.
Fit– the volume and shape of the shoe must match the volume and shape of the foot. A wide, deep foot needs a wide, deep shoe. A narrow foot needs a thin narrow shoe. A properly fit upper will ‘hug’ your foot and you will feel secure and supported. There should be a finger width beyond your longest toe and the end of the shoe. I am passionate about making sure people’s shoes are fit correctly and for this reason have partnered with New Balance. Their multiple widths make them the best ‘fitting’ brand.
Cushioning- the midsole (the white material between the upper and the outsole) is made of ethyl vinyl acetate or EVA. This material effectively absorbs forces so your body doesn’t have to. The thinner the midsole the less cushioning the shoe offers. Running shoes have the most cushioning.
Matching Foot Mechanics to Footwear – most people’s feet tend to pronate (arches collapse inward) so shoe manufacturers put a higher density (or more firm) material on the inside of the midsole. This firmer material reduces the amount the foot is allowed to roll inward. A qualified shoe fitter should be able to watch you walk and determine your mechanics and guide you to the right level of control. There are three general levels of control; neutral, stability and motion control.
Neutral Cushioning: this type of running shoe has a single density midsole. A neutral shoe’s midsole is a single colour, typically white. Neutral shoes are for a foot that has normal foot mechanics and simply needs shock absorption.
Stability- this type of running shoe has a dual density midsole. This means there is a higher (or firmer) density material on the inside of the midsole. The harder density is typically coloured grey to indicate the harder material. Having this dual density on the inside reduces the amount the foot is allowed to collapse inward. This level of control is for a foot who has moderate over-pronation (collapsing inward of the arch).
Motion Control – this type of running shoe offers maximum control through the use of high density material and some other reinforcing material such as plastic. It is for a foot that has excessive pronation or collapse in the arch.
The descriptions of the different densities apply exclusively to running shoes, which is the best shoe for boot campers. Walking shoes and cross trainers have less cushioning due to the thinner midsoles and don’t have the options in midsole densities like runners do.
Athletic footwear is equipment and is not part of your fashion. Purchase the correct shoe for you and staying injury free will ensure you always look fantastic.
Sandy Connery, BSc, C Ped (C)
Certified Pedorthist (C)
New Balance Calgary & FootHealth Centre