The Wet Test
First- Flat arch, Second- High arch, Third- Normal arch
How the foot works
When choosing the right shoe there are two things you should look at; your foot type (height of arches) and how your foot reacts when striking the ground (pronation or supination). To test arch height, you can perform the wet test. Place your feet in a shallow pan of water and step onto a sheet of paper. The wet test will show your arch height as normal, flat or high. When having a normal arch, your foot pronates or rotates inwards when the foot hits the ground without letting the arch collapse too much. A flat arch will allow the foot to over-pronate and place extra stress on the body. A high arch isn't allowing the foot to collapse to absorb ground action forces and is being rotated outward toward the outside of the foot.
When the foot is not working correctly, you set yourself up for injury. Without supporting and correcting the arch, the foot will go into either over-pronation or supination. Over-pronation is when the arch flattens out during weight bearing movements, which causes the knee and foot to rotate inward. When there is too much inward rotation, strain gets placed on the muscles, ligaments and tendons of the foot, knee, leg and hip.
Over-prontaion can cause shin splints, stress fractures, arch strain, fatigue, heel spur syndrome, plantar fascitits, Achilles tendintius and bunions if not corrected.
Supination is caused when a high arch doesn't flatten out when stress is placed upon it and the foot rolls outward. Common injuries are Achilles tendinities, plantar fascitis, heel neuroma, heel spur, and Tailor's bunion.
When trying to prevent these injuries from occurring you need to check the exercise surface and the shoes. Below is a helpful chart when buying shoes.
When you're looking for shoes, keep the following tips in mind.
• Buy from a store that will ensure proper shoe type and fit. If you order online, verify the store's return policy.
• Get fitted in the evening, when your feet are largest. There should be half an inch between the longest toe and the toe box.
• If you wear orthotic inserts, bring them along when trying on shoes.
• Look for fitness shoes that feel immediately comfortable; they should not have to be broken in.
• Untie shoes before removing them; taking them off by stepping on the back ruins the heel counter.
• Don't dry your shoes in the dryer, as the excessive heat will degrade the components.
• Replace shoes every 6 months.
• To determine wear, look for wrinkling and/ or compression of the sock liner in the midsole.
Source: Adapted from Asplund, C.A., & Brown, D.L. 2005. The running shoe prescription: Fit for performance. The Physician and Sports medicine, 33(1), 299-303.
With many different shoes to choose from the most expensive one is not always the best. Make sure the sole is not too stiff or restrictive and buy a shoe for the activity you're doing. Runners buy running shoes and hikers buy hiking shoes. These shoes will be the best fit and reduce the chance of injury.