Written by: Stephanie Blozey, Fleet Feet Sports West Hartford, CT
Many people wonder why we don't use a "foot scanner" that you can step on to determine what shoe or insole is right for you. These computerized scanners, which are being installed in drug stores and superstores, show your foot's pressure points and arch type. It's a fancy way of doing the "Wet Test": wet your feet and stand on a surface, like a brown paper bag, that leaves a visible footprint. The wider the band that connects your heel and ball, the lower the arch you have.
Your arch type effects your biomechanics and is an important component of choosing the right shoe for your foot, but it is only part of the FIT story since at least 20% of people's arches act differently than they "should". Here at Fleet Feet Sports, our FIT Process has three main components that help us define your foot and make the best shoe recommendations for you: foot morphology, biomechanical assessment and "other".
Foot morphology is a fancy way of saying that we analyze your foot size, shape and arch type. This is done by visually looking at the foot statically and dynamically (important since you are in motion when you run!) and taking multiple measurements with an old-fashioned Brannock device. This helps us to choose the right size shoe and shoe brand since each shoe company fits a certain shaped foot better. That is why your friend may swear by his Asics shoes, but they cause you pain.
Next, we examine your biomechanics by determining your arch flexibility and doing a gait analysis (either watching you walk barefoot or with our video gait analysis software). This tells us if you overpronate, supinate or are naturally efficient which in turn, governs what type of shoe (neutral, stability or motion control) you need, as well as the curvature of your shoe's last. Key here is arch flexibility since a rigid arch needs extra cushioning to help attenuate the shock produced when the foot hits the ground at forces of 2-4 times body weight. Whereas, a flexible arch disperses shock better, but all that flexibility in the mid and fore foot can cause overpronation which stresses and torques your feet, shins, knees, hips and back causing its own host of problems.
Finally, we take other special considerations into account like your gender, weight, training surface, weekly mileage, injury status, orthotics and structural deviations in the foot like bunions and extra bones. We put all this data together and bring out 2-3 pairs of shoes that we think will fit you best. Don't be surprised if one of those first shoes feels amazing - it means that we did our job right!
When you think about it, the foot is a marvelous structure. It has 28 bones (including the sesmoids), 33 joints, 112 ligaments, plus tendons, nerves and blood vessels that work in unison to support, balance and propel your body. No two feet are exactly the same nor do they always fit into a specific category. Don't cheat your feet and let a computer scan recommend an orthotic or running shoe for you. An injury is going to cost you a lot more, monetarily and mentally, than a good pair of shoes. Invest in your feet. Let our Fit Professionals teach you about your feet and help you find the perfect fit. We guaranteed it!