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Professional advice about buying suitable shoes

  • Written by David Shaw, Podiatrist and Exercise Physiologist

If you walk into a typical shoe store - think The Athlete's Foot - they will have their shoes in categories, pricing from cheapest at bottom to most expensive at top etc... which I'm sure you're aware of. What most people don't realise is that although the cheapest shoes are at the bottom of the wall they almost always the same quality as the other models in their brand. What you pay for is the number of outsole and upper features, kinda like a pizza, same base but cost can go up if you want more on it. These outsole features determine the function of the shoe. Generally these features herd the shoes into 3 main categories:

Control: Usually the most expensive models in each brand and designed to support flatter more hypermobile feet. The purists say these shoes are for "overpronators" and therefore are targetted at around 70% of the population

Stability: These models are usually priced in the mid range of a brand. These are designed for holding a well functioning foot in it's position. Roughly 20% of people have been gifted a "textbook" foot by their parents.

Neutral and / or Cushioning:  Usually least expensive models in a range, these shoes help an "underponating" or "supinating" foot by offering better shock attenuation. Some even encourage the foot to pronate a little.

Here's a good video on shoe types and briefly explains the terms pronating and supinating  -  you don't really need to watch past 5mins unless you want to watch his tremendously chiselled calves demolish a hill climb at 5:15  :)

If you feel the shoes aren't wide enough, don't be shy in asking for a larger "width fitting" which most models offer and most aussies need. This is a little patronising but my #1 rule for shoe fitting is...Always leave the store with shoes your feet feel good in. I know it sounds obvious but I hear of the opposite happening far too often. Unless the shoe is a high grain leather there shouldn't be much "wearing in" to be done. Another tip would be to ensure they have a clear returns policy and only wear the shoes around your house for a few days before venturing into the wild with it. You can even make an appointment with me and we can discuss suitability before you commit to them. Keep your receipt!

Now I mentioned The Athlete's Foot. I don't have any business with them but I respect the company. Started and owned by podiatrists, they seek out podiatry students from uni for all their casual jobs. Staff are trained by pods and they have one of the best "Fit Technician" inductions in the industry. They have great fitting technology with their MyFit 3D and this helps even their least knowledgeable staff get it right for you. They also have an excellent returns policy. You'll pay more there but it's worth it if you think about it more as a consult plus a great pair of shoes. You didn't hear this from me but I always recommend you buy your first pair of shoes from TAF and when you need your next pair just get last years model in the same size (length AND width) from somewhere else or online and you'll save almost half the price of the shoes.

The author

David Shaw, Podiatrist

52 Tweed Coast Rd
Phone: 1300880942
Fax:     1800880973


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