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Yesterday almost felt like Fall– the sun was warm, but the air was chilly and the wind was fierce. So instead of heading straight to the grocery store, I came home first, clipped on my ipod, and laced up a new pair of running shoes (which I won’t be wearing for running). Between walking more and watching my diet (except for that Friday night bag of chips…and the occasional other “it’s not Friday but it should be” bag of chips), I’ve lost (and kept off) close to 8 pounds this year!

I used to hate shopping for 3 things: bras, bathing suits, and shoes. It always ended in tears…but I’m overcoming the shoe thing. I (finally) bought a new pair of running shoes for walking even though I am still in love with my very old, very worn out shoes! I only got part of the way around my route when my right foot started to hurt. Oddly enough, when I tried on these new shoes (among many other contenders including space-age looking and feeling shoes), I only tried it on my left foot. It was very comfortable (and I was comfortable with the price too). I came home and started to research what I should have known before I went shopping…

Right off the bat, I’m told “there’s no single ‘best shoe’ – everyone has different needs. All sorts of things – your biomechanics, your weight, the surfaces you run on, and obviously, the shape of your feet – mean that one person’s ideal shoe can be terrible for another person”.

Good walking shoes should be:
1) Flexible: Shoes should be able to bend and twist. When walking, your foot will flex as you roll through a step from heel to toe. If the shoe is too stiff, your foot will fight it with each step; and
2) Flat: Walking shoes should have a relatively flat heel; and,
The heel should not be flared since walkers strike with the heel first. In fact, a slightly undercut heel is preferred.

The first step in finding your shoe needs is to try a ‘Wet Test’ i.e., a wet footprint on a dry floor to see what amount of stability you need and what features work best.

A normal foot with a normal-sized arch leaves a wet footprint with a flare, but shows the forefoot and heel connected by a broad band. A normal foot lands on the outside of the heel and rolls inwards slightly to absorb shock. It’s the foot of a runner who is biomechanically efficient and therefore doesn’t need a motion control shoe. A print that looks like the whole sole of a foot indicates a flat foot with a low arch – this person will require motion-control features in their shoe. And a print showing a very narrow band or no band between the forefoot and the heel indicates a high-arched foot, requiring shock absorbers features.

So I should have done this before I went shopping (in a department store) but I did it any way and I have a normal foot. Thank goodness something about me is normal!

I guess I’ll just have to satisfy myself with shorter ventures until I “break my shoes in”. Failing that, I may have to shop again…but I hope not! If I have to shop for shoes, I’d much rather shop for heels (even though they aren’t good for me either)!

For a few more tips, check out: http://walking.about.com/cs/shoes/ht/htwalkingshoes.htm

References: http://www.runnersworld.co.uk/shoes/choosing-a-shoe-the-very-basics/481.html