Footwear Facts

One quarter of the body’s bones exist in the feet (52 Bones in a pair of feet) and knowing throughout the lifetime of an average person, they will approximately travel 128,000kms (this is equivalent to traveling around the world three times) it shows that healthy feet are important to a person’s health and wellbeing.

It is worth noting that around 40% of all Australian’s will have a foot problem in their lifetime, and this is due to nature and complexity of the foot structure and how much demand we place on them day to day.

Thus, it is very important that we protect and treat our feet well, and one way of doing this is understanding footwear.

Choosing the correct shoe for your foot will go a long way to preventing foot and lower-limb related pathologies. So this page is to give you some tips on choosing a good shoe for your foot.

The following information is for your education purposes (although does not intend to replace ‘professional podiatric advice’).

Necessary Footwear Features

  • Firm Heel Counter – Assists in stability/alignment of rearfoot, allows for orthotic device.
  • Minimal Midfoot Flexibility – Minimal torsion and flexibility to allow for efficient rearfoot to forefoot transition and decrease midfoot motion.
  • Bend At Forefoot – Flex point under MPJ’s and allow for efficient resupination and toe-off.

Basic Components of Athletic Footwear

  • Outsole – Treated layer under shoe surface. This is sually made of ‘Carbon Rubber’ or some form of high abrasion rubber. Resists excessive wear and provides traction.
  • Midsole – Between upper & outsole (cushioning & stability layer). Common materials used EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) or PU (polyurethane) or a combination. This is the region in which manufacturers place high-tech cushioning/support properties.
  • Last – Inside shape of shoe (designed around 3 dimensional models). Three basic shapes: straight (relatively straight line from middle heel to middle of toe), curved (markedly curved inward at the insole) & semi-curved last (splits the difference with slight curve at the insole). The shoe is attached to last via the following techniques: slip lasting (upper is pulled over last and glued/stitched to midsole), board lasting (upper is attached of a bottom of a flexible board atop of midsole) & combination lasting (uses the board method in the heel and the slip method in the forefoot).
  • Upper – Wraps around top of foot (leather/synthetic/mesh), lightweight and breathable. The upper contains the tongue, to cushion the foot against the laces.
  • Heel Counter – Firm and inflexible cup, built in upper surrounding heel. This part of the shoe controls the rear foot
  • Cushioning Systems – Materials placed in midsole to provide regions on cushioning for real osseous regions on the foot (i.e. heel & forefoot). Gel (silicon in PU), porous foam (silicon based), and forms of encapsulated air.
  • Insole – Removable sock liner (EVA sockliner moulded to shape of foot mainly).
  • Lacing – The number of eyelets can vary between the type of shoe.

Tips On Choosing Shoes

  • Purchase shoes near end of the day – as feet may be mildly swollen
  • A good rule is to leave a ‘thumb width’ from your longest toe to the end of the shoe (this will vary as to what you are using the shoe for – i.e. a racing shoe may need to be tighter and wrap around the foot to secure it).
  • Try on a few brands that make a similar shoe, as you may find that some brands may fit the shape of your foot better than others.
  • Footwear sizing varies between different brands.
  • Try both shoes on (left & right) as it is common to have one foot larger than the other.
  • When buying a shoe for a purpose, make sure you try it out for that purpose (i.e. if you buy a running shoe, ask if you can use a treadmill, and do a small jog. If you are buying a shoe for volleyball, make sure you jump and test it out)
  • If the shoe does not feel comfortable when you first try it on, there’s a good chance that it may never feel comfortable.
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