So the other day I was talking with Anthony over at StrengthCoach.com and he asked me a few questions about my article addressing the importance of foot and ankle function. One of his questions that stuck with me was "how should we select shoes for our athletes/clients?".
This question has inspired me to right an article to fully address this issue, but I will take the time now to touch on some key points. It is of utmost importance that the innate functions of the foot/ankle complex be understood to fully grasp this information.
In general, the foot/ankle complex should provide a base of support, absorb force (pronation), adjust to varying surfaces (pronate/supinate), provide a rigid lever to push off (supination), and appropiately distribute forces up the kinetic chain (pronate/supinate).
So when selecting footwear, one must consider if the individual in question is lacking or excessive in any of the above noted functions of the foot/ankle complex and if the shoe is it to be used for any specific activity (i.e. - running, Olympic lifting, field sports, etc). These two questions will put you on the right path for proper shoe selection as different shoes are made for different foot types and activities. Selecting an inappropiate shoe will negatively impact a person's performance and place them at risk for injury.
For example, let's say you have an individual that has high arches and relatively inflexible feet (a supinated foot). This individual will have problems absorbing force as well as appropriately distributing forces up the kinetic chain. Placing them in a shoe with little cushion and having them perform bounding activities (running, jumping, etc) would not be a very good idea as the inability to attenuate the ground reactive forces will result in pain and predispose them to injury.
Please understand that this is just the tip of the ice berg. Ideally, we should be addressing these problems in an attempt to remove the necessity of "special" shoes unless the activity calls for it.
Stay tuned for the complete article "Understanding Footwear".
Respect & Honor!