Everyone’s feet move differently so there is no single ‘best shoe’. Your biomechanics, your weight, the surfaces you walk on, and most importantly the shape of your feet, all mean that one person’s ideal shoe is not necessarily right for another person.
Understanding which shoe is best for you begins by understanding the biomechanics of your feet. Wetting the bottom of your foot and walking onto a dry floor or piece of paper can help you understand the amount of stability you might need in your shoe.
The Normal or “Neutral” Foot
Normal feet have a normal-sized arch and will leave a wet footprint that has a flare with 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 the shock.
Best shoes: Stability shoes with moderate control features.
The Flat Foot
The flat foot has a low arch and leaves a print which looks like the whole sole of the foot. It usually indicates an over-pronated foot – one that strikes on the outside of the heel and rolls inwards (pronates) excessively. Over time, this can cause many different types of overuse injuries.
Best shoes: Motion control shoes or high stability shoes with firm midsoles and control features that reduce the degree of pronation. Be careful to stay away from highly cushioned, highly curved shoes which lack stability features.
The High-arched Foot
The high-arched foot leaves a print showing a very narrow band or no band at all between the forefoot and the heel. A curved, highly arched foot is generally supinated or under-pronated. Because it does not pronate enough, it is not usually an effective shock absorber.
Best shoes: Cushioned shoes with plenty of flexibility to encourage foot motion. Stay away from motion control or stability shoes, which reduce foot mobility.
Having your feet assessed during standing, walking and running by an experienced physiotherapist is the best way to determine your foot type. There are also many shoe stores with experienced professionals who can assess your feet eg Athlete’s Foot.