The importance of footwear cannot be over-stated- many injuries can be caused purely from problems with footwear. Any prolonged period spent upright- whether walking, running or standing- should have your feet getting the support that they need. Choosing appropriate footwear partly depends on what kind of foot that you have.
1. Go to a specialist shop that specialises in footwear for runners, and the staff there should be able to advise you on which running shoe is right for you, and if it is an appropriate fit. You will then know the type of shoe to buy next time, rather than just going off what will match your running gear, or what's cheapest!
Broadly speaking there are 3 foot type - flat footed (most people), high arched, and neutral or "normal" arch (although only the minority have a "normal" arch!). If you do alot of mileage, either walking or running, you're probably better off getting a shoe that suits your foot type:
For runners, generally people with neutral feet suit a neutral running shoe, with flat feet suit a stability shoe, and with high arches suit a cushioned shoe.
2. Update your footwear before it wears out:
Another common problem is that people don’t replace their shoes or runners regularly enough. For runners, the general advice seems to be to change your footwear every 300-500 miles run, or every 6 months, whichever comes first.
I would say that how quickly people go through their shoes is highly variable- weight, activity level, walking/running style, terrain and weather conditions can all contribute to footwear losing adequate control. Look at the heels of your runners or shoes- if they are slightly worn down, it is probably time to go shopping.
Click here to read an interview with Catherine in the Irish Times on footwear for marathon runners
3. Watch for seasonal footwear:
We would see alot of foot pain in the summer, when people suddenly switch from their regular footwear to flip-flops or sandals. Of course you want to get your feet out in the summer! But just don't go for long walks in them if you're not used to them!
If you are having symptoms related to your foot biomechanics that cannot be controlled by appropriate choice of footwear, orthotics may be an option. These are custom-made inserts that you can put into all of your footwear. They correct the alignment of your foot to give you the control that you need while running or walking. Our Chartered Physiotherapists can do that in our clinic in Ashford, Co. Wicklow.