CHOC Recommends Tips for Choosing the Right Shoes and Avoiding Injury

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. To avoid pain and injury while participating in athletic activities, check out the following guidelines to ensure that you and your family are wearing the proper shoes for your body and foot type, as recommended by the experts at the CHOC Children’s Orthopaedic Institute.

The alignment of your feet while standing, walking or running may be described as “neutral” (or “normal”), “flat” or “rigid.”

Neutral means the border of your foot curves slightly off the floor when standing, creating a visible arch.

Flat means that the border of your foot nearly or completely touches the floor when standing.

Rigid means that your weight is on the outside border of your foot when standing or walking.

Choosing the proper shoes for your foot type will help keep your foot and body better supported when walking and playing. Specialty athletic/running shoe stores will be best equipped to help you find the right shoes for your foot type. However, if you know what you are looking for, you should be able to find the right shoe anywhere.

If you have flat/overpronated feet, look for shoes that have:
1. A straight last. This means the bottom of the shoes is relatively straight.
2. A rigid sole. When you twist the shoe holding the toe and the heel, it does not move much.
3. Medial posting. The inside border of the shoe has extra firm plastic to prevent the inside border of your foot from collapsing; it is also called “arch support.”
4. A firm heel counter. When you squeeze the heel of the shoe near the sole, it should feel firm.

You can also improve the arch support of your current shoes by removing the insoles and putting in over-the-counter orthotics. These are sold at athletic shoe stores and in the CHOC outpatient pharmacy.

If you have rigid/supinated feet, look for shoes that have:
1. A curved last. This means the bottom of the shoes is relatively curved. Turn the shoe upside down and look to make sure the border is curved.
2. A flexible sole. When you twist the shoe holding the toe and the heel, it moves well. Shoe companies may call this “torsion” or “shock absorption.”

Be sure to make an appointment with your child’s physician should you have any questions or concerns, or if your child is experiencing pain tied to his or her feet, ankles, knees, hips, or spine. Your child’s physician will be able to advise on the proper treatment and ensure that your little one’s feet are getting the best care possible!

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