For sneaker type shoes (shoes with removable insoles):
It used to be we would go to a shoe store and the clerk would measure our feet for length and width. Now days, many people shop where there is no assistance that way, and just pull boxes for the size they have always worn for years. I hope these shoe buying guidelines will be helpful.
The shoe manufacturers use a lot of confusing lingo and their terms are inconsistently used across the industry. So even though they give you a written or verbal description, it's practically impossible to tell what you're actually getting in the shoe, how much of whatever, and exactly where they have put it. Why not Anti-Pronation, Motion Control, or Stability Shoes? These terms all mean they have added something, somewhere in the shoe. It may be counterproductive to what the body will want to do with our insoles and diminish their effectiveness.
When I go shopping I ask for "a neutral shoe, no bells & whistles built into it, flexible so it facilitates the natural motion of my feet and minimal to moderate cushioning." Then I judge by how it fits me. Our insole makes the foot work better as its own natural shock absorber so you produce a softer heel strike. Be conservative on cushioning. Excessive cushioning can contribute to instability of the foot that your body instantly picks up on and responds by tightening muscles to counteract the queasy signals your brain is receiving from your feet. An Australian study identified air cushioned shoes as a high predictor of ankle injuries. You get the same result in the current fad of rounded soft soled shoes. Our insoles work in MBT's, but we don't recommend them. They do shorten the stride, thus softening the heel strike and are essentially "rocker soles" designed originally for people who could not flex their toes. So this isn't a natural gait and what we promote is natural toe and foot function with balanced motion. Because the sole is soft, especially for those that supinate as a compensation for overpronation, these shoes tend to increase instability and can cause ankle twisting/sprains. The same applies for the Sketchers copy as well.
I can't recommend specific brands and model numbers because, as we all know, shoes are fashion driven and they change constantly. Some shoe companies like Rockport and New Balance seem to hang onto their fabrication lasts which makes them a bit more consistent on their shoe shapes, even though the uppers are changing all the time. My advice is always: "If you find a great shoe that fits and feels just right, buy several pair because you may never see that shoe again."
Be your own quality control inspector. Find a shoe that is flat. Set them on a counter to see that they don't wobble side to side. Examine from the back end to make sure the "upper material" was sewn on straight so it doesn't slant in or out. A little heel is OK, but no lumps or bumps, toe grips, sunken heels, anti pronation, motion control or stability devices.
Most people do best in a straight last. (A last is a mold shape that the shoe is built around.) An example of a straight last is a Converse sneaker. People, who have very high arches, even when standing, may be more comfortable in a curved last. Flip the shoe over and examine the bottom from heel to toe. You don't want the exaggerated banana shape curve.
Choose a flexible shoe that accommodates the natural motion of your feet and bends where your toes bend (doesn't dig into your toes.) The mid-sole on many shoes are too rigid. Personally, if the shoe is so stiff it's trying to pull off my heel I won't consider it.
Make sure the shoes fit comfortably snugly in the width. If your foot can slide from side to side in the forefoot, the shoe is too wide. Wearing our insoles will make your foot twist less within the shoe making a wider size unnecessary and undesirable. Make sure the shoes are sufficiently long. You should have about a thumb width in front of the longest toe.
What about the shoes they already have?
- The idea is to facilitate natural motion of the feet. Motion control shoes are sometimes shimmed along the inside to minimize or slow pronation, but if you think about the mechanics, I think you'll agree that shimming the whole foot like that, tilting it outward is more like walking on top of a peaked roof with a foot on each side. It's not natural and it's not mechanically correct. Some shoes achieve the same thing by using multi-density midsoles that are softer on the outside versus the inside. We don't like them either. Take a look at the shoes of a severe bracer. They favor the outside of their feet and turn their shoes into "motion control shoes" by wearing the outside hard. Their pronation problems still persist. Worn out shoes like that should be tossed.
- Our purpose is to stimulate the muscles to correct the gait. It's an easy concept to visualize when you pretend to pick up a towel from the floor with your feet, and notice how that motion lifts your arches. That proves we have muscular control over our arches. Arch supports make this muscle action unnecessary, and consequently weakens your feet.
- Our patented forefoot technology stimulates your feet and body to do the motion control, not the shoe. The ProKinetic Insoles® do it by changing the timing of when the first metatarsal feels the ground and becomes weight bearing. It brings the first metatarsal to the ground like the above exercise (often called the Janda small foot exercise), stabilizes the foot and prevents it from excessive pronation and at the same time eliminates the need for many people to overcompensate by supinating their feet.
Most shoes will do fine so long as they are not too worn, so take a look at the out sole wear. Some shoes also have weak midsoles. A quick feel inside will let you know that there aren't any compression spots. You usually find them underneath the high pressure points of the foot like in the ball of the foot area behind the second-third toes. Many people blow out the lateral side of their shoes in the forefoot, effectively making the shoe wider. They're goners!!
Your questions are always welcome.