This post comes directly from my Instagram account @standtallbreathedeep. I had to truncate it on IG since I had reached the limit. I’d like to delve more into the subject here, the subject is your feet! This is a tip I share with my massage clients with ankle, knee, or hip issues but everyone could certainly benefit from it.
The bottom of your shoes reveal a wear pattern that gives you vital information on how your body is absorbing shock and distributing weight. This information serves as a helpful tool in finding strategies to manage resulting pain symptoms or even as a guide to help circumvent or decrease injuries that might arise.
It’s holding the key to your foot biomechanics and it’s resulting effects up the kinetic chain.
Start by examining a pair of shoes you’ve worn frequently for at least 4 months, for comparison, grab another pair of shoes to examine. Take a look at the wear pattern on the bottom of each shoe and note where they are most worn out. Compare left to right and two different pairs of shoes. The areas worn out also become evident when viewing them from behind while the shoes rest on a flat surface. Keep in mind the variables, such as; are the shoes being worn for a specific activity? Are they summer/winter shoes?
WHAT TO LOOK FOR?
If you find that the inner edge of the shoe is worn out most, this is a clear indicator of a foot that is over-pronating. What does this mean? First I’ll describe what a neutral pronation is; As our heels touch the ground, the muscles and ligaments that support the arch of the foot, absorb that shock, lengthens and springs back, sending the weight to the outside of the foot which then returns to your big toe – along with the second toe and the others for stability – allow you to propel through the stance. If you are over-pronating, as you take a step, your foot is caving inward at the ankle and the big toe gets left all alone in propelling through the stance. This could lead to overuse injuries involving the big toe (bunions) or shin muscles (shin splints). People with flat feet tend to over-pronate. Over-pronators could benefit from shoes that offer motion control and stability.
Then there is the opposite, under-pronation (aka supination). In this instance, the outer edge of the shoe is worn out. What happens here is, the foot is doing most of the propelling with the small toes. This is often seen in people with high rigid arches. The arch does not flatten enough therefore not absorbing shock or distributing weight efficiently. People with high rigid arches can benefit from cushioned and flexible shoes. Common injuries seen with this condition are; iliotibial band syndrome; plantar fasciitis; to name a few.
NONE OF THE ABOVE
Then there’s me!! My shoe wear pattern can not be placed, and many people will run into this. My shoe wear pattern pictured on the right. I’ve been wearing these sneakers for 10 months for mostly walking and some light gym activity. As you can see the bottom of my right shoe (pictured left), is heavily worn mid-heel, and there’s a small worn patch bottom of my pinky toe. On the left there is also a small worn patch beneath the pinky toe, not much at the heel. I’m self-diagnosing as a slight supinator. I had surgery on my left knee two years ago and my mechanics have changed. I feel it in my foot up to my hips, there’s a difference in the way I move.
WHAT DO I DO WITH THIS INFORMATION?
I’m sharing this information hoping that it’s insightful and helpful. The shoe wear pattern is a simple quick indicator of how your feet are distributing weight and absorbing shock. If you’ve taken a look at your wear pattern and notice an under or over-pronation but are not experiencing discomfort or pain, this would be an excellent time to head over to a running shoe store and have someone go through a gait analysis with you (they usually have someone on staff that is equipped to do this). If you are experiencing pain or chronic tension head on over to your podiatrist or an orthopaedic doctor for a proper diagnosis. There are many remedies, including therapeutic exercise to target specific muscles of the foot, orthotics, focused massage to mobilize the joints of the feet, specific footwear, etc. Combining the wet feet test with shoe wear patterns should give you a solid result in what type of foot type you have. Check out the video below for the wet feet test, I’d like to point out, instead of using a paper towel as the video suggest; I would use a cardboard or a paper bag for better visibility.
I have lots more I’d like to say about this subject. The foot strike is so vital to our integrated body mechanics, a dysfunction at the foot or ankle can travel up to the shoulder. With over 30 joints in the foot, it’s no wonder! Stay tuned for the sequel of this post – Your Toes Should Be Exercising!
Don’t hesitate to contact me for a consultation on a personalized training program. I train conveniently online, until then!
Stand Tall, Breathe Deep-