Two big questions a lot of patients have is, “What is the best shoe brand?” or “What shoes should I wear for my feet?”. This is a very hard question to answer without doing further assessment as everyone’s foot is different. Some people have narrow feet, others have standard width or wide feet. Some people have smaller feet and others have bigger feet. Plus, there are different types of foot arches which affects the shoes that people require.
There are 3 different types of foot arches. These include a flat foot, a normal foot, and a high arch. Each arch has a different repercussion for posture, support, and higher risk of injuries.
A flat foot is when the foot rolls inwards and majority of your foot touches the ground. You can also see that the Achilles deviates medially (inwards) when in standing. As can be seen in the photo on the right, the flat foot leaves a bigger footprint as there is no defined arch. This arch can either be congenital (born with it) or acquired (develop it as you age).
A normal foot is the most optimal foot position, as the Achilles is in a neutral position and there are defined borders of the arch as can be seen in the footprint on the right.
A high arch is when only the forefoot, toes and heels touch the ground to create your footprint as can be seen on the photo above. You can also see that the Achilles tendon deviates laterally (outwards) as well. This can be due to a neuromuscular input/condition that is acquired.
Types of Shoes:
There are all different supportive shoes (sneakers) that are currently on the market. You may have heard of a few (such as Nike, Asics, Brooks, New balance, etc.). Each brand of shoe caters to a different type of foot, and it can be confusing as a consumer to find out which brand is the best for us. Especially if we don’t know what type of arch we have, what width of foot we have and the size of our foot. Your physiotherapist won’t know all of these details either as we don’t measure the size or width of your foot. Although, we can tell you the type of arch that you have.
There are also more brands of shoes coming out that are tailored specifically to different types of foot arches. This is to provide more arch support within shoes so that customers don’t need to spend extra money on arch support. An example of this would be the brand Frankie4. This company was founded by a Physiotherapist and Podiatrist, and they designed shoes to support arches for people that have flat feet. Please see the attached link to check out their shoes: https://frankie4.com/
Why are shoes important for different foot arches?
Tailoring shoes to each person is important as different foot arches can lead to higher risk of different foot/ankle injuries.
A normal arch is the most optimal arch that you can have, and if you support it well during daily activities and sport, then you decrease your risk of injury.
If you have flat feet, then you are at a higher risk of developing the following conditions if you do not perform any interventions, wear supportive shoes, or correct arch support:
- Tibialis posterior tendinopathy
- Plantar fasciitis
- Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS) also known as shin splints
- Achilles Tendinopathy
- Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome of the knee
If you have high arches, then you are at a higher risk of developing the following conditions if you do not perform any interventions, wear supportive shoes, or correct arch support:
- Plantar fasciitis
- Claw toes
- Hammer toes
- Foot and ankle instability
- Ankle, knee, or hip pain secondary to high arches
How to determine which shoe important for you?
Your physiotherapist can help determine the type of foot arch that you have by assessing your foot to give you an idea of what support you may need. This is one of the first pieces of
knowledge that you need. Although, the biggest piece of advice I give to my patients is to visit the Athlete’s foot for their shoes. The reason for this is because they have the MyFit3D technology (https://www.theathletesfoot.com.au/myfit-3d ). This technology helps to scan your feet and determine your size, arch whilst moving and the width of your foot. With the analysis of the data, it will determine the best shoe brand and support that you need for your feet and the activities that you participate in. From there you should be able to find the shoe that is the most optimum for you. Please note, that this is only for supportive shoes like sneakers.
For other shoes (e.g., sandals, boots, etc.), it is quite hard to get supportive shoes for your feet as most companies design the shoes as a stock standard in different sizes. Therefore, if you have a high arch or flat foot, you may require orthotics from a podiatrist (custom made for your foot) or look out for brands that have that extra orthopaedic arch inbuilt into it. These brands may include Archies, Frankie4, Footlogics, etc. Some of these can be found at your local Physiotherapist (including us for the Archies and Footlogics brands) but the Frankie4s can be found online or at their concept stores. You can find out which ones here: https://frankie4.com/pages/support-concept-stores
Take home notes:
- Every person will have a different brand of shoe that is most optimal for them depending on their arch, their foot size, their foot width and the types of activities that they do.
- If you have an injury to your ankle, foot, knee, or hip; it is still important to see a physiotherapist for treatment of the injury. Tailoring your shoes to your feet can be one way to help improve your injury and decrease your risk of re-injury.
- Prevention is always better than treatment. Therefore, it is wise to get the best shoes for your feet now, to try and minimise the risk of injury in your future.