Athletic shoes have progressively improved since the mid-1980s. Before, one pair of sports shoes could be worn for all the training and athletic activities you participated in. Since training shoes started evolving, there are designs for virtually every type of sport, including walking and running. Because support for your feet is essential for any event you're participating in, it's helpful to know whether one type of shoe has higher arches.
In general, neither running shoes or walking shoes have higher arches. When shopping for either shoe, you should be able to find a selection with differing arch heights. This is because all runners have different arches and require different amounts of support: for flat feet (fallen or flat arches), normal and supination (high arches).
Regardless of the arch height in a shoe, you should select one that flexes and doesn't have an overly rigid arch. Both walking and running shoes should be flexible, but runners need even more give in the arch area to allow the arches of their feet to work as a spring. In the 2011 book "Running to the Top," A. Lydiard tells readers that this maximizes the coil spring action that sprinters and other runners rely on for a swift, bouncy pace.
Determining Your Arch Type
Before you go walking or running shoe shopping, determine what type of arch you have so you can buy shoes appropriate for your foot. An easy way to do this is to look at your wet footprints the next time you step out of the shower onto your bathmat. If the entire bottom of your foot leaves an impression, you have overpronation or flat feet. High arches or supination are when the balls and front of your feet and your heels leave a pronounced impression, but little of the middle of your foot shows. A normal foot will leave a print that shows the front, heels and a slim section of the middle of your foot, but with a curved indent where your arch doesn't touch the ground. If you have a severe problem with overpronation or supination, you might talk to an orthopedic doctor about custom inserts for your shoes for optimum arch support.
Buying walking or running shoes isn't a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Even if you don't train as often as you'd like, at some point your shoes will wear out and the support they provide will break down. Basing your decision on the comfort factor isn't always reliable. Few things are as comfortable as an old pair of shoes, but those old shoes probably aren't supporting your feet or providing the shock absorption they used to. If you use your running or walking shoes regularly -- three or more times a week -- you should replace them with a new pair once a year.
- Walk Away the Pounds; Leslie Sansone
- American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society: How to Select the Right Athletic Shoes
- MayoClinic.com: Walking Shoes: Features and Fit That Keep You Moving
- Runner's World: Running Shoes FAQ
- Body Results: Choosing Running Shoes
- Conquering the Marathon; Lynn Gray
- Running to the Top; A. Lydiard
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