“They are only $79 dollars!” This statement was quickly followed by joyful giggles at the prospect of saving $160. We were in an outlet shop called Marshalls in Atlanta, Georgia. Atlanta is the home of Coca-Cola and has an obesity rate of around 30%. This happy fact may have contributed to me holding the ASICS Kayano size 8.5, waiting to find a good home.
I am frequently asked “What is the best shoe?” Unfortunately this is a bit like asking what’s the best flavour of ice-cream. With the dozens of shoe brands, and dozens more styles, it if fair to say that no single shoe is perfect for everyone. To quote the very clever Craig Payne “Different shoes and different running styles load different tissues differently”. A better strategy is to follow a few guidelines.
A few simple rules for choosing an appropriate shoe:
- A shoe must fulfill a purpose. That is, there is not point in using a skate shoe for cross training or a top of the range jogger if it is only needed for occasional walking.
- The shoe must be wide enough, deep enough and strong enough to accommodate the foot, the whole foot and anything else that may be required eg. Socks and orthotics.
- A shoe must match the shape of your foot. A high arch benefits from a curved last. A flat foot benefits from a straight last shoe. A good shoe can make the use of an orthotic superfluous. A bad shoe can make an orthotic ineffectual.
- The weight of a shoe is important. A denser shoe tends to be stronger and more durable, whereas a lighter one may wear quicker, however will cause less fatigue with repetitive activity.
- A shoe has a life of around 1000km. The midsole will fail long before the outer sole or the upper. To avoid injury, respect that your shoes will need replacing regularly.
- Minimalist shoes should only be worn with appropriate transition, including foot and leg strengthening. Failure to do so, may result in injury.
Possible the most important thing your shoe should do is empower or inspire you. I still have those Kayanos. I was so excited about my new shoes, that I chose only to wear them on a treadmill (didn’t want to get them dirty). And I chose to wear them often. 20kg lighter, those Kayanos were one of the best shoes I ever bought.