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Prepare to have your mind blown… ALL OVER YOUR FACE!

12/02/2011

When I was a tot, it was determined that I had flat feet. This was a great relief to my parents since I could not be drafted for the Clone Wars afflicted with this debilitating condition. Because my dad’s childhood bestie was a podiatrist, I always had super state of the art orthotics that I never wore. I overpronated so much that I walked on the inside walls of my shoes and I went through parochial school loafers faster than Bruce Patton went through girls at SVH. In high school I started running cross-country and indoor track and spent a lot of time in racing flats which are pretty much ballet slippers with a tiny piece of rubber on the bottom that you can screw spikes into. As you can imagine, tackling (read: walking) the hills at Sunken Meadow in those meant my arches had zero support. My two big toes constantly had ingrown toenails from being smashed and during winter track my senior year I actually had half of my left big toenail removed. My feet and Marshall Ulrich’s feet are like fraternal twins.

Don’t worry–I’m (slowly) getting to my point.

When I started running again for realsies in my mid-20’s shoe technology and my brain had come a long way since 1995. I smartly started wearing stability shoes to help with my feet issues. When your feet overpronate, your knees and hips also turn inward and all this misalignment leads to an inefficient stride, poor biomechanics, and sidelining injuries. But with a stability shoe, I thought I was good to go. I thought wrong. It was only 2 week ago that I learned that STABILITY SHOES DO NOT CORRECT FLAT FEET!!! Yes, I know. Feel free to gasp out loud. You may need to sit down. Or breath into a paper bag. Or pen an angry missive to every shoe company who done lied to you. Because this news was more shocking to me than finding out that Ann M. Martin did not write all The Baby-Sitters Club books, and I openly wept at that discovery.

Stability and motion control shoes have a post that offer an overpronator more of a foundation when running than a neutral shoe would. When the foot rolls toward the inside, a stability shoe will decelerate this movement and gently push the foot back into position keeping your ankles, knees, and hips in a straight(er) line. But while the inward roll may be reduced or eliminated with a stability shoe, YOUR FOOT IS STILL FLATTENING OUT INSIDE THE SHOE!!! True story! Stability shoes have no arch support. That very dense piece of foam on the outside of the shoe corrects from the outside in but does not fix the root of the problem.

I’ll give you a minute to process this information with one of my all-time favorite internet clips:

How did I–a life-long sufferer of flat feet–never know this? I mean, this is some pretty important shit! And what does that mean for those among us born without arches? It means we should be wearing an insert, either a custom orthotic or an over-the-counter one like Superfeet when running. While orthotics can be pricy, they should last you at least 2 pairs of running shoes (approximately 12 months). Try to avoid the gel ones sold at places like CVS (example: Dr. Scholls) because they are too smooshy to support your foot on a long run. In fact, all runners can benefit from some sort of support inside their shoe. The sock liner that comes inside sneakers pretty much is there to keep your foot off the stitches and is worth less than the shoelaces. A runner with high arches, for example, will oftentimes have a big gap between their foot and the shoe and an insert would fill that empty space, giving the foot more support. As one of my coworkers explained it to me “An insert marries the shoe to the foot.” Aha! Lightbulb now on.

How does your foot roll?

I’m not trying to be all insert pimp but had I known this, I would have been wearing an orthotic while running years ago. I thought if I was in a sturdy pair of shoes, my flat feet were corrected. This was an incorrect assumption and one that coud have (and may have) caused some major injuries since I’ve read in quite a few articles that women with flat feet are prone to stress fractures more than other runners. It’s like all of life’s great mysteries have been solved during the short time I’ve been employed at The Very Good Run Fast Shoppe/The New Very Good Run Fast Shoppe.

Armed with this earth-shattering life-altering information, you can make sure that your feet are getting the support they need. Not sure? Head to a local running specialty shop and have someone check out your tootsies. And while you get measured, I can feel really good about myself for sharing this boring but vital tidbit so you don’t discover after 19+ years of running that you were a dumb stupid dumb.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. 12/02/2011 12:45 PM

    You mentioned The Very Good Run Fast Shoppe and The New Very Good Run Fast Shoppe…are these the real names of the stores?

    • Suzanne permalink*
      12/02/2011 1:08 PM

      YES! But they are exclusive to Canada.

  2. 12/02/2011 1:07 PM

    Oh my gosh, Lorie, I thought the VERY same thing! I do know that Suzanne did NOT get the super-cool visuals of arches and pronation from TVGRFS/TNVGRFS, though! Runner’s World Shoe Finder!

  3. 12/02/2011 2:32 PM

    Ooh, then I wonder if Runner’s World stole it from REI… the plot thickens…

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