How to Find the Perfect Shoe: Unlocking the Biometrics of Feet
In the store, we see all types of feet come through the door. From narrow to wide, flat to high arches, everyone’s feet are unique. That’s why it’s important to understand the concept of biometrics when it comes to finding the perfect pair of shoes. There is no one shoe that is the “best” for everyone.
Biometrics is the measurement and analysis of unique physical characteristics of an individual, and in this case, their feet. It includes factors such as foot length, width, arch height, arch length, foot girth and even gait analysis. Understanding these factors is crucial when it comes to choosing the right shoe for your feet, especially if you experience discomfort or have an injury.
Fun Fact: Did you know that the human foot contains 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments? It’s no wonder that understanding biometrics is so important in finding the perfect shoe!
Foot length, Arch Height, and Gait
One of the key biometric measurements is foot length. It’s important to not only measure the length of the foot, but also the overall shape. Many people have different sizes between their right and left feet or have toes that are longer or shorter than average. Additionally, the shape of the foot can vary from person to person for example differing widths, narrow heels, or more prominent arches. Proper shoe fitting incorporates not only heel to toe measurement, but also overall shape of the foot and usually incorporates a Brannock Device® to take the measurements.
What is the Right Fit for You?
Another important factor in biometrics is arch height. Determining the height of one’s arch is important in selecting the appropriate shoe with the right amount of support. Those with high arches will need a neutral shoe with more support in the midfoot and more cushioning in the heel and forefoot. Those with flatter arches need a stability shoe with a stable base and more control on the medial side of the foot to prevent excessive pronation. (See below for more information on pronation).
The width and girth of the foot affect shoe fit as well. Many people with a wider foot tend to get a shoe that is too long for them to accommodate the wider part of the foot but that can create other problems for the foot because the arch length does not line up properly with the
flexible part of the shoe. Getting a shoe with the proper width is very important for the comfort and health of your foot.
The girth of the foot (or arch circumference) is the length from a point on top of the foot, down around and
over the highest point in the foot arch, and back to the same point on the top of the foot. This not only includes the width of the foot but the depth of the shoe fit. Not all shoes are constructed on the same last (mold) so finding a shoe that correctly fits your foot is important. If you have a higher instep, you will be better off with a shoe that has adjustability across the top of the foot to accommodate that.
Gait analysis is also a key component of biometrics. This involves analyzing the way someone walks, including their foot strike pattern and how their foot rolls from heel to toe. This information is essential in selecting the right shoe for everyone. For example, someone who overpronates (rolls their foot inward) will need a shoe with more stability to prevent injury and a person with a high arch needs a neutral shoe with more cushioning to absorb the shock in the heel and ball of the foot.
Finding Plantar Fasciitis Relief
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain and is estimated to effect 30 million Americans every year. Often plantar fasciitis is caused by wearing shoes that do not have proper support. Soft, cushy shoes that bend easily generally aggravate the condition, as do flat shoes with no support. Check out this post on Ten Benefits of Haflinger Clogs.
Read More: How To Relieve Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms
Foot mechanics may also contribute to plantar fasciitis. Flat feet, low arches and even the way you walk can put extra stress on the plantar fascia, eventually causing inflammation. Understanding biometrics or talking with our staff who are trained by our certified pedorthist, can help you find the right fit to relieve this very painful condition.
What is Pronation and Supination?
Proper pronation helps to push you off the ground as you take each step and reduces the shock felt by your ankles, knees, hips, and back as your foot strikes pavement. Did you know it is very rare for a person’s stride to be perfectly balanced? An overwhelming 99% of the population has some degree of over or under pronation. Supination, or under pronation, can cause Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, and IT band syndrome. Your foot comfort can be greatly improved by wearing the proper shoes.
Why is Pronation Important?
As a body ages, pronation may become more pronounced. The arch of your foot may flatten too much causing a breakdown in the alignment of the joints in your foot. All the muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints in your foot work in concert, but not if your joints no longer align! Over pronation can cause a variety of painful conditions like:
Plantar fasciitis (heel spurs)
Tendonitis (Achilles, Peroneal, Tibial, etc.)
Osteoarthritis, and more
To ensure the best fit, our knowledgeable staff use a combination of biometric measurements to help each person find the perfect shoe. Understanding your unique biometrics is key to finding the ideal shoe that not only fits well but also helps prevent injury, properly support your feet, and promotes comfort. Visit us in store for a personalized foot analysis and expert shoe fitting.
Peterson Shoes is a family-owned shoe store and shoe repair shop serving the Andover, Anoka, Brooklyn Park, Coon Rapids and Minneapolis areas. We specialize in orthotic shoe inserts, shoes for plantar fasciitis and shoes for tendinitis. Come check out our selection of Women’s shoes, apparel and accessories, and Men’s shoes at 209 E. Main Street, Anoka, MN. Or shop our selection online anytime.