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Stepping Forward

Warm weather marks a new season for runners, walkers, joggers and a many other sports enthusiasts ... from baseball and tennis players to street hockey and skate boarders. An important part of your athletic regimen is the equipment you use, and a basic, very imporant item is your shoes. Appropriate, well-fitting shoes are not only important for comfort, they offer you great benefits.
  • Arch support is important if you are taking part in a regular exercise routine. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests that runners with flat feet ask a specialist for recommendations on running shoes.
  • Midsole foot cushioning -- cushion of the area between the ball and heel of the foot - can reduce stress placed on the heel, ankles and toes when running. This not only makes running more comfortable, it can help improve body mechanics and reduce or prevent knee, hip and back pain.
  • Injury prevention - especially for specific types of injury caused by extensive running --  is a vital benefit of proper footwear. Together, midsole cushioning and arch support can help prevent overuse injuries, such as tendonitis, stress fractures and joint pain -- and protect against cuts and scrapes to the feet!
The American Council on Exercise has stated that using the right shoe can help you make greater gains in your athletic regimen. There are a lot of shoes out there, the first step in choosing the correct pair for you is understanding your foot type!
  • If your shoes are most worn down on the inside, you have a low arch; your footprint shows almost the entire foot, and your feet roll distinctively inward. In this case, wear motion-control running shoes. They should have maximum supportive features as well as substantial cushioning in high strike areas of the heel and forefoot. These shoes are also excellent for the larger-framed runner. However, if the outside of your heel hits the ground first, and rolls inward slightly, consider stability shoes. Stability running shoes give extra support through the midsole and heel to help your feet work better. Select a shoe with a straight shape.
  • If your shoes show uniform wear across the forefoot, your feet have a distinct curve along the inside of your foot, and your heel and toes are connected by a band that is slightly less than half the width of your foot, you have a normal arch. With a normal arch, the middle to slightly outward part of the heel strikes the ground first and the foot rolls slightly inward, absorbing shock more effectively. You should use stability running shoes with a semi-curved shape.
  • If your shoes show more wear on the outer sides, you have a high arch. Your footprint shows a thin outer band between your heel and toe, the outside of the heel strikes the ground first and does not roll inward, staying on the outside causing the impact to be concentrated on a smaller area of the foot. Look for cushioned shoes with a curved shape to encourage foot movement, these shoes should be more concerned with midsole cushioning that support, and provide extra shock absorption to make up for the lack of pronation that comes with high arches.
Whether you're just beginning a running program or are an old pro at it, enjoy the beautiful weather and step forward to a healthy, fit lifestyle!

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