By Evangeline Majawat
When choosing your “sole mate”, it is important to remember that everyone has different needs. Your weight, shape of the foot, the surface you’re walking on as well as the biomechanics dictate the ideal shoe for you.
Experts advise that walking shoes need to feature 3 important elements – cushion, stability and motion control. A good pair of shoes must provide adequate support, cushion, grip and most importantly, plenty of comfort
In general, walking shoes are grouped according to their functions:
Designed for athletic pursuits in rugged conditions. These shoes are typically lightweight and durable. They usually have specialised soles to help you grip surfaces. The material is breathable to absorb moisture from your feet and dry out quickly when wet.
Perfect for rugged and outdoorsy terrain. Unlike trail shoes, hiking boots are designed to bear load so this is the best bet if you’re planning to carry any weight (like a backpack) on a hiking trail.
These shoes have a flexible but padded sole. They are highly recommended for people who have mid to high arches. Flat-footed walkers should get motion control shoes.
- Barefoot shoes
Barefoot running is becoming quite popular with some experts claiming that running without or with minimum covering naturally reduces your impact on the ground. Leisure walkers could try these shoes out when strolling in the malls first before testing it out in the outdoors.
The first step in choosing a good pair of walking shoes is to take the Wet Test. Place a piece of blank paper onto a firm and flat surface. Wet your feet and step onto the paper. Step off and analyse your footprints (please see Wet Test Analysis)
Just remember to choose shoes that are comfortable and suitable for the activity that you’re planning to use them for.
Wet Test Analysis
The Normal Foot
Normal feet have a normal-sized arch and will leave a wet footprint that has a flare, but shows the forefoot and heel connected by a broad band. A normal foot lands on the outside of the heel and rolls inwards slightly to absorb shock. It’s the foot of a runner/walker who is biomechanically efficient and therefore doesn’t need a motion control shoe.
Best shoes: Stability shoes with moderate control features.
The Flat Foot
This has a low arch and leaves a print, which looks like the whole sole of the foot. It usually indicates an overpronated foot – one that strikes on the outside of the heel and rolls inwards (pronates) excessively. Over time, this can cause many different types of injuries.
Best shoes: Motion control shoes, or high stability shoes with firm midsoles and control features that reduce the degree of pronation. Stay away from highly cushioned, highly curved shoes, which lack stability features.
The High-Arched Foot
This leaves a print showing a very narrow band or no band at all between the forefoot and the heel. A curved, highly arched foot is generally supinated or underpronated. Because it doesn’t pronate enough, it’s not usually an effective shock absorber.
Best shoes: Cushioned (or ‘neutral’) shoes with plenty of flexibility to encourage foot motion. Stay away from motion control or stability shoes, which reduce foot mobility.
Source: Runner’s World
Sidebar 2: Made-For-You Shoes
Somewhere in the hustle and bustle of Cheras is a shop where ‘magic’ happens. At first glance, it looks just like any other shoe shop in the city. Rows and rows of shoes — dance, sandals, office wear — line the walls of this humble shop. A sewing machine whirrs softly in the background.
“Not many people realise that our feet are not the same size,” says Christine Chook. “This is why some shoe shapes fit better than others. There is nothing like wearing a pair of shoes made just for you.”
Christine is the daughter of local shoemaker Chook Wah Sun. For over 30 years, Chook has been toiling away to create custom shoes in their shop called San Lee Shoes. Today, Christine, who is Chook’s protégé, is taking a more hands-on role in her father’s business so her aging parents can have more time to rest and relax.
Just like her father, Christine believes that custom-made shoes are a delight. “There is no such thing as a standard size. When people go out shopping and buy (mass produced) shoes, they think all sizes are standard,” she explains. “But our feet differ in width and length.”
Among some of the problems with ill-fitting shoes are blisters, bunions, corns, cracked heels and ingrown nails. Christine says the problems may be minor but can be quite painful. Some conditions like bunions could lead to walking difficulties.
When a customer walks into San Lee, they can expect Chook or Christine to measure their feet. Measurements include width and length in proportion to the height of the ankle and the Achilles’ tendon from the sole of the foot. “Custom made shoes are tailored just for you. They’re uniquely yours. You know they’ll be comfortable,” Christine declares, confidently.
Typically, San Lee shoes are made from leather, satin, suede or polyurethane depending on the function. Office or casual footwear is usually made of leather or rubber. Dancing shoes — a specialty at San Lee — are made with satin, suede or glittery material. Chook’s skills and designs have earned him a mini cult status among his client especially those in ballroom dancing circles.
It takes an average of 10 days to make a pair of shoe with prices starting at RM100. The leather shoes last the longest — up to 10 years — with proper care. The others last can average three to five years depending on wear and tear. “Custom made shoes are a bit more expensive but they really are comfortable,” explains Christine. “We stand on our feet for long hours and force them into ill fitting shoes. Everyone should treat their feet better.”
For more information or to order a pair of shoes made just for you, you can drop by San Lee Shoes at 11 Jalan Midah 5, Taman Midah, Jalan Cheras Selangor or call 03 9130 3236