MARQUETTE - As Forrest Gump once opined, "There's an awful lot you can tell about a person by their shoes."
The importance of footwear while exercising is something that should not be overlooked. The wrong kind of shoe can lead to inflammatory pain in the hips, knees, ankles and feet.
John Thomsen, owner of Johnson's Superior Shoes in Marquette, regularly sees people who need help with their shoes.
Local runner Nick Behling jogs on the bike bath between Fourth and Fifth streets in Marquette. (Journal photo by Danielle Lehto)
"Most normal, everyday shoes are built on one proposed foot-bed and so you, as the wearer of the shoe, have to suffer the consequences," he said. "Maybe you have a foot structure that isn't neutral."
Johnson said there are four different types of running shoes. Each type corresponds to a different level of foot support.
Johnson said a person's shoe needs depend on the biomechanics of how their foot strikes the ground when running. When someone runs 90 percent of the strike is on the lateral, or outside of the foot.
"Clues you look for include thick, heavy callousing at the ball of the foot around the great toe, what we call bunionettes on the lateral side, hardness on the lateral side."
- John Thomsen, owner, Johnson's Superior Shoes
"We're designed to strike and as we move forward roll slightly inward over the great toe, that's kind of the shock absorbing action for your arch," Thomsen said.
Thomsen said as most people get older however, they over-pronate - which is rolling the foot too far to the inside while striking the ground.
"Clues you look for include thick heavy callousing at the ball of the foot around the great toe, what we call bunionettes on the lateral side, hardness on the lateral side," Thomsen said.
He said a common muscle ailment is plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia is a band of connective tissue stretching from the heel bone to the sole of the foot and toes.
"People who have plantar fasciitis have pain in the morning when they wake up, when they first get out of bed and what that means is that blood has been pumped into those tissues to promote healing but then in the night you're prone so the blood is pooling so when you step down you're stepping down on swollen tissue," Thomsen said.
Part of finding the right shoes depends on looking for symptoms.
"I look at their feet on a fitting stool and I look for the depth of the arch, the length of the arch, I look for symptoms - callousing, blisters, corns, bunions, bunionettes, hammer toes," Thomsen said.
He also has people put their feet on the floor to see how their feet rest naturally on the ground.
"More than anything I'm looking to see if they point their toes to the outside. If they point their toes to the outside I know I have a severe over-pronator," he said.
He also has them stand and bear weight on one foot at a time.
"And in some cases I'll ask them to walk. But pretty much through my experience I can tell what I need right at that point," Thomsen said.
Recently shoe companies have come out with shoes, such as Skechers' Shape-Ups, and claim that by simply wearing them people can lose weight and tone their muscles.
However he recommended that people be cautious and get advice before buying them because the design of the shoe may throw people off balance when walking.
Christopher Diem can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.