The Big Peach Running Co. fit process is informative, thorough, and fun. There is never a need to make an appointment, and it is free of charge.
Footwear is the most important piece of equipment for runners and walkers. Our job is to make sure that you not only have a GOOD shoe, but the RIGHT shoe for YOU. In other words, there are many good shoes out there, but that doesn’t mean that all of them are good for YOU. Our fit process is focused on determining which good shoe is BEST for YOU.
Our fit process takes time to understand each individual’s foot characteristics and also uses Video Gait Analysis to understand what happens while the foot is in contact with the ground and how this relates to what type of platform is needed from a shoe. Video Gait Analysis also allows us to determine whether a runner is over-striding, which can correlate to the amount of force generated at the point of impact (and therefore the amount of protection needed from a shoe!) and also allow us to understand how an individual’s running form may contribute to any existing running injuries, especially with the knees and the shins. Of course, there are other considerations as well, including usage intentions (walking, running, gym work), surface (road, trail, indoor), frequency, distance, existing injuries and individual goals to name a few.
Finally, once we have gained knowledge of each individual, we are able to make recommendations and move into what we call Fit, Feel & Ride. It is here where shoes are tried and tested, often with two different shoes on each foot to gain an understanding of the subtle differences between the two. Part of our job is to educate runners and walkers about proper shoe fit and it is during this phase of the Fit Process where we will ask questions and discuss considerations such as forefoot space, midfoot taper, heel fit and “Ride,” or the degree to which a shoe moves naturally with your foot while running or walking. It is not uncommon to try on several shoes during this part of the process!
Sound thorough? It is! We take our footwear fitting very seriously. BUT, we don’t take ourselves too seriously and we promise to have lots of FUN along the way. And we always start with the end in mind: To get more enjoyment out of running or walking so we can say that our BEST miles truly are those covered on foot!
Foot width, shape and arch type as well as any unique considerations or injuries all must be considered when determining which shoe will fit best. And, make no mistake, fit is a hugely important aspect with many studies indicating that fit is likely the most important consideration in selecting proper footwear. Of course, understanding foot characteristics is merely a starting point. While trying on and testing footwear during the Fit, Feel & Ride phase, discussions often focus on having sufficient room in the forefoot, having an adequate taper at the midfoot and heel, and having enough arch support so as not to feel an “emptiness” under the foot. And, of course, individual preferences must also be taken into consideration.
As part of understanding foot characteristics, we use a digital scanner to generate an image of the bottom of the foot. This helps us to understand the depth of an individual’s arch as well as distribution of pressure while standing, which can be an indicator of injury and posture (an important element of running form).
Whether on a treadmill or outside, Video Gait Analysis is crucial to understanding what happens while the foot is in contact with the ground. Footwear can provide varying degrees of a stable platform for the foot, so understanding whether the foot is in a stable or unstable (overpronated) position while on the ground is important as it allows us to better understand how stable a platform is needed for an individual.
When the foot is in an unstable position, it creates stress on the lower body and, as the stress accumulates, it can lead to discomfort and even injury. Shoes that provide a more stable platform can reduce this stress and help reduce the likelihood of injury while also making the running/walking experience more enjoyable. And for an individual whose foot is already in a stable position, we want to consider shoes that will accommodate this already ideal position.
During Video Gait Analysis an individual will walk or run in a shoe as opposed to going barefoot as we want to understand how the foot functions while wearing a shoe, since, presumably, a shoe will be worn while running or walking. During this analysis, we use what’s classified as a “Neutral” shoe or one that does not have any element that provides additional stability for an individual whose foot is in an unstable position. This provides us with a baseline understanding of the degree of stability or instability of an individual’s foot.
For those who are running, we may also gather video from the side during gait analysis. Side video allows us to determine if a runner is overstriding (see “Understanding Overstriding) which provides us with a very basic understanding of the amount of force that is generated at impact. The more a runner over-strides, the more force is generated, thereby increasing the need for protection. Of course, side video also gives us the opportunity to have an initial discussion about running form.
The most common mistake made by most runners is to overstride, or to strike with their foot too far in front of their center of gravity (or hips). When overstriding, both the foot and the knee are not able to absorb shock as efficiently as they otherwise would, while the lower body is actually in a backwards leaning position, acting as a brake to forward motion and often causing a runner to lean at the hips in order to gain the “forward lean” (and compromising posture as a result).
And the greater the degree to which a runner overstrides, the greater the burden placed on the shoe to protect against the shock generated at impact (and the greater the likelihood of the shoe breaking down prematurely).
So how to address overstriding? There is little that footwear can do, although some minimal shoes are able to encourage a landing that is closer to a runner’s center of gravity. It is here where our TransFORMed Running curriculum can be of great value. Not only can it help us better enjoy our running and reduce the likelihood of injury, it can also allow our properly fitted footwear to perform better and last longer. If you are committed to your running routine and have never had any instruction related to running form (or are looking to refresh what you already know!), TransFORMed Running can be a fantastic resource!