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What’s Your Foot Type?

Find out now—and don’t let your footfall be your downfall.

September 5th, 2012

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foot type

You pick out the right moisturizer for your skin type, conditioner for your hair type and clothes for your body type, but can you put your finger on your foot type?

From blisters to bunions, cramps to arthritis, chances are you’ve had some kind of foot pain in the past. (Let’s face it, your feet are probably killing you right now.) In a 10,000-steps-a-day-in-Louboutins world there are plenty of things to get your dogs barking. But you don’t have to take it lying down—or standing up, as it were.

MORE: Fixes For Unsightly Foot Problems

New York City podiatrist and founder of Wellness Biomechanics Dennis Shavelson devised a “foot typing” system that identifies structural attributes that can make you more susceptible to different types of foot discomfort, so you can be prepared before they hit.

“Where before you had to have pain or a bunion before you’d go to the doctor, foot typing opens up an amazing avenue for correction and prevention,” says Dr. Shavelson.

He divides foot types into five categories based on the biomechanics of the front and back sections of the foot. The way your foot adapts its shape when you step down can affect where you’re likely to get blisters and what shoes will feel best, and it can lead to problems for your ankles, legs and back. For instance, if the muscles in one part of the foot are weak, oftentimes your calf will compensate, which can cause tightness. A leg massage might relieve the pain, but it’s only treating the symptom, not the cause.

Shavelson’s system—patented a year ago and practiced by 50 podiatrists around the country—identifies sources of weakness and strength, then uses customized orthotics to train foot muscles to deliver the best combination of support and stretch.

So what kind of feet do you have? Step forward and find out.

MORE: Dr. Oz's Tips for Taking Care of Your Feet

Courtesy of Wellness Biomechanics
rigid rear flexible front foot

Rear Rigid/Front Flexible

The most common of the types, Rigid/Flexible feet are supportive at the heel and have good shock absorbers up front.

The signs: Rigid/Flexible folks are prone to heel pain, bunions and hammertoes. Calluses tend to form on the bottom of the big toe and under the second toe where it meets the foot. Because the front of the foot absorbs most of the shock from walking or running, shin splints as well as ankle, knee, hip and lower back pain can crop up.

You probably see wear on the soles of your shoes located on the outsides of the heel and under the first and second toes.

Best steps: Look for shoes that can accommodate a narrower heel and a wide forefoot (especially since it’s likely to get wider over time), or opt for open-backed mules or sandals.

A foot-centering shoe insert can do wonders. Shavelson says this foot type is his favorite because it’s strong in the back, but flexible in the front.

MORE: Why Flip-Flops Do More Harm Than Good

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