I’ve been a runner for a good 20 years, albeit with waxing and waning levels of dedication to my push for performance and distance. It wasn’t until the last couple of years that I really started to take the sport more seriously, investing heavily in gear all designed to make the running experience not only more enjoyable, but also safer. (This is particularly important for my aging body.) After all, as anyone who has even dabbled in the sport can attest, several things can easily go wrong if you aren’t prepared, and it all starts from the bottom… with your shoes.
While I may have invested heavily in trying out different styles of shoes over the years — ultimately, my go-to brand for running shoes has been Brooks, specifically the Ghost series — there was no real science backing my decision. So, I was excited when I had the opportunity to drop by a Happy Feet Plus store and get a complimentary 3D foot scan and analysis to determine exactly what size and style of running shoe is best for me.
The process is simple. You just step onto a small platform for a couple of seconds and this device scans your feet with extreme precision and almost instantly delivers data that tells you more about your feet than you ever thought you wanted or needed to know. (Trust me when I say: It’s all stuff you should know.) In fact, the detailed information such as pressure points, arch height, foot pronation and sizing. This is done thanks to the 5,000 gold-plated sensors, 1,000 infrared LED lights and receptors, and 18 digital cameras that each scanner contains.
From there, one of Happy Feet Plus’ trained Fit Specialists will provide you a full evaluation on the results of your scan, and provide an in-depth consultation on the findings. The first thing I noticed when the heat map of my feet popped up on a screen in front of me was the massive amount of bright red enveloping my heels. (Imagine, if you will, that this image was a weather map; my heels would be the “take cover” part of the storm.) While I don’t heel strike when running — this is poor form, but we’ll dive into that more on another day — I do tend to put entirely more weight on my heels when I’m just standing. I’ve noticed this previously, and it often causes me to continually shift weight from one foot to the other just for a bit of alternating respite.
I also learned that I have exceptionally low arches. Truth be told, since starting this process I’ve become hyper-aware of my feet’s mood, so to speak, and noticed that if I’m inclined to feel any discomfort when hitting the pavement, it’s in my arches. It may not be significant or debilitating, but it’s not something to go unaddressed.
The consult progressed, and I was pleased to know that I’ve been picking the right style and size shoes. However, I learned that I would undoubtedly benefit from the use of a pair of semi-custom Aetrex orthotic insoles to give me added support. To boot, my in-store consultant (they’re called Fit Specialists) took into consideration the style of Kenkoh recovery sandals I use — which I previously wrote about — when she selected the style that would provide the most consistent support.
My fit specialist didn’t stop at the scan and orthotic recommendation. She actively continued to participate in my fitting. I’m talking concierge-level, here. Like Cinderella being reunited with her lost slipper, the store specialist slipped a pair of Brooks Ghosts onto my feet, tightened them, and laced them up for me. She stayed with me as I walked around, getting a feel for the shoes; one of them had the original insole while the other had the recommended Aetrex insert, letting me feel the (admittedly drastic) difference between the two. She asked me questions about the fit and my comfortability, ensuring that this was the right match for me. What might have been a scan-and-go situation ended up being a truly unique experience. I actually felt that the in-store Fit Specialist had my best interests at heart.
There will be more to come on the results as I combine these inserts with a fresh pair of Brooks, but in the meantime, I want to reiterate how simple, easy, and informative this process was; the entire team is truly dedicated to ensuring that your feet are taken care of from all angles and in all activities. Total foot health is their main goal.
So, whether you’re like me, and your feet suffer some serious abuse on a day-to-day basis, or you’re a bit more laid back, I think it’s worth stopping by and getting the analysis. It’s free, after all. You’ll learn a whole lot more about your feet and what you can do to improve their health and comfort, both of which directly impact your entire body in one way or another; the sooner you get started, the better off you’ll be.