The Green Girl Has A Problem

The Green Girl's podiatrist made an interesting discovery when she went for a follow-up visit for her orthotics.

Before I started running a few years ago, I got my gait and stride analyzed at a few running shoe stores to make sure I was getting the proper footwear. My feet are small and wide - I wear a size 5.5 wide - and I have very low arches that collapse almost completely when I put weight on my feet. The consensus was that the Green Girl needed stabilty shoes. In terms of width, I was pretty much limited to only 2 options: Brooks or New Balance. Other manufacturers offer wide widths but they aren't as generously sized.

After some trial and error, I discovered the stiffer the shoe, the less my plantar fasciitis flared up. Running on soft surfaces for extended periods of time had the same effect so I stuck to the pavement. I also learned my feet swell a lot when I run so I need an extra wide toe box.

As I ramped up my mileage during marathon training, I added Green Superfeet insoles to help alleviate increased arch pain due to the plantar fasciitis. The combination of the New Balance 857 stability shoes and the Green Superfeet were ideal for my feet.

When it came time to replace my 857's, I stuck with the New Balance 85x stability line. I went from 858's to 859's. I was one content Green Girl who had achieved the ultimate shoe zen.

But then I ran into a problem. My magical prescriptiong orthotics were so powerful that when combined with my beloved stability shoes, my flat little feet were actually being overcorrected - I was oversupinating. I went back to my usual running stores to see what my options were. They all suggested I go with a pair of neutral shoes but no one had my size in stock.

Instead of waiting for a pair to be ordered, I headed to the New Balance South Bay store. I have nothing but good things to say about this store. Their customer service was outstanding. I am pretty sure I managed to run at least a quarter of a mile around their store during some of my visits while they patiently studied my gait and stride.

I started out with a neutral shoe that aggravated my plantar fasciitis. I exchanged them for another neutral shoe that gave me shin splints. I exchanged them for a different stability shoe. That one made my good left ankle hurt. Finally, they suggested I try a motion control shoe, the 1123. It was by far the most unattractive running shoe I'd ever seen but at this point, I was willing to give them a try.

The New Balance 1123's are heavy but durable. The sole is probably about as stiff as a sole can get and they are built on a straight last. I like to call them my 'Charlie Brown' Humvee shoes. My podiatrist actually felt the straight last would be better for my feet simply because my feet are so straight.

My podiatrist also examined my old running shoes and studied not only the outsoles but also the midsoles. He informed me that I am favoring my injured side. He showed me the midsole of my old left shoe and sure enough, there's a pronounced indentation that doesn't appear on the right shoe.

Correcting this issue is my number one priority. I am trying to be really cognizant of how I run. After he made that observation, I realized I've also made some changes to the way I walk. I'm right-handed and I would always step down on my right foot but ever since I injured myself, I always step down on my left.

With all my shoe complications, I couldn't help but wonder if I could benefit from the whole barefoot running movement with a more minimal shoe (as opposed to the 'Charlie Brown' Humvee shoes) but both my podiatrist and the physical therapist suggested I just stick to my orthotics and supportive shoes for now.


  1. I have a similar problem. I appear to have better arches, but I also have a short, wide foot. I was in stabilities, but I am currently in more neutral shoes. My biggest problem is getting a shoe that really fits. I am in a gap in coverage as my dress shoe is a 5.5 EEE. Most of the time, I'm getting "close enough" vs "that's right". I really hate the constant changing of shoes designs as it makes it doubly hard to figure out what will work.

  2. It sounds like you can really relate to how difficult it is for me to find shoes that fit. I agree, I wish companies would just keep making the same shoe year after year so it would be a no-brainer for me. I don't care about looking stylish - though I do dream of green running shoes ::grin:: - I just want to be comfortable.


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