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Health and Fitness News

If the Shoe Fits

Steps to choose the best athletic shoe.

Need a new pair of shoes? There is a right way to go about it. Many people make the mistake of buying a new pair of athletic shoes based merely on their price, brand, or appearance. Don’t let this be you! Because the shoes you wear can make all the difference in your athletic performance. Without the proper fit and support, you’re susceptible to injury.

Despite being important, shopping for shoes online or at the department store can be overwhelming. How do you know what the best shoe is for your sport, the shape of your foot, and the pronation of your foot (the natural way your foot hits the ground when you walk or run)?

Whether you’re running, playing basketball, or sprinting across the tennis court, there are specific characteristics to look for in the proper shoe. The next time you’re in the market for a new pair of athletic shoes, here’s what to look for.

Finding the Best Fit

If you’re not confident in your ability to get the right shoe, don’t do it alone. Instead, shop at an athletic shoe specialty store. There, trained staff are available to measure your foot and watch how the way your foot moves when you walk or run. They then use this information to find the best fit for the activity you have in mind.

Since your feet swell during exercise and as the day goes on, shop for shoes later in the day or after a workout. Be sure to try on the new shoes while wearing the same type of socks you’ll normally wear with the shoes. Otherwise, you won’t get an accurate feel for the shoe.

As you try on shoes, your toes should have enough room to wiggle around without feeling too tight. The heel should feel secure and not slip off as you walk or run. Move around in the shoes for an idea of the support and fit offered. Also, never expect shoes to get more comfortable as you break them in. The only thing that will increase is your regret.

What to Look for

There are specialty shoes designed specifically for just about any sport out there. Here’s what to look for in a few of the most popular sports.
Walking shoes are lightweight with extra cushioning on the heel and ball of the foot. The sole of the shoe may be slightly rounded to allow for the natural movement of walking. The upper part of the shoe should be flexible and soft. Tread on the bottom should be fairly smooth.

You’ll find varying opinions about the best type of running shoe. Some recommend extra cushioning to absorb shock. Other experts advocate for minimalist footwear that offers little to no cushioning. Without support, your foot may adapt to a low-impact gait. This encouraged you to land on your midfoot or forefoot rather than your heel. On the other hand, cushioning, light weight, flexibility, traction, and a stable heel are thought to help prevent common running injuries such as tendinitis, shin splints, heel pain, and overuse injuries.

Basketball shoes should have a stiff, thick sole for added stability when running. They may also be high-tops to support the ankle and prevent injury.
Tennis shoes provide stability for the foot during the sport’s constant side-to-side movements. The sole should be flexible to allow for forward and backward movements. If playing on a hard court, make sure your shoe of choice has plenty of tread.

If you participate in multiple sports, consider a pair of cross-trainers. This multipurpose shoe comes with a flexible toe and stability in the heel.