Often people will choose fashion over functionality when buying athletic shoes. Always over-looking the fact that poor-fitting shoes can thus cause pain throughout the body. Reason being footwear plays such a critical role in the function of joints and bones. It is essential that runners and athletes choose the right shoe which will help prevent pain in your back, hips, knees, and feet.
Unfortunately, there is no perfect shoe for everyone as we are all unique—feet are all different, every shoe has different features, and overall comfort is a very personal and subjective decision. For this reason, it is recommended that you first determine your foot type: normal, flat, or high-arched.
Normal feet have a usual-sized arch and will leave a wet footprint that has a flare, but shows the connection between the forefoot and heel by a broad band. A normal foot will heel strike on the outside of the heel and it rolls slightly inward to absorb shock.
Preferred shoes: Stability shoes with a slightly curved shape.
This type of foot has a no or a low arch and leaves a print that looks like the whole sole of the foot. It usually implies an over-pronated foot—one that strikes on the outside of the heel and rolls excessively inward (pronates). Over time, this can cause overuse injuries.
Best shoes: Motion-control shoes or high-stability shoes with firm midsoles. These shoes must be fairly resistant to twisting or bending. We strongly recommend to stay away from highly cushioned, highly curved shoes, which lack stability features.
The high-arched foot leaves a print showing a very narrow band—or no band at all—between the forefoot and the heel. A curved, highly arched foot is generally supinated or under-pronated. Reason being the foot doesn’t pronate enough, usually it’s not an effective shock absorber.
Best shoes: Cushioned shoes with plenty of flexibility to encourage foot motion. Avoid motion-control or stability shoes, which reduce foot mobility.
When buying shoes try implementing the following rules:
- Match the shoe to the sport: Choose a shoe specific for the activity in which you will participate. Running shoes are predominately made to absorb shock as the heel strikes the ground. In contrast, tennis shoes provide more side-to-side stability. Walking shoes allow the foot to roll and push off naturally during walking, and they usually have a fairly rigid arch, a well-cushioned sole, and a stiff heel support for stability.
- Ideally if you can shop at specialty stores that specialize in athletic shoes: Employees at these stores are often trained to recommend a shoe that best matches your stride pattern and foot type (explained above).
- Look for your shoe late in the day: If possible, shop for shoes in the afternoon or after a workout. This is normally when your feet are generally at their largest. Remember when you shop bring a pair of socks which you will normally wear during exercise, and if you use orthotic devices for postural support, make sure you wear them when trying on shoes.
- Ensure your feet are measured every time: It’s important to have the length and width of both feet measured when shopping for shoes. Reason being as one gets older usually one foot is slightly bigger than the other. Another good tip from Podiatrists is that your feet should be measured when you are weight-bearing, because the foot elongates and flattens when you stand, affecting the measurement and the fit of the shoe.
- Make sure the shoe fits correctly: Choose shoes for their fit, not by the size you’ve worn in the past. The shoe should fit with an index finger’s width between the end of the shoe and the longest toe. The toe box should have adequate room and not feel tight. The heel of your foot should fit snugly against the back of the shoe without sliding up or down as you walk or run. If possible, keep the shoe on for 10 minutes to make sure it remains comfortable.
How Long Do Shoes Last?
After purchasing a pair of athletic shoes, don’t run them into the ground. While estimates vary as to when the best time to replace old shoes is, most experts agree that between 300 and 500 miles is optimal. In fact, most shoes should be replaced even before they begin to show signs of moderate wear. Once shoes show wear, especially in the cushioning layer called the mid-sole, they also begin to lose their shock absorption. Failure to replace worn shoes is a common cause of injuries like shin splints, heel spurs, and plantar fasciitis.
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