Gone are the days of going into the store, picking out the cutest pair of athletic shoes you see, asking for your size, and taking them home. Although that may be fun and quick, it’s a recipe for disaster…and injury.
If you’re going to invest in anything for your fitness regimen, please make it your shoes! Athletic shoes are probably the most important piece of fitness equipment you’ll buy, so it’s important that you pick the right pair. Injury caused by inappropriate shoes can needlessly derail your fitness attempts. One of the worst feelings is to finally have the motivation and determination it takes to regularly exercise, but then have an injury stop you in your tracks. I’ve been there, and it just plain…well, sucks. So, we’re here to give you a run-down on the why’s and how’s of athletic shoe buying so that never happens to you!
All athletic shoes are not made the same:
- Running shoes have built-in shock absorbers and lack lateral stability because you don’t move your feet laterally when you run– you’re only going forward. They’re built to give you support and stability as you move your foot specifically through the running gait cycle.
- Cross-training shoes are designed to be suitable if you perform a number of sports or exercise types in your workout, but they are not designed to support any specific sport very well
- Walking shoes, among many other design features, are especially lightweight
- Aerobic shoes are lightweight & shock absorbing to prevent foot fatigue and to cushion the ball of the foot
- Tennis shoes have flexible soles to protect your feet from the quick side-to-side movements of tennis.
- Basketball shoes are thick-soled and have a high top to provide extra protection against ankle and foot injuries caused by jumping.
Tips for while you’re in the shoe store:
- Make sure you try on each shoe with the socks you would be wearing during exercise.
- Walk across the room. Does your foot feel cushioned and supported? Is the foot lightweight enough to perform your activity? Is your foot stable while moving (not wobbling or slipping out of the shoe)?
When should you buy new athletic shoes? It’s time to get a new pair when…
- You notice worn soles, particularly if they are unevenly worn
- The backs of the shoes appear to be broken down
- You’ve worn your running shoes for 300 miles
- You’ve worn your cross-training-shoes for more than 100 hours
And just in case you need one more reason to go pick out the right shoes, wearing the wrong shoes can lead to:
- Serious back, knee and hip pain
- Achilles tendonitis
- Shin splints (leg pain)
- Traumatized toes
- Painful blisters
…any of those sound familiar?
So go ahead, head to the store and remind yourself that it’s FUNCTION over BEAUTY when it comes to athletic shoes. Your future feet, knees and hips will thank you!
Livestrong.com, nhs.uk, WebMD