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Finding the Right Athletic Shoes

Athletic shoe companies manufacture different shoes for different sports. Experts say sports-specific athletic shoes are a wise investment for serious athletes. But what about someone who workout occasionally or only on the weekend? Dr. Ronald Lepow, president of the American Podiatric Medical Association talked about who should buy sports-specific athletic shoes and what features to look for when buying them.

Why Should Someone Get Sports-Specific Athletic Shoes?

A lot of shoe manufacturers today better understand the different movements athletes use and design the shoes to help give better support. Each sport or activity differs in stride and quick stops and may require different components to provide better stability and support.

Who Needs to Be Buying These Shoes?

If you engage in a sport everyday, you should buy a pair of athletics shoes designed specifically for that sport. For example, if you run every day, you should get a running shoe. If you're a weekend warrior who may run or play a game of pickup later, you can get a pair of cross-trainers. It really depends on how avid of a participant you are in that particular sport. Also, if your feet tend to pronate or supinate when you walk or run, several large manufactures have shoes to help you. You should ask about them at the store.

What Are Some of the Things to Look for in the Different Types of Athletic Shoes?

  • Walking Shoes:
    You can see walking shoes are little different. They're lightweight. You want to look for shock absorption in the heel and especially under the ball of the foot. A slightly rounded sole helps to smoothly shift weight from the heel to the toes while decreasing the forces across the foot. Walking shoes have more rigidity in the front so you can roll off your toes rather than bend through as with running shoes.

  • Running Shoes:
    These shoes are lighter and have more cushioning to provide maximum overall shock absorption. They're usually made of synthetic material and the mesh keeps the foot lightly covered offering protection.

  • Tennis Shoes:
    Tennis shoes should support the foot during quick side-to-side movements. Choose a shoe that provides stability on the inside and outside of the foot. Flexibility in the sole beneath the ball of the foot allows repeated quick forward movements. Less shock absorption is required in tennis shoes. On soft courts, wear a softer-soled shoe that allows better traction. On hard courts, select a sole with greater tread.

  • Basketball Shoes:
    Choose a shoe with a thick, stiff sole that gives extra stability. A high-top shoe provides support when landing from a jump and helps prevent ankle sprains. Most doctors recommend hi-tops which can cut down on ankle injuries. 3/4 hi tops also give enough support turn or twist. It's a heavier shoe made mostly from leather. It's also lighter aterial to allow foot to run and jump and land minimizing injury potential.

  • Cross Trainers:
    These shoes will allow you to run if you're a runner, or to play basketball or tennis. But if you're going to play tennis everyday, the cross trainer won't be the best bet. It gives you flexibility and allows you to participate in court games where you need quick stops and provides support around ankles.

Do You Have to Spend a Lot of Money for an Athletic Shoe?

You can find a very good shoe for about 50 dollars. Those costing more are good shoes as well, but you don't need to spend 100 dollars. You should look for a stable, durable shoe with cushioning and flexibility. Consumers should shop around and look for sales.

What Are Some Things We Should Do When We're Shopping for a Shoe?

Go shopping later in the day because feet tend to swell, sometimes up to a half-size larger. Wear the socks you'll wear with your shoe. Make sure your feet are measured every time because sizes differ from manufacturer to manufacturer and feet can grow. Try them on and walk around the store. Don't be shy in trying to mimic some of your activity moves such as basketball moves.

When Is It Time to Get a New Pair?

Check to see if the tread is wearing. Also, look to see if there is some breakdown within the shoe itself and if there is still good support. 300 to 500 miles soft running or 300 hours of aerobic activity can wear down the cushioning material in the shoe.

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