Choosing Athletic Shoes

Tips and Guidelines

Your old running shoes or soccer cleats have worn out and it’s time for a new pair. What standards do you use when you pick out athletic shoes? Do you take into account the color, the design, the price, or the brand name? What you wear on your feet when you’re active really matters. Shoes can either protect or harm your lower limbs, depending on the fit. Choosing shoes that meet your needs can help you do your best in the big game or race.

Meet Your Sport’s Requirements

Baseball, basketball, tennis, cross country—sports tend to be very different from each other and place different demands on your body. Since each activity has unique requirements, it makes sense that the shoes for each are different. Athletic shoes have to be designed to match the needs of their individual sports. Hiking boots have thick tread to help stabilize your feet on uneven trails. Football cleats help players grip the ground for rapid starts and direction changes. Basketball high tops help control the ankle for twists and turns on the court. Running shoes come in a variety of types, though in general they are made to be light and help absorb shock from footfalls.

Finding shoes that match your activity is key. Jumping, kicking, running, and changing direction suddenly all subject the feet to heavy pressure and force. You need to make sure you have footwear that will protect your most important gear—your feet—during your activities.

Tips for the Best Fit

Shoes that are designed for your activities but don’t fit or support your feet well will not help you much. You need to try on your potential footwear and make sure it will meet your body’s individual needs. Have your feet measured before your fitting. Even if you have technically stopped growing, your lower limbs can expand and flatten with time. Also, many people’s feet are not the same length; if the difference is great enough, you may need unique sizes for each limb. Some tips to keep in mind when trying on shoes include:

  • Wear the same socks you will use for your sport.
  • Try on shoes toward the end of the day or after a workout, when your feet are at their largest.
  • Leave roughly a half inch of space between the tip of your longest toe and the end of your shoe.
  • Your toe box should have enough room for them to wiggle.
  • Your heel should not slip out of the back when you take a step.
  • The arch needs to fit correctly in the midfoot and provide the right stability for your needs.
  • Walk around the store to check the fit and comfort for movement.

Remember, shoes should fit comfortably when you first put them on. Buying shoes that will need extensive breaking in risks damaging your feet. You should also check your current gear for wear. Excessive breakdown in one area of the shoe may signal that you need orthotics or other accommodations to prevent overuse injuries.

Choosing athletic shoes doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Knowing a little about your sport and your individual support needs can go a long way in helping your find the best footwear for your feet. Our experienced staff can help you in whatever way you need. Call our main office at (908) 475-8750 or use the website contact page to reach us for more information or to make an appointment for any pain.