No matter what your favorite sport is, your shoe wear is one of your most important pieces of gear. But with all the choices out there, it can be very difficult to select the right pair. Wearing the right shoes can increase comfort, improve performance, and most importantly, prevent injury. Sports can place tremendous physical stress on your feet especially those involving running and jumping. So here are a few tips to find the right shoe for your sport or activity.
- Choose a sport specific shoe. There are specially designed shoes for almost every athletic activity you can be involved in. Get a running shoe for running. Choose a court shoe for tennis or volleyball. Cleats may be needed for field sports. Look for a specialty store if possible.
- Your feet swell throughout the day, so try on new shoes later in the day or after a workout. Also use the same type of socks that you will wear during your activity.
- Make sure the heel counter – the back of your shoe that holds the heel – fits snugly. This in important in providing stability
- When checking the “toe box”, you should have enough room to wiggle all of your toes. The proper length should be about ½ inch longer than your longest toe. Your toes should never feel cramped in your shoes.
- Try on both the right and left shoes to check fit. Walk around on different surfaces like carpet and tile to see if they are comfortable. Utilize demos that some shops provide.
- Tie the laces so they are snug but not too tight just as you would for your activity. Different lacing patterns can help the shoe adapt if needed.
- Inspect the shoes for defects and make sure they are level. Also, ask for shoes that haven’t been on the shelf too long. Some cushioning materials can lose their effectiveness over time even if not in use.
Athletic shoes need to be replaced on a regular basis. Wear and tear increases depending on the amount of use and the court surface can be a factor. In particular, running shoes should be replaced at regular intervals. The cushioning loses 45% of its effectiveness at about 500 miles. As a general rule of thumb, divide 75,000 by your body weight (in lbs) and this will give your miles at which you should replace your shoe. So if you weigh 150 lbs, you should replace them at 500 miles.
Remember, your feet take impact up to 3-5 times your body weight during running and jumping. And a foot injury can often take a long time to heal! So protect your feet! Invest some money and time in research and select the right shoes. That way you can play or participate for years to come and achieve your fitness goals!