Selecting Athletic Shoes

Good for you! You're either starting or continuing on the road to improved fitness and health through physical activity. While you're working out, don't forget that for many athletic activities, your feet are working hard. Treat them right by selecting the correct athletic shoe for your chosen activity, and you'll enjoy better performance and a decreased risk of foot problems. Athletic shoes that are made well and fit well are as important to your pursuits as shin guards for soccer or a helmet for pro football. 

For nearly any sport you choose, there is a shoe designed to meet the specific physical demands you'll be placing on your feet. Following is a list of seven popular sports and the types of shoes recommended for maximum foot and ankle protection. 

  • Running: Running demands one essential piece of equipment: a good pair of running shoes. Factors like your body weight, foot structure, the way you run and how far you run should all be considered when shopping for running shoes. A knowledgeable salesperson should be able to help you make a selection based on these factors. Your old shoes may give you clues as to what type of support or cushioning you may need; bring them with you when you go shopping for a professional opinion. 
  • Walking: Shock absorption under the heel and the ball of the foot is important for walking shoes. Walking shoes are lighter, more rigid, and less bulky than running shoes, although running shoes may also be worn for walking. Make sure your shoes are comfortable and allow you to stride easily. 
  • Cycling: There are different cycling shoes for racing and mountain biking, so choose the one that best suits your needs. In general, cycling shoes should provide support across the arch and the instep, and lift in the heel. If you are a casual rider, cross training shoes may be worn. 
  • Golf: golf shoes are light and strong, and may be equipped with special cleats for added traction on the green or in the rough. 
  • Tennis, volleyball & basketball: Shoes for these sports must allow for sudden stops, side-to-side sliding, and running. Look for good traction and a stiffer sole; the padded toe box in tennis shoes will help prevent injuries. 

For any sport and footwear you choose, it is important to wear the shoes properly and replace them promptly when they are worn. When shopping for athletic shoes, make sure you find the proper fit by following these tips: 

  • Stand up when having your feet measured to allow for expansion. 
  • As feet are often different sizes, have both feet measured, try on both shoes, and by the size of the larger foot. 
  • Walk around in the shoes: they should be comfortable right away! 
  • Go shopping in the afternoon or evening, when feet tend to swell and are at their largest. 
  • Wear the type of sock you plan to wear with the shoe. 

Follow these simple guidelines and you'll be well on your way to success, from the feet up.