Choosing Exercise Footwear

Choosing Exercise Footwear

Footwear is perhaps the most important item of equipment for almost any activity. Shoes protect and support your feet and improve your traction. When you jump or run, you place as much as six times more force on your feet than when you stand still. Shoes can help cushion against the stress that this additional force places on your lower legs, thereby preventing injuries. Some athletic shoes are also designed to help prevent ankle rollover, another common source of injury.

General Guidelines

When choosing athletic shoes, first consider the activity you’ve chosen for your exercise program. Shoes appropriate for different activities have very different characteristics.

Foot type is another important consideration. If your feet tend to roll inward excessively, you may need shoes with additional stability features on the inner side of the shoe to counteract this movement. If your feet tend to roll outward excessively, you may need highly flexible and cushioned shoes that promote foot motion. Most women will get a better fit if they choose shoes specifically designed for women’s feet rather than downsized versions of men’s shoes.

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Successful Shopping

For successful shoe shopping, keep the following strategies in mind:

• Shop late in the day or, ideally, following a workout. Your foot size increases over the course of the day and after exercise.

Wear socks like those you plan to wear during exercise.

• Do your heels fit snugly into the shoe? Do they stay put when you walk, or do they slide up?

• Are the arches of your feet right on top of the shoes’ arch supports?

• Do the shoes feel stable when you twist and turn on the balls of your feet? Try twisting from side to side while standing on one foot.

• Do you feel any pressure points?

If you exercise at dawn or dusk, choose shoes with reflective sections for added visibility and safety.

• Replace athletic shoes about every three 300-500 miles of jogging or walking.

• Try on both shoes and wear them for 10 or more minutes. Try walking on a noncarpeted surface. Approximate the movements of your activity: walk, jog, run, jump, and so on.

• Check the fit and style carefully:

• Is the toe box roomy enough? Your toes will spread out when your foot hits the ground or when you push off. There should be at least one thumb’s width of space from the longest toe to the end of the toe box.

• Do the shoes have enough cushioning? Do your feet feel supported when you bounce up and down? Try bouncing on your toes and on your heels.

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