Athletic shoes have become highly technical with sophisticated details to enhance comfort and performance for specific sports. Such shoes can also be rather expensive. The following tips will help when purchasing your next pair of athletic shoes.
Know your Foot Type (i.e High Arches/Low Arches, Flat Foot, High Instep). Many stores have machines that measure this, when you step on a pad.
Athletic Shoes tend to run small. Donâ€™t be surprised if Athletic Shoes are Â½ to 2 sizes larger than your normal shoe size.
Allow a thumb's space at the toe when trying shoes on at the store. This will accommodate for the swelling that can occur in the feet during exercise.
Wear the appropriate sport-specific athletic socks and athletic shoes for the corresponding sport. These will provide the right cushioning and support for the participating sport.
Check the wear on the soles of your old athletic shoes. Let's define "Pronation." Pronation begins when the foot strikes the ground, and determines how the body weight is transferred from heel to toe during the overall motion. Sports that require a great deal of running need shoes that properly provide support to the feet, ankles, knees, and hips. Pronation can be divided into three groups:
Over-pronation — Puts more wear on the inside forefoot of the soles. During the weight transfer between heel and toe, the arch collapses a bit, and the heel and toe rotate inward. People with low arches are susceptible to over-pronation. Too much pronation isnâ€™t good, because it can lead to ailments like plantar fasciitis and runnerâ€™s knee.
Under-pronation — Puts more wear on the outside forefoot of the soles. The lack of pronation causes damage to the body, because it has only a partial ability to absorb shock. People with high arches are susceptible to under-pronation. This can lead to ailments like shin splints and tendonitis.
Neutral pronation - Neutral pronation occurs when the foot experiences a normal, healthy amount of pronation. In healthy movement more of the toe area will be used when pushing off; the weight distributes fairly evenly among all of the toes with a slight emphasis on the big toe and second toe which are better adapted to handle more of the load (wikipedia)
If possible, take your old shoes to the store to get the assistance of a sales professional regarding the best-suited athletic shoes for your feet.
Try on new athletic shoes with the appropriate athletic socks.
Allow plenty of time for trying on athletic shoes. It possible that it could take as long as 45 minutes to select the right style and brand for a particular foot type.
It's Important that the athletic shoes are worn with moisture management socks, so that the feet remain dry during athletic activities. This will also minimize the chance for blisters and will minimize foot odor.
If you find an athletic shoe that fits well, consider purchasing a second pair. Most athletic shoe models are discontinued every 12 to 15 months.
As shoes age, they lose their ability to provide cushioning and support. Athletic shoes that are worn frequently, like running shoes, should be replaced every 300 to 400 miles. This is particularly important for running shoes.
Importance of Mid-Soles Mid-soles are a key design element in the construction of athletic shoes that assists in foot stability, and helps in correct in over-pronation tendencies. Placed in between the outer sole and the insole, the mid-sole plays a key role in absorbing shock when running or jumping. There are two basic textile polymer materials used as mid-soles:
Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) — This foam material consists of thousands of bubbles. Each foam bubble is filled with air, which creates a lightweight flexible material. For this reason, EVA is more appealing to the athlete.
Polyurethane (PU) — This foam is heavier and denser than EVA. However, PU mid-soles are more durable over time when compared to EVA mid-soles. PU mid-soles provide less bounce for the wearer, but the bounce lasts longer.
What to Look for in Sport Specific Shoes
These shoes need to absorb the shock from jumping, stepping, and running, as well as provide shoe support for swift, sideways motions. Key qualities:
Firm heel for stability
Extra cushioning for the ball of the foot
Lateral support at the ankle
These shoes need to absorb the shock from jumping, stepping, and running, as well as to provide shoe support for swift, sideways motions. Look fo these qualities:
Firm, thick heel and midsole for stability
Extra cushioning in the heel
Extra support at the ankle
Deep channels on the sole for extra grip
Side to side mobility
These shoes are for such sports as football and soccer, and should allow excellent traction. Look for shoes with these qualities:
Firm heel for stability
Special toe protection
These shoes can be used for a variety of sports. Look for shoes with these qualities:
Side to side mobility
Side to Side support for lateral movements
These should give the cyclist the ability to sustain constant contact with the pedal. Look for shoes with these qualities:
Lightweight soles and uppers
Excellent gripping quality
Thin, but firm soles
Snug-fitting heels that hold the heel in place while pedaling.
These shoes need to absorb the shock for quick movements, as well as to provide extra traction sand support for swift, sideways movement. Look for shoes with these qualities:
Outsoles that are wide and have a flat bottom for side to side movements
Firm heel for stability
Excellent toe support
Thin, firm soles
Ankle support for side to side motion
There are five types of running shoes. Three of these types are based on the wearerâ€™s foot type (i.e. over-pronation or under-pronation). The remaining two types are based on the sport usage.
Motion Control Features â€“ Based on the wearerâ€™s foot type
For wearers with flat feet or low arches
For wearers with moderate to extreme over-pronation
For over-weight wearers, who need extra support
Stability Features â€“ Based on the wearerâ€™s foot type
For wearers with medium arches
For wearers with mild to moderate pronation in either direction
Cushioned Features â€“ Based on the wearer's foot type
For wearers with high arches
For wearers with under-pronation
Trail Shoes â€“ Based on Sport usage
For off-road runners
For extra traction
For greater shoe durability
For greater sole durability through thicker soles
Racing Shoes â€“ Based on sport usage
For additional motion control
Need to be lightweight for fast-paced training and racing
Need to have a low heel and flexible forefoot for racing
These shoes should provide cushioning support that helps the foot transition easily from heel to toe. Look for shoes with these qualities:
Bendable cushioning for easy walking
Rocker-bottom soles or upturned toes for ease in walking
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