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March 31, 2017


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Tips on Buying Athletic Shoes

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.

General Considerations:

  • 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. Don’t be surprised if Athletic Shoes are ½ 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 isn’t good, because it can lead to ailments like plantar fasciitis and runner’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

Aerobic 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:

  1. Firm heel for stability
  2. Lightweight
  3. Extra cushioning for the ball of the foot
  4. Lateral support at the ankle

Basketball Shoes
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:

  1. Firm, thick heel and midsole for stability
  2. Extra cushioning in the heel
  3. Extra support at the ankle
  4. Deep channels on the sole for extra grip
  5. Side to side mobility

Cleated Shoes
These shoes are for such sports as football and soccer, and should allow excellent traction. Look for shoes with these qualities:

  1. Firm heel for stability
  2. Special toe protection
  3. Thin midsoles

 

Cross-Trainers
These shoes can be used for a variety of sports. Look for shoes with these qualities:

  1. Side to side mobility
  2. Forefoot tractability
  3. Side to Side support for lateral movements

Cycling Shoes
These should give the cyclist the ability to sustain constant contact with the pedal. Look for shoes with these qualities:

  1. Lightweight soles and uppers
  2. Excellent gripping quality
  3. Thin, but firm soles
  4. Snug-fitting heels that hold the heel in place while pedaling.

Tennis Shoes
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:

  1. Outsoles that are wide and have a flat bottom for side to side movements
  2. Firm heel for stability
  3. Good ventilation
  4. Excellent toe support
  5. Thin, firm soles
  6. Ankle support for side to side motion

Running Shoes
There are five types of running shoes. Three of these types are based on the wearer’s foot type (i.e. over-pronation or under-pronation). The remaining two types are based on the sport usage.

  1. Motion Control Features – Based on the wearer’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
  2. Stability Features – Based on the wearer’s foot type
    • For wearers with medium arches
    • For wearers with mild to moderate pronation in either direction
  3. Cushioned Features – Based on the wearer's foot type
    • For wearers with high arches
    • For wearers with under-pronation
  4. Trail Shoes – Based on Sport usage
    • For off-road runners
    • For extra traction
    • For greater shoe durability
    • For greater sole durability through thicker soles
  5. Racing Shoes – 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

Walking Shoes
These shoes should provide cushioning support that helps the foot transition easily from heel to toe. Look for shoes with these qualities:

  1. Bendable cushioning for easy walking
  2. Bendable midsoles
  3. Rocker-bottom soles or upturned toes for ease in walking

 


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