Once upon a time, simply owning one pair of shoes for all your sports activities was common. Whether you were walking, biking, or running, one pair of shoes was more than enough to get the job done.
Fast forward a few decades, however, and things have drastically changed. Podiatrists and foot experts alike are now recommending our sports of choice to be taken into consideration when buying athletic footwear.
In fact, nowadays shoes have become highly specialized. They are now made to accommodate the specific types of stress and impacts associated with each sport.
Are you planning on running through trails or on the road? Which position in the field (or court) are you playing? Will you be engaging in those activities regularly or just on the weekends? These are all things to keep in mind when looking for the perfect pair of kicks.
Now, you may be wondering why the type of athletic shoes you wear matters. As long as they fit, shouldn’t you be good to go?
While proper fit is an important aspect of buying appropriate shoes, it is definitely not the only thing to take into consideration. Here’s why …
Does it Really Matter What Type of Shoes I Wear?
The truth is choosing the type of shoe for the sport or activity you participate in can make a huge difference for the overall health of your feet and ankles in many ways.
For starters, most athletic shoes are designed specifically for certain activities, and can greatly affect your comfort and even performance. But beyond that, using the right type of footwear can also help prevent painful foot and ankle injuries like sprains, stress fractures, and heel pain.
These (and many other) lower limb injuries are actually more common than you might think. Whenever our bodies are active, our feet and ankles endure a tremendous amount of pressure with each and every step we take. Not to mention all the strain they also experience due to the movements involved in certain sports, such as quick changes in direction.
And since we know you don’t want unnecessary injuries to derail your fitness or weight loss goals, investing in a quality shoe is something you should definitely keep in mind. There’s nothing worse than being sidelined by an injury that could have been prevented in the first place.
So let’s get to it!
Finding the Right Shoes for Your Activity
When you walk into an athletic shoe store, it can certainly feel a bit overwhelming to find the best fit for you and your activity. All the different brands, colors and designs may have your head spinning, but we have some tips for you to keep in mind based on your activity of choice:
- If you are a walker, look for shoes that are flexible in the ball of the foot and support the arch as well as the heel.
- If you are a runner, look for shoes that provide stability and feature flat treads that allow quick changes of direction.
- If you do cross-training, look for shoes that provide a balance of minimal support, a stable base and freedom of movement.
- If you weightlift, look for shoes that are stiffer for better stability and feature a raised heel to increase the ankle’s range of motion. This will help keep your body upright while doing things like squatting.
- If you are a cyclist, look for shoes that are lightweight, aerodynamic and fit a bit more snugly.
- If you are a hiker, look for boots that are heavier and rise above ankles for better support, as well as stiffer midsoles.
And if you have any questions, make sure to connect with a shoe store employee. They will be able to guide you in the right direction.
Of course, no matter which type of footwear you choose, you should always make sure there is plenty of room in the toe box to wiggle your toes freely, and that there is plenty of arch support and protection for the heels.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Athletic Footwear
Way too often, athletes will make mistakes when it comes to their footwear. Here are some of the most common mistakes you can easily avoid:
- Wearing shoes that are old. You should replace running shoes every 350 to 500 miles, and walking shoes every 6 to 9 months (or around 1,000 to 1,500 miles of walking).
- Wearing workout shoes for other activities. Resist the temptation to wear them for other activities like running errands, shopping, or other forms of exercise.
- Not buying the right size. Never wear shoes that are too tight or too loose, as doing so can raise the risk of toe damage including hammertoes, bunions, and even fractures. Shop for footwear in the afternoon, when your feet are at their largest size.
- Not getting the proper foot support. Find the right combination of heel and arch support, cushioning, and shock absorption to minimize the chance of injuries.
- Wearing shoes that are too tight. This can squeeze nerves and tendons, exacerbate already existing bunions, or cause painful blisters.
We Can Help You Find the Perfect Kicks
We know – there’s a lot to think about when looking for the perfect pair of shoes, but once you find the right ones for you, your feet will thank you! And while “going on the hunt” can often feel overwhelming, remember that you can always count on Kalamazoo Podiatry to help steer you in the right direction.
If you have any questions, or would like to schedule an appointment at either of our two offices, please feel free to reach out to us at:
- Kalamazoo – (269) 373-1019
- Allegan – (269) 673-8757
And if you prefer to connect with us electronically, simply fill out our online request form and a member of our staff will reach out to you.