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How To Choose the Right Athletic Shoe
Why It Is Important to Choose the Right Shoe
Avoid Developing Foot Problems
- Blisters—fluid-filled bump on the skin
- Bunions—swollen, sore bumps at the joint that connects your big toe to your foot
- Calluses—abnormal thickening of the top layer of skin
- Corns—small, thickened area of skin that forms on the toes
- Hammertoes—a toe that tends to remain bent at the middle joint in a claw-like position
Minimize Risk of Injury or Chronic Ailment
- Plantar fasciitis—the plantar fascia, a supportive, fibrous band of tissue running from the heel to the ball of the foot, is injured, resulting in pain on the bottom of the foot
- Heel spurs—calcium deposits that form where the plantar fascia connects to your heel bone
- Stress fractures—tiny cracks in your bones that develop when the repetitive impact of jogging or running overcomes the ability of the foot bones to withstand this stress
- Sesamoiditis—tenderness or inflammation at the sesamoid bones, accessory bones found beneath the large first metatarsal bone in the ball of the foot
What You Need to Consider in Making the Decision
- Pronators have a low or flat arch and tend to wear down the inner edges of their shoes. If you are a pronator, you should look for shoes that offer support for your midfoot area, which limits overuse of the inside edge of your feet.
- Supinators have a high arch and tend to wear down the outer edges of their shoes. Supinators require shoes with extra cushioning, particularly in the mid-arch area, to absorb shock and stabilize the heel.
- People with neutral feet have an average arch and tend to wear down the heels of shoes evenly. They can wear just about any type of shoe.
When Making Your Purchase
- Running—Runners and joggers should wear shoes that provide flexibility in the toe area and overall cushioning for impact (shock absorption). Such shoes should also have good heel control.
- Barefoot Running—Talk to a trainer before making the transition to barefoot running shoes. It is not for every type of runner and the switch needs to be done gradually. Keep in mind that barefoot running shoes may not have extra support or cushion, but will give your feet protection.
- Walking—Walkers should also look for shock absorption in the heel and especially under the ball of the foot. Walking shoes have more rigidity in the front than running shoes, so you can roll off your toes rather than bend through them.
- Aerobics—Shoes for aerobic conditioning should be lightweight to prevent foot fatigue and have extra shock absorption in the sole beneath the ball of the foot where the most stress occurs.
- Tennis—For tennis and other court sports, you will need shoes that provide stability on the inside and outside of the foot plus flexibility in the sole beneath the ball of the foot.
- Basketball—Basketball players should choose a shoe with a wider base and a thick, stiff sole to give extra stability on the court. A high-top shoe provides support when landing from a jump.
- Cross trainers—Cross trainers combine several features so you can participate in more than one sport. A good pair should have the flexibility in the forefoot that you need for running combined with the lateral control necessary for aerobics or tennis. They are fine for a general athletic shoe, but if you regularly participate in a sport, consider getting a sport-specific shoe.
- Field sports, hiking, and specialty sports—Cleats, studs, or spikes are appropriate for field sports like soccer, football, and baseball. Special hiking shoes are available for trail blazing. Likewise, for sports such as skating, hockey, golf, and bicycling, you may want to wear shoes made specifically for these activities.
Getting the Right Fit
American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine http://www.aapsm.org/
American Podiatric Medical Association. http://www.apma.org/
Canadian Orthopaedic Association http://www.coa-aco.org/
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/index%5Fe.html/
American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine. Selecting a running shoe. American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine website. Available at: http://www.aapsm.org/selectingshoes.html . December 6, 2012.
Athletic Shoes. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons OrthoInfo website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00318. Updated August 2012. Accessed December 6, 2012.
Plantar Fasiitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated November 2, 2012. Accessed December 6, 2012.
Selecting a Running Shoe. American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine website. Available at: http://www.aapsm.org/selectingshoes.html. Accessed December 6, 2012.
Selecting and Effectively Using Running Shoes. American College of Sports Medicine website. Available at: http://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/selecting-and-effectively-using-running-shoes.pdf. Accessed December 6, 2012.
Sesamoiditis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated September 18, 2012. Accessed December 6, 2012.
Stress Fractures. American College of Sports Medicine website. Available at: http://www.acsm.org/docs/current-comments/stressfractures.pdf. Accessed December 6, 2012.
Tight Shoes and Foot Problems. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons OrthoInfo website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00146. Updated August 2012. Accessed December 6, 2012.
- Reviewer: Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 12/2012
- Update Date: 12/06/2012