If you’re an athlete, whether that means a weekend warrior or a member of a competitive team, your shoes are key to your performance and health. At Go Feet in Mays Landing, and Linwood, New Jersey, podiatrists Dr. Stuart Honick and Dr. James Williamson provide guidance when choosing the right shoes for your activity. Here’s what they want you to know.

Choose a shoe that’s appropriate for your activity

Not all shoes are created equal. Shoe designs support different athletic movements. For example, basketball shoes are made for jumping and pivoting movements, while running shoes have support in the heels and arches for pounding on pavement. If you aren’t sure what type of shoe is best for your sport, reach out to Go Feet for recommendations.

Buy more than one pair

If you’re an athlete who practices on consecutive days, you may benefit from having more than one pair of shoes for your sport. For example, distance runners put a lot of wear-and-tear on their shoes after a training session. It takes a full day or two for the structure of the shoe to bounce back. Having a second pair of shoes to wear while one pair recovers ensures you have the best support for every practice session.

Know that shoes have a shelf life

Shoes wear out. Their support breaks down with use, so your performance may suffer, and you’ll be more vulnerable to injury.

If you’re exceptionally active, it may take just a few months before you need another pair. We can help evaluate your shoes and help you determine if it’s time to get new ones.

Determine your foot strike pattern

Runners in particular should pay attention to their gait and whether they supinate (turn outward) or pronate (turn inward). Neutral runners tend to have a relatively level way of their foot striking the ground.  Shoes are made to support your particular foot action so as to prevent pain along your kinetic chain, like in your ankles, knees, and hips.

Professionals in a quality running store or a member of our team can evaluate your specific pattern of striking the ground to recommend the best shoes for you.

Consider where you practice

Your shoe choice is also dictated by where you do your sport. If you’re a trail runner, for example, you want a shoe that helps you navigate rocky, dusty terrain. Track athletes benefit from shoes made for their specific type of surface (turf, synthetic, or dirt).

Be smart when you try on shoes

Go shopping for shoes later in the day or after a workout. Your feet swell as the day progresses or as they incur impact, and you want a pair that accommodates this. To ensure a proper fit, you should also wear socks you might wear during your sport when you try on shoes.

Try on both shoes to make sure your right and left foot feel comfortable, tighten the laces, and walk around (or run if the store has a treadmill for your use). You want about ½-inch of space between your longest toe and the tip of your shoes. The front area of the shoe should be roomy, so you can wiggle your toes, too.

Ask about custom orthotics

Even if you have the “right” shoes for your activity, foot strike pattern, and terrain, you may benefit from custom orthotics. Athletic shoes may be tailored to your activity and general foot strike, but none are fully customized. Orthotics offered at Go Feet are based on your individual foot shape and form and thus can provide optimal support and comfort for your feet.

At Go Feet, we want to promote optimal foot function and help you prevent injuries. If you have questions about athletic shoes, don’t hesitate to set up an appointment. As sports medicine specialists, we can help you avoid injury and optimize play by choosing the right footwear. Call one of our offices today, or use the online tool to schedule. 

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