If you are an athlete, choosing the right footwear is crucial to the safety of your feet. Not everyone is made the same and different shoes will not work for different people. Also, knowing the difference between running shoes, walking shoes, and training shoes is very important. Take the time to choose a pair of shoes that is durable and will provide you with the support you need.
Choosing the Right Athletic Shoes
To pick the right footwear for your physical activity, the first thing you should keep in mind is the type of foot you have. Try doing the “wet test” by placing your foot in a tub of water and then leaving the imprint on a brown piece of paper. If you can see the entire sole of your foot then you have little or no arch, which means you have flat feet and probably an overpronated gait. If you can only see the ball of your foot and your heel with a thin line between them you have high arches, which means you likely underpronate when you walk. If you have a normal curve between the heel and ball you have a neutral arch. People who overpronate need a shoe with a lot of support and a motion-control feature. Athletes who underpronate need a pair that has plenty of cushioning and a soft midsole. If you have neutral arches you just need a pair that offers stability with both cushioning and support.
Different Types of Footwear
All athletic shoes are not created equal. There are basketball, soccer, walking, and running shoes, and many other types as well. It is important to know what you are wearing and to have a pair that accommodates all of your activities.
- Running shoes come in two basic types: supportive and minimalist. Both are viable options. Supportive offer shock-absorption and heel control, while minimalist let your feet be more natural and free.
- Walking shoes should be lightweight, with cushioning in the heel and metatarsal area. This will help prevent plantar fasciitis.
- Tennis shoes should also be lightweight and allow you to move back and forth with ease. Shock-absorption is not as important, but the amount of tread is. If you play on a soft court you will want more traction, but if you play on a hard court you will want higher tread.
- Cross trainers should be a combination of the above. If you participate in many sports you can probably get by with a good pair of cross trainers.
Choosing Athletic Shoes for Children
Children are becoming more active again, which is a good thing. We want to help keep their feet protected by picking out the right shoes. Kids are not always able to tell us specifics about how their shoes feel, so knowing a few key elements about choosing the right shoes is important. Always go shopping at the end of the day when their feet are largest, and get both feet measured while standing in case there is a size variation between them. Allow for wiggle room, but not too much or blisters might occur. Make sure they are wearing the socks they will be using for their sport. Have your child walk around in the shoes, and if they are not immediately comfortable, move on to another pair. There should be no “breaking in” of new athletic shoes.
If you have questions about getting your feet measured or choosing new athletic shoes, call Dr. Mitchell Wachtel, podiatrist North Andover, at (978) 794-8406 to schedule an appointment at one of our three Massachusetts offices.