A guide to proper footwear for exercising

A guide to proper footwear for exercising

by Laura Dillavou

With many aspects of physical fitness in the news today, it iseasy to forget about the basics. This article will start from theground up and focus on proper footwear and care for anyworkout.

While often said that shoes make the outfit, the same holds truefor athletes; the shoe makes the workout. Because so much weightand pressure is put onto the feet, it is important to wear andmaintain good shoes, whether you are a runner, walker, basketballplayer, or aerobic enthusiast. Every shoe, just like every foot, isdifferent and affects the results of a workout.

Many details, such as an athlete’s weight, shape of foot,surface, and usage affect the shoe that he/she should buy. Thecushioning of the shoe is the fastest part to break down. Itusually takes about six months for a person to log 400 to 600 mileson one pair of shoes before it’s time to replace them.

While a shoe may not look worn out, closer inspection can revealcurling or an imbalance of the sole. There is an easy way to see ifshoes are nearing expiration date: simply place the shoes next toeach other on a flat surface and then look at them from eye-level.If the shoes curve inward or are uneven, that is a good indicatorit is time to go shopping. It is also a good idea to look at thebottoms of the shoe and see where the most pressure is put.

Runners have a tendency to roll from the outside of the foot tothe inner side and then up onto the toes. This is more of aflat-footed approach than walking or stop and go exercise, liketennis. Therefore, proper arch support and cushioning are key whenbuying a new pair of shoes.

While athletic shoes are sold everywhere from JC Penny to FootLocker, it is key to find a sales associate with knowledge aboutdifferent shoes and can explain the pros and cons of one shoe overanother. Shoes are a hard item to take back, so bring the socks youwear while working out and try and go in the afternoon, when feetare a little bigger, due to swelling. Most stores are more thanwilling to let you walk or run around to insure that your nextpurchase is exactly what you want.

Many times, athletic shoes will run smaller than fashion oreveryday shoes. When buying, make sure there is about a half inchbetween the longest toe and the edge of the shoe. Walk around toinsure that your heel is not slipping around, which will lead topainful blisters down the road. Finally, the shoes should fitsnugly, but not too tightly as to where they will cause pain.

Another aspect that affects the fit of shoes is an insole. Theseare designed to provide more stability and support for the foot,especially in the heel and arch area. However, insoles are not anextension on the life or durability of a shoe.

Overall, the right shoes can prevent injury and enhance yourworkout. The wrong shoes can lead to injury and muscle strain in avery short time. Spend the time to shop around and buy the onesthat fit best, even if that means shelling out a few more bucks. Inthe end, it will be worth it, for the sake of your body andworkout.

For more information on proper shoe care and how to buy theright shoe, check out runnersworld.com or visit your nearestathletic shoe store for a one-on-one consultation.