March 17, 2010
In life, it's nice to have options. But when it comes to athletic footwear, sometimes too many options can leave you feeling overwhelmed and confused as to exactly what you should be looking for. Here are a few simple tips on how to find a pair of athletic shoes that are right for you.
Purpose- In order to begin the process of selecting what type of shoe would be best for you, it is important to first identify what type of activity or sport they will be used for (e.g., tennis, walking, aerobics, etc). If you engage in a variety of activities, a multipurpose shoe, such as cross trainers, may be a good alternative.
Foot type- From high arches to low arches, foot type is an important factor to consider when purchasing athletic footwear. Typically individuals with high-arched feet require greater shock absorption than those with a normal-arched foot, whereas individuals with low-arched (or “flat”) feet require shoes with less cushioning yet greater support in the mid-foot region and better heel control. To determine the amount of cushioning a shoe offers, place the thumb of one hand inside the heel of the shoe and the other hand under the sole of the shoe near the heel then compress your hands together. The more compression you feel, the more shock absorption the shoe offers.
Fit- Selecting a shoe that fits properly is essential. When trying on shoes, wear the same type of socks that you plan to wear during activity. Socks made with synthetic fibers, such as polyester and acrylic tend to provide better blister protection. To also help prevent blisters, make sure that the shoes you select do not pinch any area of your foot or ankle, especially the top of your toes and the sides of your feet, which are common areas for blisters to form. As for the overall fit, the ball of your foot should coincide with the widest part of the shoe leaving adequate space for you to comfortably move your toes. The space between the end of your longest toe and the end of the shoe should be approximately the width of your index finger. This space will allow for variances in foot size, which occurs naturally throughout the course of the day, and also for a variety of foot movements within the shoe.
Jessica Matthews, MS, E-RYTContributor
Jessica Matthews, M.S., E-RYT is assistant professor of exercise science at Miramar College. As a leading fitness expert, writer and educator Jessica is a regular contributor to numerous publications, including Shape and Oprah.com. She holds a B.S. in physical education teacher education from Coastal Carolina University and M.S. in physical education from Canisius College. She is a certified Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor and Health Coach through the American Council on Exercise (ACE) as well as an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT) through Yoga Alliance and trained stand-up paddleboard (SUP) yoga instructor. Prior to teaching at Miramar, Jessica worked full-time ACE, serving in a number of key roles including exercise physiologist, certification director and senior health and fitness editor. Her past work also includes serving as aquatics director at Conway Medical Wellness and Fitness Center and designing health and physical education curriculum for grades K-12. Full Bio Jessica Matthews »