What to Look for Athletic Shoes

There are many opportunities to be active and stay in shape by working out or participating in various sports in our Twin Falls and Burley, ID communities. If you play recreational sports, or even simply work out or run for exercise and fitness, it is important to know what to look for in athletic shoes. Choosing the right (or wrong) footwear for your favorite physical activities makes a big difference in the safety and health of your feet. Let’s explore this subject so you can make the right athletic shoe decisions!

Types of Athletic Shoes

athletic shoesAnyone wanting to buy a pair of athletic footwear has a wide range of options. Depending on your sport of choice, there are clearly many different manufacturers and shoe models, not to mention the various style choices! To better simplify things for you, there are some general categories of athletic shoes, including:

  • Running, training, and walking shoes. No matter if you enjoy running or simply prefer to take long walks, you need footwear offering excellent shock absorption, solid stability in the heel counter area, a certain degree of flexibility in the sole, and good traction. You should take your particular pronation pattern—normal, overpronation, or supination—into consideration when picking out these shoes.
  • Court-sport shoes. Shoes for athletic activities played on a court—basketball, tennis, volleyball—need to support the movements (forward, backward, and lateral) the sport requires. Due to high-impact forces, these shoes should be constructed of durable materials and feature outsoles that provide exceptional grip and traction.
  • Field-sport shoes. Typically, footwear for sports like baseball, football, and soccer (those played on a field) are spiked or cleated. The cleats and spikes vary based on field conditions and the actual sport, but these are essential features for providing optimal stability while moving.
  • Specialty-sport shoes. The footwear required for cycling, golf, and aerobic dancing vary extensively, depending on what kinds of motions are used in the sport. If anyone in your family participates in these particular activities, find a store specializing in equipment for the sport.

Shoe Buying Tips

When it comes to knowing what to look for in athletic shoes, fit is also a very important consideration. There are several things to keep in mind regarding this, including:

  • Go shopping late in the afternoon or early in the evening. Feet swell in size throughout the day, which means shoes that fit well in the morning will be tight later on. Shopping later means your footwear will fit correctly all day long.
  • Wear the socks and orthotic devices you will be wearing with your shoes when you try on new footwear. Not all socks are the same thickness, and variance can cause issues with regard to how the shoes fit.
  • Try bending the front of the shoe upward. It should bend in the toe box area, not in the midfoot area.
  • Twist the shoes lengthwise to see if it’s too flexible. If it does twist too easily, move on to the next pair and repeat until you find shoes that offer ample stability.
  • Try wiggling your toes upwards. If you can’t, you need a pair with a larger toe box.
  • Stand while wearing the shoes to determine if they fit correctly. Your feet spread out a little when all your body weight is on them. Trying on shoes while seated doesn’t provide enough of a picture as to how they will actually fit during use.
  • Walk around the store to see how the shoe feels, and if it provides the support and cushioning your feet require. Take a couple of laps around the store to make sure they feel right to you.

This information on what to look for in athletic shoes is a good starting point for considering foot health when you play sports. Of course, you should also check with your physician and our office to determine if you are healthy enough to participate in certain physical activities. Dr. Wettstein can evaluate your gait pattern and identify any potential causes of concern.

At Advanced Foot and Ankle, we want you to enjoy your favorite sports and stay safe while doing so! Call our Twin Falls office at (208) 731-6321 or our Burley office at (208)-312-4646 for additional information or assistance in scheduling an appointment with either location.