Choosing the Right Athletic Shoe for You

IMAGE Some sports, like football and hockey, require players to wear specialized equipment. Others, such as long distance running, require very little equipment to participate. But with few exceptions, sports will require some type of footwear.First things first. Do you need new shoes? There is an easy way to see if your shoes need to be replaced.

Look at Your Old Shoes

Once you have bought a pair of athletic shoes, how long should it be before you replace them? Many people wait until the soles of the shoes wear out before buying a new pair, but that is not a good idea. Very often, the shock absorption of running shoes or the lateral stability of cross-training and sport-specific shoes will wear out long before the soles do.In general, you should replace athletic shoes every 350-550 miles. You also need to consider other factors, like your activity, body weight, and the type of surface you exercise on. Keep in mind that it is better to use mileage as a guide regardless of the condition of the tread. A good way to estimate how much mileage should be put on your shoes is to take 75,000 and divide it by your current weight.Outside of mileage, are you still unsure if your shoes need to be replaced? There is an easy, visual check that you can do. Place the shoe on a flat surface, if you notice any unevenness, that is a good indication that it is time to replace the shoe. Also, look for other signs of wear, like creasing.If you are ready for a new pair, take a moment to think about how you use your shoes, and what you want to get out of them.

Choosing Athletic Footwear

You may feel that you need a different type of shoe for each athletic activity you participate in. But is this true? Generally, no. Unless you regularly participate in a specific sport—at least 2-3 times per week—a good cross-training shoe is usually sufficient. There are, of course, exceptions. For example, you are much better off playing football and baseball in cleats. And regular running definitely requires a specific type of shoe. Though shoe manufacturers hype the special features of each shoe they make, sports shoes can be divided into two general categories.
  • Lateral and stop-and-go movement —Virtually all sport-specific and cross-training shoes are designed for activities that require lateral and stop-and-go movement, such as baseball, basketball, tennis , racquetball , and soccer.. To enhance performance and prevent injury, all sport-specific and cross-training shoes include a great deal of support on the sides and are flat across the sole.
  • Continuous forward motion —Unlike most other athletic activities, running is done in a continuous forward motion, requiring very little lateral movement and very little starting and stopping. In addition, running inflicts a great deal more continuous and sustained pounding on the feet than almost any other athletic activity. So, although running shoes require relatively little lateral support, they incorporate a great deal of padding underneath the feet to act as shock absorbers. In addition, most running shoes include a slightly elevated heel (to reduce the transfer of stress to the Achilles tendons), as well as a much larger toe box (to accommodate the forward motion of the foot).

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