The key to enhancing performance and preventing injuries in athletics and day-to-day physical activities is to wear proper-fitting shoes. It is important to find shoes that not only feel comfortable, but also protect your feet.
Choosing between different types of athletic shoes and sneakers can be difficult. Shoes come in different designs, materials, and weights. Every shoe design is distinct; shoes are designed to protect the areas of the feet that receive the most stress and impact during physical activities. Since every sport requires a different type of movement, it is important to find a shoe designed specifically for one particular activity.
What to look for
There is a reason shoes are labeled as running shoes, walking shoes, tennis shoes, soccer shoes, aerobics shoes, or cross-trainers; each of these types of shoes has a unique design. While it is not uncommon for people to utilize a single pair of sneakers for multiple types of activities, it is always best to find a shoe that it suited for the right activity.
Here are some tips to help you match your shoes to a particular physical activity:
- Walking – Walking shoes should have good shock absorption, smooth tread, and a flexible sole that encourages rolling of the feet.
- Running – Running shoes should be light with added cushioning, flexibility, and stability in the heel.
- Court Shoes – Basketball, tennis, and volleyball shoes should have good ankle support and a thick sole.
- Field Sports – Soccer, football, softball, and baseball shoes are usually cleated or studded. These shoes must provide good traction.
- Hiking – Hiking shoes should have plenty of room in the toe box, a thick sole, and strong ankle support.
- Track and Field – Track and field shoes vary depending on the type of race being run. There are different shoes to fit different gaits and training styles.
Issues created by improper shoe fit
Many serious foot conditions are caused by one thing – poorly fitting or inappropriate footwear. Shoes that do not fit properly can cause:
Inappropriate shoe wear can lead to:
- Ankle sprains
- Heel pain
- Other painful foot disorders
- Shin splints
For example, running shoes are designed to support the foot as it moves forward heel-to-toe with extra cushioning on the heel and ball of the foot. On the other hand, aerobics shoes and cross-trainers are designed to support side-to-side movements. It is usually acceptable to wear cross-trainers when running, but wearing running shoes to an aerobics class can lead to serious foot and ankle injuries. The best way to avoid injury is to make sure the shoe you select is designed for your chosen activity.