Athletic Shoes for Your Feet and Your Sport
The days of going to a department store and buying a basic athletic shoe for all your activities are gone. Now you face a bewildering array of types, styles, and colors, and you may not know where to start. Here’s a good rule of thumb: know your feet and know your sport. These two things are crucial in choosing the right type of shoe.
Know Your Feet
Are your feet wide or narrow? Do you have high arches or flat feet? Are your toes all in place and accounted for or do some drift to the left or right or bulge out at the sides? These are all questions to ask if you want to understand what type of shoes you need.
Wide feet need plenty of room in the instep and front of the shoe so your toes can lie flat and not be pinched together. Shoes that pinch can aggravate problems like bunions or hammertoes. On the other hand, wide shoes are bad for narrow feet, because the more your foot slips and slides around in your shoes, the more your chance of developing calluses or blisters. Footwear needs to fit snugly, but with enough room for your toes to wiggle around a bit. You also should leave about a fingertip’s width of space at the end of your toes, to make sure they don’t bang into the front of the shoes during activity.
Know Your Sport
Shoes are now custom made for individual sports. What works well for walking may really hamper you while playing tennis. Field sports often need cleats for stability and traction while you run and change directions. All the jumping in basketball requires footwear with a bit more ankle support.
A good walking shoe has an Achilles notch to reduce pressure on the tendon, a roll bar to keep your foot from tilting inward, and good support and cushioning for your arch. A running shoe needs more flexibility so you can get more power as you push off with each step, but still requires arch support and cushioning as well. Court shoes for tennis, basketball or volleyball have good tread and softer leather uppers. Heights vary according to how much ankle support the activity requires.
Baseball, soccer, lacrosse, and football cleats each have their own specific cleat pattern. However, they all need to provide good traction for side to side and turning movements, but not so much that they catch in the turf and you end up twisting your ankle. Shoe materials and structure can also vary among these sports.
Hiking shoes/boots need a good structure to provide stability on uneven ground, good tread to grip the surface, and good cushioning to absorb impact from many surfaces. There are also special shoes for skiing, skating, hockey—even cycling and ballet.
How to Fit Athletic Shoes
You may have heard these tips before: shop later in the day when your feet may have swelled, measure each time you shop, and wear the socks you will wear during your sport. Pay enough for a good pair, but don’t pay extra for a style with a famous athlete’s name on it—unless it has unique features you need that you can’t get elsewhere. You should seek a store with professional sales help that can answer your questions about shoe type and structure and check your fit.
If you need guidance about the best shoe style for your feet, contact The Plateau Foot & Ankle Clinic in Sammamish, WA at (425) 868-3338 before you shop. We can evaluate your foot structure, diagnose any current issues you have, and advise you on that type of shoes that will help prevent problems from developing. We provide excellent foot care for athletes throughout the Sammamish, Bellevue, Issaquah, and Redmond area.