Whether gym, football, or running shoes, proper-fitting athletic shoes can help you improve your performance and prevent injuries. If you love running, or any other type of exercise, you must look for a comfortable shoe to enjoy your walk or run. Additionally, there is a high risk of injuries such as shin splints, blisters, and aching heels if you choose the wrong athletic shoe.
Though most athletes know the importance of quality shoes, knowing the best athletic shoes to buy is a challenge as there are numerous athletic shoes available in the market today. This guide will help you choose the best athletic shoe for you, depending on your needs.
Tips for choosing athletic shoes
Go to an athletic specialty store
Though most shoe brands like Asics do sell their shoes to other stores, you will most likely find more variety in a store that sorely deals with athletic shoes. Having a variety means that you can fit several shoes before selecting your best shoe. In addition to varieties, most of these stores have employees with more athletics-specific knowledge, meaning they are better equipped to guide you to the perfect athletic shoe pair for you.
Consider fit, not fashion, when choosing athletic shoes
Nowadays, numerous fashion influencers are convincing potential buyers to purchase specific sports shoes advertised as stylish. Though stylish shoes may boost your confidence when running, they may not provide the comfort required for athletic activities. Quality athletic shoes are not only designed for the activity you will be doing but also for other factors like your foot arc and how your feet will make contact with the ground.
Avoid making shoes multitask
Since every athletic shoe is designed to meet a specific need, you should have different shoes for different activities. For example, while shoes for running are flexible, with some cushioning to handle more impact, walking shoes are stiffer. Therefore, running in walking shoes will not be comfortable and vice versa. So, if you participate in both activities, you should get a pear for each.
Another factor to consider when choosing athletic shoes is the surfaces where you will be playing. For example, if you are hiking on a remote trail with gravel and rough surfaces, you will need a different kind of shoe than when walking around your neighborhood.
Know your foot
Though we all have a heel and ten toes in each foot, our feet may vary in size and shape. Therefore, knowing your foot’s shape comes in handy when selecting the best athletic shoes for you. One way of determining your foot’s shape is by doing the “wet test”. In this test, you dip your foot in water and step on a brown piece of paper to trace your footprint. Alternatively, you can check where your last pair shows the most wear.
If you can see your foot’s entire sole on your footprint, or if your shoes wear more on the inner part, it means that you have a flat foot or have low arches and tend to overpronate. Overpronation means that your feet roll inward resulting in extra wear on the inside forefoot and the outside heel. This means that you should buy a shoe with enhanced support and a motion-control feature.
On the other hand, if you can only see a portion of your heel and forefoot plus a narrow curve connecting the two, or your shoes show the most wear on the outer parts, you have high arches and tend towards underpronation. Underpronation means that your feet roll outward, causing the most wear on the outer area around the heel and the little toe. People with this foot shape should look for a shoe that is soft at the middle of the sole and has extra cushioning.
The third foot shape is a neutral arch. You have this arch type if the footprint shows a distinctive curve along the inside, and your shoes have uniform wear. The best shoe for you if you have a neutral arch is the one with the right mix of support and cushioning.
Always fit shoes before buying
Though shoes have numbers to determine sizes, some styles and designs may run larger or smaller. Two shoes with the same number can fit differently if they are from different manufacturers and countries of origin.
Therefore, it is important to have your foot measured and then fit the shoe before buying. If you love adding insoles in your shoes, remember to bring them along together with the socks you wear during the sports activity. It is also advisable to buy your shoes in the evening as it is common for feet to swell during the day.
Also, if the store allows, you can walk around in the shoes for several minutes to determine how the shoe will feel when running. Some stores can also allow you to go for a run in the new pair of shoes and return them if they don’t fit right.
Always perform the wiggle test
The wiggle test is a great way to double-check the fit of athletic shoes before buying. The shoes you choose should have enough room that all your toes have enough space to wiggle freely. You can pinch the front of your shoe to check if there is enough space between the end of the shoe and the top of your big toe. The recommended space is a thumb-sized gap between the two.
You should also ensure that your heel fits perfectly in the shoe, not slipping when walking. When fitting your athletic shoe, taking your time can help you identify common flaws that may affect its suitability.
Unlike other shoe types where your purchase decision is mainly determined by fashion and style, an athletic shoe requires more considerations. You have to purchase the perfect athletic shoes to boost performance and avoid injuries caused by the wrong shoe size, design, and fit. The above tips should help you choose your best athletic shoe, depending on your needs.