10 Tips for Choosing Athletic Shoes
Proper-fitting shoes make all the difference whether you walk or run
Running and walking are among the purest, most natural forms of exercise
around. With newfangled innovations like Freon-filled midsoles and pump-it-up
tongues, it's knowing which shoes to buy that seems to require an advanced
Choose the wrong athletic shoes and you could end up lying on the couch
nursing shin splints or aching heels instead of enjoying a brisk walk or
While most specialty sport-shoe stores have knowledgeable staff to guide
you, you'll be a few steps ahead of the game armed with some basic knowledge
about your feet and their specific needs. Here is some expert advice to heed
before buying new footwear:
Don't make shoes multitask. Walking shoes are stiffer;
running shoes are more flexible, with extra cushioning to handle greater
impact. If you do both activities, get a pair for each one.
Know your foot. Sure, we've all got 10 toes and two heels,
but beyond that, feet come in a variety of shapes -- and knowing your foot's
particular quirks is key to selecting the right pair of shoes. Most major
brands now offer a model to suit every foot type.
One way to determine your foot's shape is to do a "wet test"--- wet
your foot, step on a piece of brown paper and trace your footprint. Or just
look at where your last pair of shoes shows the most wear.
If your footprint shows the entire sole of your foot with little to no curve
on the inside -- or if your shoes show the most wear on the inside edge -- it
means you've got low arches or flat feet and tend toward overpronation --
meaning your feet roll inward. Overpronation can create extra wear on the
outside heel and inside forefoot. You'll want a shoe with a motion-control
feature and maximum support.
If the footprint shows only a portion of your forefoot and heel with a
narrow connection between the two -- or if your shoes wear out mostly on the
outside edge -- you have high arches and tend to underpronate (also called
supinate), meaning your feet roll outward. Underpronation causes wear on the
outer edge of the heel and the little toe. Look for a cushioned shoe with a
You have a neutral arch if your footprint has a distinct curve along the
inside and your shoes wear out uniformly. Look for a "stability" shoe,
which has the right mix of cushioning and support.