10 Tips for Choosing Athletic Shoes
Proper-fitting shoes make all the difference whether you walk or run
Feet Change continued...
Shop toward the end of the day. Feet swell over the course
of the day; they also expand while you run or walk, so shoes should fit your
feet when they're at their largest.
Bring your own socks -- the ones you wear while running or
walking. If you wear orthotics, bring those, too. Shoes need to fit with the
Don't believe in breaking in. Running and walking shoes
should feel comfortable right away, Raiken tells WebMD. Walk or run around the
store a bit to make sure they feel good in action.
Use the rule of thumb. There should be about 3/8-1/2 inch
between the front of your big toe and the end of the shoe -- about a thumb's
width. The heel should fit relatively tightly; your heel should not slip out
when you walk. The upper part of the shoe -- which goes over the top of your
foot -- should be snug and secure, and not too tight anywhere. The American
Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons writes that when fitting in to an athletic shoe
you should be able to freely wiggly all of your toes when the shoe is on.
Understand the bells and whistles. Some models of running
shoes look better suited to a space mission than a run in the park, but some of
those groovy-looking features actually serve a purpose. Clear inserts, filled
with gel, Freon, or air, provide extra shock absorption, as do those
springy-looking things. These features are especially good for people who tend
to get heel pain, says Raiken, and not so good for people whose ankles twist
easily, as shoes with extra cushioning tend to provide less traction.
Some shoes allow you to pump up the tongue, which lets people with
difficult-to-fit feet achieve a more customized fit.
Don't over- or underpay. Good-quality running and walking
shoes are fairly pricey -- and usually worth it. "A $15-shoe will not be as
good as an $80-shoe," says Raiken. But you'll pay a premium for
super-fashionable styles or those associated with a celebrity -- and they won't
be any better for your feet.
Know when to replace them. The average pair of running
shoes should be replaced after about 350-400 miles of use, says Clifford Jeng,
MD, a foot and ankle surgeon at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Md. Better
yet, go by how your shoes look and feel. Once the back of the sole is worn out
or the shoe feels uncomfortable or less supportive, it's time to take those
tootsies shopping again.