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5 Biggest Mistakes When Choosing Workout Shoes

Why you shouldn't reach for those comfy old sneakers after all.

3. Loving Them Too Much

"Your workout shoes should be your workout shoes and not your running-around-town shoes," Rogers says. "You’ll break down a pair of shoes standing in them or wearing them to the mall and running errands much faster than when you’re running or exercising."

So buy yourself a pair of casual tennies for running around town, and stow your good workout shoes in the closet as soon as you get home from your run or your tennis game.

4. Loving Them Too Long

Another big mistake many people make with athletic shoes is not replacing them often enough.

"They think they should replace their workout shoes when they start looking bad," Rogers says. "But shoes start to break down while they’re still looking good. The support -- the reason you buy the shoe in the first place -- is gone, and you’ll start feeling strange aches and pains in your knees, hip, and back."

Most experts recommend that runners replace their shoes every 300 to 500 miles. If you don’t run enough to have a mile count, or running’s not your sport, you should replace your athletic shoes at least once a year.

"If you’re exercising on a casual basis, you can make your shoes last a year," Stone says. "But if you’re working out every day, 6 months is pretty much your limit."

You should also have your shoe size rechecked every year, Cheung says. "Foot size doesn’t stay the same; our feet tend to grow bigger as we age."

5. Doing It Yourself

Unless you’ve been playing your sport for a long time and have learned exactly what shoe is right for you, it’s a bad idea to just walk into a sporting goods store, try on a few pairs of shoes, and walk out with what you think is best.

Instead, go to an athletic shoe specialty store to get an expert insight on the right shoe and the best fit.

"The staff there will do a real fitting, evaluate your foot, and take a history of your athletic activities and what shoes may have worked for you before," Puleo says. "They’ll watch you walk or run on a treadmill or outside."

They’ll take three measurements -- not just one -- on the metal plate known as a Brannock Device that we’ve all seen in shoe stores.

"You need to know not just length but also width and arch length," Puleo says. "All three of those numbers together determine what size you should wear. And each shoe can be cut a little differently -- a 10 and a half isn’t a universal 10 and a half in all shoes -- so they’ll start with that number and work from there."

A good athletic shoe specialty store will also have a liberal return policy -- so ask. Some may permit you to return shoes if you’ve only worn them indoors, but not outdoors.

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Reviewed on November 22, 2012

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