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5 Biggest Mistakes When Choosing Workout Shoes

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

4. Loving Them Too Long continued...

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."

Do you need orthotics -- the specialized, custom-built inserts designed for people with specific gait problems? For most people, the answer is probably no, Puleo says.

"There are certain foot types and injuries that can be corrected with orthotics. But my opinion is they’re dramatically overprescribed. They work well for some patients, but I’ve been wearing the same brand of over-the-counter generic insoles for years, and they’ve worked great as well and are much cheaper," Puleo says.

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.

The New Jersey running store Puleo founded allowed customers to return a shoe at any time for any reason. "You don’t like ‘em, you bring ‘em back," he says. "It was on me to make sure you were satisfied before you left. We had a very low rate of return because we spent so much time with every customer; we knew they’d be happy with them. You should never be stuck with a shoe that doesn’t work for you."

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Reviewed on November 22, 2012

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