"Isn’t one pair of sneakers enough?”
That’s a common question, particularly from the “weekend warrior” crowd (who try to pack in a full day of sports during gaps in their work schedule), as well as recreational athletes looking to save a few bucks on gear.
Unfortunately, the answer isn’t always “yes.” What you need from your everyday shoes isn’t necessary the same as what you need from an athletic shoe, and even different sports put different kinds of stresses on your feet and ankles that may necessitate a different kind of shoe.
While some amount of overlap may be possible, choosing the right athletic shoe for the right activity not only can improve your performance, but also can greatly reduce your risk of a sports injury.
Some basic guidelines:
- Try a store that specializes in athletic shoes and gear, rather than a general shoe store or department store. It might cost a bit extra, but the people there are specially trained to help you find and fit the best shoe for your foot type and sport.
- To find the right fit, shop toward the end of the day or after a workout, and wear the same style of socks you’d be wearing when you run or play. Your feet will be at their largest at this time, so you can be sure the fit will still be good even when you start to swell.
- Shoes should be comfortable right away—don’t convince yourself that an uncomfortable shoe will feel fine once you “break it in.” If it doesn’t fit right away, it doesn’t fit, period.
- The shoe should provide a nice, firm (but not too tight) grip on the heel. You don’t want it to slide around while you move.
If you participate in a particular sport regularly—at least 2 or 3 times a week during the season, or routinely throughout the year—you really should choose a sport-specific shoe to offer you maximum support and protection. For example, running shoes should be light, breathable, flexible, and provide plenty of cushioning, traction, and stability in the heel, while shoes for court sports (tennis, basketball, volleyball, etc.) that involve more lateral motion should have a tougher sole and provide more stability for the ankle. Again, a specialty shoe store will be able to point you in the right direction.
Sometimes, underlying problems with the structure of your feet may contribute to increased likelihood of injury. Flat feet, overpronation, bunions, gait abnormalities, and other problems can influence the way you stride and land. In such cases, often the best course of action is to set an appointment with Dr. McSpadden so you can be fitted with a good pair of prefabricated inserts or custom orthotics for your athletic shoes to prevent injury and stress on your feet, ankles, legs, hips and back.
To schedule an appointment at North Austin Foot & Ankle Institute, please fill out our contact form online, or give us a call at 512-593-2949.