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I love fitness shoes. I love the way they look. I love the way they feel. I even love the way they smell. I wasn’t always this way. When I was a kid, “tennis” shoes were just becoming popular, and everyone owned one generic pair that were used for all sports and activities. Beginning in junior high, each year, for P.E. class, we were required to wear dorky blue jumpsuit uniforms with dorky white shoes that looked like this:
We didn’t dare wear them outside P.E. class because if they got dirty, we got points taken off our grade. And they were so dorky looking that nobody wanted to wear them outside anyway.
Those days are long gone. Today, athletic footwear companies rake in about $16 billion per year. One reason for this mind-boggling figure is that any kind of exercise shoe nowadays is not cheap. So, it’s best to know exactly what you need when selecting a shoe that will work for you.
According to a study published in the 2018 Journal of Foot and Ankle Research, 63-72% of people are walking around in the wrong footwear. Yikes!
If you run, or even walk fast, and you’ve ever experienced shin splints you know the importance of good running/walking shoes. Here’s a few tips that might help you as you select new workout shoes.
Running involves repetitive forward movements, so a good running shoe should be flexible, lightweight and have some sort of “cush” to absorb impact. Hiking shoes, in contrast are heavier and have deeper tread patterns with high upper tops to provide stability and support your ankles. Court shoes (volleyball, basketball, etc.) should support movement in all directions and have extra cushioning for jumping. But, depending on your specific exercise regime and how often you do it, cross trainers or minimalist shoes (like my Vibram 5-Fingers) are designed to work for a variety of athletic endeavors and may work just fine.
Regardless of which type of activity specific shoe that you purchase, if it doesn’t fit properly it’s not going to work for you. Because of this, most sports gurus suggest that you shop in stores that specialize in your sport, and ask for help from a trained employee.
Most people’s feet tend to swell at the end of the day. They may ache and you may feel like Big Foot, but this is the best time to buy athletic shoes. And don’t worry about the size. You may think you have a petite size 6 feet, but for your type of exercise you may be better off with a 7.
When you are buying, try on both shoes and make sure that you are wearing the socks that you will have on while exercising. The shoe should fit snugly on your heel so that there is no slippage and there should be at least a half-inch space between your longest toe and the tip of the shoe. You should also be able to easily wiggle your toes while you have the shoes on.
Don’t even consider buying a “not quite right” pair of shoes, thinking that you will eventually break them in. You can’t.
Both Capt’n Clean and I get full use of our athletic shoes. If you have a pair of shoes that you really love, just know, that like everything else, they won’t last forever. Check closely for cracks and tears, especially on the soles of the shoes. If they start to lose that cushiony feeling, it may be time to trade in. But sometimes, your dear shoe friends may look and feel fine, so, just like the tires on your car, you might want to judge when it’s time to replace them by how many miles they have traveled. Running and walking shoes are good for about 300-500 miles. Court shoes will last for about 45-50 hours of play. For aerobic dance, buy a new pair of shoes every 6 months.
The grocery store, the movies or just knocking around town is not good for athletic shoes. They are not meant for that purpose and will wear out sooner.
I guess that you have probably guessed that, unless you are a swimmer, or are in a yoga class, your shoes are your most important pieces of workout gear. Our feet are our foundations and if something is not right with them, it will impact your whole body and exercise performance.
So Wimpy Girl, when it comes to buying athletic shoes, it’s your Cinderella moment. Do some research. Ask professionals for help. Take your time. Milk it for all it’s worth as you find the perfect shoe that is a perfect fit. After all, we all want to have happy feet!
Friends follow and forward Wimpy Girl.. (Hint, hint)
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