How to buy athletic shoes
An athletic shoes buying guide
Athletic shoes are a must for almost any type of physical exercise routine. With so many types of athletic shoes on the market today, knowing what you will be using them for will help you determine how to buy athletic shoes that are designed for your specific fitness needs.
>> How will you use your athletic shoes?
When you shop athletic shoes, keep in mind that shoes suited to different sports and activities can have wildly different features. Walking shoes, for example, are far stiffer than running shoes, which have to be more flexible and cushioned to protect your knees and joints from impact. Track shoes, along with other types of cleats for team sports, have small protrusions on the underside to maximize your grip on your running surface. Many sports also have specifically customized shoes, with features such as higher tops on basketball shoes to provide more ankle support for abrupt stops and direction changes. Keep in mind your intended activity when deciding how to buy athletic shoes, as these specific features are designed to benefit your sport or workout regimen.
For those who are not necessarily tied to a single sport, cross-training shoes are well-suited for versatility over different activities. Although they are generally not used for competition, and are heavier and stiffer than most running shoes, cross trainers can hold their own in most training scenarios, and are ideal for people who workout using drills from different sports.
>> Determine your walking or running style
If walking or running is your intended activity, a major consideration when determining how to buy athletic shoes is your gait. Top athletic shoes are designed to compensate for your style of walking or running, to give you the best cushioning and stability possible. Overpronation, in which the foot rolls inward while walking, is a common type of gait. Overpronators generally have medium or, in more severe cases, flat arches, and shoes with motion control and stabilizing features are recommended. On the other hand, those prone to supination, in which the foot rolls outward, are more suited to shoes with greater cushioning and higher arch support. These are important features that can both improve the lifespan of your shoes and prevent chronic foot pain.
Runners should also keep in mind their intended running surface, as trail shoes differ greatly from those suited to a track, since off-road conditions necessitate more durable athletic shoes with thicker soles.
>> Consider your needs for your sport
Sports shoes are generally quite a different entity than those for walking and running, as a wider variety of motions need to be accounted for. Most sports have a type of athletic shoe specifically suited to the actions required during the game, and sometimes even regulations requiring its use during competition, for safety, sportsmanship or simply efficacy.
The two main factors, not to the exclusion of others, generally catered to by different types of athletic shoes are level of support and type of surface being played on. Support may seem like an ideal feature for every activity, however sports like wrestling require the least padding possible, so that competitors can feel the floor for enhanced stability. On the other hand, basketball shoes require more padding, to protect joints from the impact from constant running and jumping.
As for surfaces, traction is the main consideration, ranging from cleats for grass or turf, to the rubber soles of skate shoes. Keeping these variations in mind will help you in determining how to buy athletic shoes that will perform well at game time.
>> Choosing the proper build for your shoes
Even after deciding which type of running or sports shoe will fit your intended activities, many athletic shoe brands will still offer some choice in the build of your shoe. Not only is this an important factor in choosing the best athletic shoes for comfort, but maladies such as athlete's foot and shin splints can usually be avoided by a shoe with the proper fit and breathability.
Women and men's shoes are split into two main sections: the sole, or the bottom of the shoe, and the upper, which is the body of the shoe. The outsole, or bottom layer, can be segmented to provide flexibility, as in running shoes, and patterned for traction with most surfaces. The midsole provides most of the cushioning, and can have gel or air inserts or springs to aid this purpose. Proper arch support, especially for supinators, is provided by the insole, which can often be removed for cleaning and maintenance. As for the upper, porous synthetic materials are ideal for airing out your feet if you're sweating and will help you avoid foot fungi, though more insulated materials are better suited for colder weather. Knowing which builds suit your feet will help you decide how to buy athletic shoes that are comfortable and safe, so that your feet will remain pain-free and healthy during your fitness regimen.
>> Selecting features for your athletic shoes
As both men and women's shoes are often used to make a fashion statement, there are a wide variety of stylish athletic shoes available today, ideal for complementing the rest of your workout apparel. Many designer athletic shoes can even coordinate with workplace attire, to avoid having to carry around an extra pair of shoes. Reflectors are also an important available safety feature, especially for people running late at night on roads or bike paths. After deciding on your specific type of athletic shoe, these features can help you narrow down your selection and determine how to buy athletic shoes that are a perfect fit for you.