What Your Feet Are Looking For In An Athletic Shoe

If your feet could talk, what would they tell you about the shoes you wear? Given that they have to carry around your whole body and occasionally deal with the pain of poorly fitting shoes, it seems your feet ought to have some say when it comes to your choice of footwear – especially athletic shoes. After all, if you are going to be crazy enough to make them walk five miles, shouldn’t your feet have the opportunity to provide input as to what sheathes and supports them for those miles? Well, if your feet could talk, here’s what they would be telling you.

Running sneakers athletic shoes
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image courtesy of robertoberlim

Comfort over Color, Every Time

Today’s athletic shoes are a far cry from the ugly codgers of yesteryear. With their bright markings and fluorescent laces, even walking shoes are making fashion statements these days. As easy as it is to fall in love with the look of a particular shoe, your foot’s comfort is far more important than the colors those shoes boast. Don’t fall into the trap of sacrificing comfort and support for the look of that snazzy pair of shoes that caught your eye.

No Multi-Tasking

If you are serious about athletics, don’t make your footwear multi-task. There is a reason why manufacturers produce walking shoes and running shoes, and it isn’t just about marketing. Walking is generally easy on your feet than running. Running is higher impact, and therefore requires more padding. Running shoes also are usually lighter and have more stability factors built in than shoes designed for walking. Because walking shoes are not designed to handle the impact of running, it is never a good idea to do serious running in a pair of walking shoes. The bottom line? Do your foot a favor and choose athletic shoes that fit your activity.


Get a Grip

It is important to ensure that a shoe properly grip your heel to achieve the best fit. While you don’t want a shoe that is too tight, having a heel that slips up and down not only produces blisters and other skin discomforts but also neglects to provide the stability needed by your ankle and the base of your shoe. The toe box is also an important consideration. Too much space is unnecessary, but a tight toe box can be disastrous to your foot’s health. This is another reason why it is important to try a new pair of shoes on both feet as most people have one foot that is bigger than the other. If you try on a shoe only on your smaller foot, your larger foot may suffer the consequences. As a rule of thumb, you should allow 3/8” to ½” of space between your toe and the tip of the shoe.

Feet in their natural state.
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image courtesy of spookman01

Don’t Forget the Arch

While the McDonald’s arches are pretty standard around the world, the arches of one’s feet vary from individual to individual. A flat-footed person will suffer in a shoe with a high arch while someone with a naturally high arch will do their feet a disservice if he fails to adequately support that extra arch height.


Listen to Your Feet

Don’t forget to stay in tune with your feet when choosing athletic shoes. Like a griping spouse, they will make your life miserable if you choose to ignore them. Shoes fit differently, so the fact that your last pair of sneakers was a size 8 doesn’t necessarily mean that a size 8 will be the perfect fit in today’s shoe. Be aware of the needs of your individual feet, shop accordingly, and avoid that dreaded love/hate relationship with a pair of shoes that you love to admire but hate to wear.

Meg Jones works with a company that provides althetic shoes for all sports, Power Footwear.


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