Buying Athletic Shoes

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                       Some of us see a new trail and we'll give everyone in the                                                                         car whiplash pulling over.

Some of us just like to walk, or climb or play sports. Whatever your speed, NEVER cheat on the shoes. Go straight to the experts at a running, hiking or specific sports, specialty store. Now if you spend less than 5 hours a week in this type of foot-ware go to Walmart. If you're serious about your recreational activity, and your health go to a specialty store. Plan on spending some time there because the person who fits your shoes should ask you lots of questions, do some tests, and have several shoe options for you to try out. If they don't, leave! Wash your feet wear a clean pair of socks bring a smoothie or a latte and enjoy the process.

Image DetailRemember  there is no "BEST" shoe, there is only the best shoe for you. Some types of running shoes are activity-specific, however, and one type of running shoe may not be the best choice for a certain activity, such as cross training. Runners generally run straight without moving side to side suddenly, as a sport-specific athlete might do. The best running shoes, therefore, do not necessarily need features that support side to side motions. The foot moves in a certain way when running forward, and a good running shoe will support this motion. The sole of a good pair of running shoes will flex with the foot, and it will provide cushion in the heel and in the ball of the foot. Good running shoes are also very lightweight to prevent the legs and feet from tiring too quickly. It's important to know what your foot is doing throughout your range of movement and not just how long and wide your foot is. It is also important to remember, that even though you may not be a runner you spend a large portion of your life on your feet. Your feet are the base of operation for the rest of your body. If your feet aren't happy the rest of your body can't be. So where you shop is important. After basic measurements, next they should look at the shape of your arch to determine what type of foot you have. Determining your foot type is the key to making sure you get the right shoes. Your foot should be measured in the standing position, only. If they measure your foot siting, put your shoe back on and, leave! Your running/activity shoes are usually fit 1/2 to a full size bigger than your regular shoe size because your feet will swell when you run and you need plenty of room in the toe box. If your toes are crammed in the front of the shoe, you could develop bruised toe or black and crushed toenails. In the shoe fitting assessment they may also look at the wear on the bottom of your shoes to get some more insight on your foot plant. They should also do a running / walking analysis for you. The technician will watch you run / walk in the old shoes, and then observe your balance and movement, in the new choices of shoe.

By observation (someday by camera) they'll determine whether you're over-pronating (your foot rolls inward) or supinating (your foot rolls outward) when your foot strikes the ground. They should be asking you questions about what type of walking / running you do, how often, where you typically run / walk, if you're a competitive racer, and what type of surfaces you run on. After you're fitted with your new shoes, DON'T take them home and leave them unused for any length of time. Test your new shoes by running / walking in them for a week. If you quickly develop blisters or foot pain, they may not be the right shoes for you. All specialty running stores have liberal exchange policies and allow you to return running shoes even if you've been running in them for a week or more. Take them back and work with your technician to exchange them for another pair of better fitting shoes that will solve you issues. If you use orthotics or custom-fit insoles, bring them with you to try on your running shoes. You need running shoes that are roomy enough to accommodate your insoles. Even the socks are important. That bag of 6-pack socks that you normally grab at Walmart may not be the best for your exercising feet. Look for a soc that say "fast dry" or " moisture wicking" on the bag. These are going to help you. They're going to help draw that moisture out from the actual foot because the softer your foot gets from moisture, the more likely for you to get blisters. Do you run on your toes? Do you run heel to toe? Do you run flat-footed? The way your foot makes contact with the ground is very important. If your foot does not properly control your landing, then some corrections need to be made. A foot-strike characterizes the movement of the foot as it goes through the three phases of stance: impact, support and propulsion.

Flat Foot 
Flat feet have a low arch and leave a nearly complete imprint. There is little inward curve where the arch should be. This usually indicated an overpronating foot that strikes on the outside of the heel and rolls excessively inward. Runners with flat feet should select shoes in the overpronating to very overpronating categories.

Normal Foot
This is the most common foot type. A normal arch leaves an imprint that has a flare but shows the forefoot and heel connected by a wide band. Runners with a normal arch should select shoes in the neutral to overpronating categories.

High Arch
High arched feet leave an imprint showing a narrow band connecting the forefoot and heel (or none at all). A curved, high-arched foot is generally termed a supinating or underpronating foot. Runners with high-arched feet should select shoes in the under pronating to neutral categories.

Now your foot does swell up when you're doing a lot of walking and standing, or running. So you want to get a shoe that's going to fit when your foot is swollen. A stability shoe will have dark grey material on the instep of the shoe which helps with a lower arched person whose feet tend to roll inward. A neutral shoe is geared toward more cushioning. Here's some fitting tip's,
  • Aim for fitting later in the day, after your feet have swelled.
  • Stand while your foot size is measured.
  • Fit with the socks you will run in.
  • Try on both shoes. Your right and left feet may be different sizes.
  • Allow about one-fourth inch of space between the end of the longest toe and the front of the shoe. This accommodates swelling during running.
  • Check heel fit. It should be snug and not slide or rub against the heel counter that wraps the base of the heel.
  • Be sure all seams feel smooth on your feet, and no areas are glued improperly.
If at any time during the fitting process you don't feel comfortable either with the level of expertise in your sales person or the fitting results be nice and leave. Get a second opinion they're your feet, and you're not buying a $10.00 pair of flip-flops. A good read on the subject is "Biomechanics of Sport Shoes", by Dr. Benno Nigg'.s It is enlightening and definitely is a departure from general thinking . As far as shoe fitting and posture compensation is concerned. Dr.Nigg is one of the top biomechanic researchers in the field sport shoes, foot inserts and foot orthotics in the world. Dr. Nigg claims that foot orthotics, which are devices designed to align misaligned feet, are actually not aligning the skeleton at all. In fact, Dr.Nigg's book reveals many disturbing facts about orthotics, shoes and inserts, claiming there is weak evidence that orthotics lessen injury. He says, changes in skeletal alignment due to inserts are inconsistent and minor. Dr. Nigg goes on to warn that one of the dangers of the consistent use of orthotics is that they reduce functional demand on muscles may be associated with the deterioration of the muscles strength and function. So even though a foot orthotic often helps in the short term, over the long term Dr.Nigg warns their use may cause problems. Despite Dr. Nigg debunking inserts and orthotics, you may think he must be a proponent of barefoot running.  Not so. Dr. Nigg does not believe there is any evidence currently that barefoot runners sustain fewer injuries than runners in shoes. Something to keep in mind. So proper fit should be the highest priority over price, brand and appearance, to maximize performance and minimize potential injuries. Walking or running, hiking, whatever it's your choice your pace. Just do it in a good pair of custom fit shoes, and save yourself some nagging injuries down the road. Good Luck...

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