Having trouble finding the right fit for athletic shoes? Maybe it’s because you don’t know these five crucial tips! Find out how to shop smarter inside.
The right athletic shoes aren’t simply a fashion statement or a way to show off a name brand. They’re one of the most essential pieces of apparel you can wear.
Shoes should help support your feet and ankles. The side effect of this is that they cushion your entire spine and keep your body in alignment. When you wear “cute” shoes with a poor design, you might look good, but your body will feel the damage over time.
With the right athletic shoes, your feet stay healthy, and your body’s overall wellness improves. You’re less likely to trip or slip, and the jarring of the pavement when you walk or run has less impact.
So how do you find the magical athletic shoe that fits like Cinderella’s slipper, looks attractive, and offers your foot proper support?
Read on to find out!
Table of Contents
1. Go to the Specialty Stores
You wouldn’t buy a designer car at a budget car lot and expect it to last. Nor should you get your shoes at a discount department store and expect them to support your feet the way they should.
Footwear is supposed to protect your feet and spine. Specialty shoes go beyond the basics to do things like enhance your performance in a sporting event.
Specialty Shoe Stores Explained
Specialty shoe stores sell a variety of shoes. More importantly, they help you find the shoe you need. The employees aren’t always experts, but they do have training in custom fitting you.
When you visit a professional shoe store, the employees will gather some information about you. They’ll measure your actual shoe size and ask you questions regarding your level and style of activity.
Whoever is helping you will watch your gait to see if your foot tends to roll outward or inward when you walk. They’ll check your arches and review your past history for injuries.
After all their analysis, they’ll use the information to develop some suggestions for you. You’ll learn more about your feet and how they affect your body than you ever realized was possible!
2. Shop After a Workout
You probably don’t want to hit the shoe stores when you’re sweaty and exhausted, but that’s precisely the best time to do it.
After a workout, your feet may swell and be the largest they’re likely to be. If you buy a shoe that “fits” you at your standard size, they’re going to be tight and uncomfortable when you’re exercising.
All the rules about wiggling your toes and keeping room between your big toe and the shoe are useless when your feet change size. Since you’re going to be wearing these when you’re active, it makes sense to try them on while your feet are in their “heavily used” state.
Some athletes use recovery footwear to soothe their feet after a major workout. These shoes let your feet breathe after you’ve been pushing them hard.
But if you find athletic shoes that don’t bind your feet up during the activity in the first place, recovery shoes aren’t necessary.
3. Avoid Multipurpose Shoe-Shopping
A lot of people have a pair of comfy sneakers that they wear everywhere. Your athletic shoes shouldn’t do double-duty, even between sports.
Go ahead and load up on your shoes, but make sure that each pair is for its own purpose.
Choose what you need out of these athletic categories:
- Running shoes are for training and walking
- Hiking shoes have extra ankle support and traction
- Court shoes are for anyone who spends a lot of time on the tennis or basketball court. These allow you to move flexibly and put up with heavy wear and tear
- Field shoes typically have cleats or spikes on them for better traction
- Outdoor sports shoes are suitable for less physically intense activities, such as boating or fishing
There are other specialty shoes you can get if you engage in activities that require a unique style. Dancing and golf, for example, have specific designs. Let’s say that cleats for a soccer game are not going to be comfortable enough to put them on and go to work.
4. Take Your Time Trying Them On
Shoe shopping is not something you should do when you’re in a rush. Besides trying on multiple pairs until you find the ones you like, you need to make sure they fit right.
Here are some expert tips to use when you’re shopping for athletic shoes:
- Bring or wear the same socks you use when you play the sport you’re getting the shoes for.
- Go ahead and lace the shoes up correctly. This takes a few extra seconds, but it gives you a realistic idea of how the shoe will feel.
- Wiggle your toes once the shoes are on. The sweet spot is to have a thumbnail width between your longest toe and the tip of the shoe.
Any bigger than that, and they’ll slide on and off. If it’s smaller, they’ll be too tight and constricting.
- Walk/run as much as you need until you decide if the shoes fit right and are comfy. (If they’re not comfortable in the store, they’re not going to feel good when you “break them in.”)
If the heel slides on and off when you walk or if you don’t feel stable because there’s not enough traction, keep on shopping.
5. Know Your Aches and Pains
A lot of your daily discomfort is because your feet aren’t getting the correct support.
Extra shoe accessories, like clear gel or air inserts, give you the shock absorption your spine needs to prevent unnecessary impact. They’re perfect for people who have a lot of heel pain.
But if you tend to tilt your ankles often, you should opt for shoes with more traction and avoid gel soles.
These little “ache” problems are also solved by shopping at a specialty shoe store. The professionals who work there can give you tips on the best inserts, padding, and gels to prevent and reduce your discomfort.
You don’t have to buy from these stores, but you can take the information they give you and use it while you shop for shoes for the rest of your life.
The right athletic shoes do more than enhance your performance. They protect your feet and keep your body safe from heavy jarring and impact.
When you find the shoe that fits you perfectly and has the design you need, it’ll be like walking on air. Your performance, your spine, and your overall health will thank you!
Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with The Proper Raleigh to help them with their online marketing.