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Published on June 25, 2014

Shoe Shopping: Choosing the Right Gear for Your Sport

Soccer Cleats

Field sports require cleats, studs or spikes
to provide athletes with improved traction.

While exercise is essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, it also increases our chances of being injured. There’s one piece of equipment that is invaluable in helping athletes avoid injuries and common foot and ankle problems. And it’s right there on your feet.

That’s right, shoes.

There are two major reasons why you should pay careful attention to the gear on your feet when exercising or playing various sports—other than being fashionable, of course. For one, wearing the right shoe for your sport can simply improve your game and enhance your performance. Second, the right shoe can also help you prevent common injuries, from ankle fractures to bunions and corns.

And if your pair of basketball shoes dates back to a time that you can’t even remember—chances are it’s time for a new pair. Why? Because when the cushion support begins to deteriorate as your shoes wear out, which prevents them from providing any significant protection to your feet and ankles. As a result, shoes should be replaced after 300-500 miles of running or 300 hours of aerobic activity. That means if you run 20 miles a week, you should be replacing your shoes every five or six months.

When choosing the right shoe, it’s important that you select the one appropriate for the sport you participate in the most. Additionally, it’s best to try on a new pair of shoes in the afternoon or evening, when your feet are at their largest.

If you’re ready to purchase a new pair of kicks, here’s a quick guide to help you choose the right shoes for your sport:

Basketball Shoes

Court shoes help the body make quick, agile movements and prevent injuries such as ankle sprains, stress fractures and tendinitis. The most important aspect of a basketball shoe is the sole. Look for a pair that has a thick, stiff sole that will provide support when running and jumping. Since you’ll be making sudden side-to-side movements during this athletic activity, you also want to make sure you have plenty of ankle support as well.

Soccer Cleats

Field sports require cleats, studs or spikes to provide athletes with appropriate traction when on either turf or a grass field and help to prevent injuries such as ankle sprains, turf toe and ingrown toenails. When choosing a soccer shoe, the type of stud you choose will depend on the type of ground you’ll be playing on (soft, hard or firm). Your cleat should also not have any more than half an inch of space between the big toe and the end of the shoe.

Football Cleats

A good football cleat will have plenty of high ankle support, which is important due to the frequent sideways movement made during games. You’ll also want a pair that has proper traction on grass fields in wet and dry conditions to prevent injuries such as turf toe and Achilles tendinitis.

Running Shoes
Running Shoes

If you run 20 miles a week, you should be
replacing your shoes every six months.

The right running or jogging shoe should provide a ton of shock absorption to help runners prevent common foot injuries, such as shin splints, plantar fasciitis and Morton’s neuroma. When selecting a running shoe, you should look for one that matches your foot’s arch type (high, medium or low) and that has good heel control.

Aerobic Shoes

To prevent foot fatigue, look for shoes that are lightweight and have additional shock absorption in the sole beneath the ball of the foot. If possible, try to work out on a carpet or mat.

Cross Trainers

These are perfect for those who engage in a variety of athletic activities since they combine features of various types of shoes. Look for ones that are flexible in the forefoot, which helps running and have good ankle support, which helps supports quick movement.

For more information on how to avoid common foot and ankle injuries, please visit our Foot & Ankle Pain resource page.

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