Some sports and activities require a whole bunch of gear and equipment in order to participate – football and skiing, for example. But for most active folks – the runners, joggers, and walkers; the soccer and basketball players; the gym rats – there is only one piece of equipment that really matters: their shoes.

For athletes of any type, the type of shoe you buy and wear can not only impact your performance and success; it can be the difference between footwear that can help prevent injuries and problems and those that can cause or contribute to painful and debilitating foot and ankle issues.

That is why it is so critical to pick the right athletic shoe. Doing so requires more than knowing your size or the styles you like. Here are some tips to help you buy the perfect athletic shoe that can keep you active, healthy, and trouble-free:

Match the shoe with the activity. Not all athletic shoes are created equal. By design, they are created differently for different activities. For example, runners need more flexibility and cushioning than walkers do, and running shoes are designed with that in mind. Walking shoes, on the other hand, tend to be stiffer, which is not optimal for runners. Pick the right shoe for what you do, and if you do many things, buy a different pair for each activity.

Your shoe size isn’t reliable. Your feet don’t stop changing after adolescence; they can change as you get older. That is why you should double-check and measure your feet twice a year. Also, what one athletic shoe manufacturer calls a 9 ½ may feel noticeably different than the “same” size of another brand. Rely on the actual fit of the shoe you try on, not the size listed on the box.

Shop later in the day. Not only do feet change as we get older, but they also change during the course of each day. As the day goes on, your feet swell and they also expand a bit when you walk or run. By trying on shoes later in the day, when your feet tend to be largest, you can ensure that they won’t be too small.

Bring your orthotics. If you wear orthotic inserts when you walk or run, there is no point in buying an otherwise fine fitting pair of shoes if you can’t put those inserts in them. Bring them with you when you shop and try the shoes on with the inserts

Remember the rule of thumb. There should be around 3/8-1/2 inch between the front of your big toe and the end of an athletic shoe — about the width of your thumb. You should be able to freely wiggle your toes. In the back, your heel should fit relatively tightly, and the upper part of the shoe should feel snug and secure as well.

Know when to get rid of your shoes. The average pair of running shoes should be replaced after around 350-400 miles of use. Regardless of how many miles you’ve put on your shoes, however, you should find a new pair once the back of the sole is worn out or the shoe feels uncomfortable or less supportive.

Coeur d’Alene Foot and Ankle Clinic: Your Partners For Foot Health  

Of course, wearing the right athletic shoes won’t necessarily resolve or prevent foot problems from arising. When you experience foot and ankle pain or other issues, Coeur d’Alene Foot and Ankle Clinic and Surgery Center provides exceptional care by a skilled and committed team of physicians and staff. We offer the most advanced corrective surgical procedures and specialize in the Isham minimally invasive techniques recognized by orthopedic and podiatric surgeons worldwide.

Call us today at (208) 666-0605 to schedule your appointment.