If the shoe fits… finding the right fit in a FITNESS SHOE

By admin
January 02, 2017

Man buying sneakers in supermarket

Vibrant new colors, cutting-edge designs, game-changing materials and groundbreaking technologies are common buzzwords found in the promotional and advertising messages of the ever-changing fitness shoe industry. But when you are looking to find a fitness shoe with the right fit for you, there is much more to consider than what sounds good and what meets the eye. Talk to any dedicated runner, walker or general fitness buff and they will tell you a proper fitting sports shoe can not only enhance your physical performance, but can prevent injuries as well.

Well-Being turned to Fleet Feet Sports in Ridgeland for some professional advice about how to choose the right fitness shoe for your sport or activities and most importantly…for your feet. Fleet Feet carries shoes for running, walking and cross-training (which can be used for any exercise and most casual sports or activities). We spoke to Lesley Holleman, co-owner with her husband Matthew, about the extensive process they use to help their customers find the shoe that meets their comfort, support and performance needs.

“When someone comes into Fleet Feet to be fitted for a shoe, our first question is ‘what are you going to be using these shoes for,’” notes Lesley. “About 20% of our customers just need a good pair of shoes for work or whatever else. They aren’t using them for any particular sport or activity. Second, we ask if they have had any injuries or problems with their feet, knees, legs, hips, or back. Then…we just look at their feet. They may have callusing, hotspots, bunions or other issues that they don’t realize can contribute to foot problems.”

According to Holleman, after asking a few initial questions, first and foremost they check the size and shape of the foot.

“We look at the foot 3-dimensionally – first measuring the length, then width, and then examining the shape and volume,” she continues. “Then, we look at their biomechanics, or how the joints in the foot, lower leg, and hip, move through the gait cycle. Issues like overly flexible feet, super high stiff arches, leg length discrepancies, or even bowed legs can help us determine the family of shoes we will start with.”

We asked Lesley to share some of the most common mistakes people make when they are shopping for a fitness shoe. The top three were:

  • Buying based on looks.
  • Not being measured properly. (According to Holleman 80% of new customers they see are wearing the wrong size shoe.)
  • Buying closeouts of older models or buying multiple pair in fear of the vendor changing the design. (Shoes are only manufactured for a certain shelf life.)

Running shoes - barefoot running shoes“If you buy an old model or buy extra pairs to ‘save for later,’ chances are you will be wearing a 2 – 3 year old pair of shoes. After about 6 months to a year, shoes wear out a lot faster, so the money you saved is wasted and you wind up buying a new pair sooner than you should have to,” Holleman explains.

“I like to compare shoes to tires on your car. They may not always be the prettiest, and sometimes they are tedious to spend money on. However, your safety and health depend on your foot having the right equipment, and being changed out regularly when they begin to show wear,” Holleman concludes.

Tips for Shoe-buying

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offers some wise shoe-buying recommendations to help you find a shoe that will not only be comfortable, but will reduce your risks of developing a foot problem.

  1. Because your feet may swell throughout the day (up to 8%), purchase shoes toward the end of the day to ensure maximum comfort.
  2. Feet can grow as we age, so have your feet measured every year. Make sure you stand while having your feet measured, because the full weight of your body will expand your feet.
  3. Do not buy a shoe based only on the size. The size may vary from brand to brand and style to style. It is important to try on shoes, and then to purchase the one that fits the best, regardless of the size.
  4. You should have 1/2 inch of space between your longest toe and the tip of the shoe. Make sure that this distance is measured from your longest, not your largest, toe. If you are wearing a shoe that is too long for your foot, you may develop toe pain and blisters as your foot continuously slides forward toward the front of the shoe.
  5. Walk around in the shoes on different surfaces to make sure that they are comfortable before purchasing them.
  6. If your foot is too wide for a certain shoe, a larger size may not be a better fit. Although the larger shoe may be more comfortable in the width, there may be too much room in the toe box and your foot may slide back and forth in the shoe resulting in foot and toe problems.
  7. A square or round toe box will provide more room and comfort by allowing the toes to lay flat. A pointed shoe shape may crowd the toes, causing discomfort. Purchase a shoe that conforms to the shape of your foot (i.e. curved or straight).
  8. Shop at a store that has a variety of shoe styles and prices. You do not need to buy the most expensive shoe, but you should purchase the one that fits your foot. A good shoe is a good investment.

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