Who’s ready for spring sneaker shopping? I know I am…But standing in front of the shoe wall at your local sporting goods store can be very overwhelming. Is the $100 shoe really that different from the $60 shoe? Would a running shoe work for a walker? What about a cross-trainer? The single most important piece of equipment to virtually any kind of exercise program (running, aerobics, hiking, tennis, basketball) is the right pair of shoes. Go where serious runners and athletes shop. Salespeople at these stores are trained to observe your gait and recommend the best pair for your stride and foot shape, plus they’re familiar with the unseen features of each shoe. Here are some basic tips and features:
Heels. Walkers typically strike the ground heel first, so walking shoe heels should be no more than an inch higher than the front sole. Now, most running shoes have flared soles for stability. And a cross trainer needs a firm heel, for frontal and lateral movement.
Flexibility. Before you try a shoe on, bend it and twist it. Walking shoes need to be flexible enough to roll through each step and bend at the ball of your foot without giving you a fight. Cross trainers need to be firm for good support, depending on the sport. Running sneakers should have ample and proper flexibility for your running stride.
Lightweight. Good all-around workout shoes shouldn’t feel like bricks. You’re looking for spring in your step, not cement blocks on your toes.
A reasonable price. Shop around once you know what brand/style is right for you, get a feel for fair prices, then look for good sales and closeouts. A good rule of thumb: Less than $50 typically won’t buy the comfort features you want, but at more than $120, you’re paying for style.
Love them, but not too much. Your workout shoes should be your workout shoes and not your running-around-town shoes. You’ll break down a pair of shoes standing in them or wearing them to the mall and running errands much faster than when you’re running or exercising. Another big mistake many people make when buying athletic shoes is not replacing them often enough. Don’t replace workout shoes when they start looking bad, because shoes start to break down while they still look good. When the support (the reason you buy the shoe in the first place) is gone, you may start feeling strange aches and pains in your knees, hip, and back. Most experts recommend that runners replace their shoes every 300 to 500 miles. If you don’t run enough to have a mile count, or running’s not your sport, you should replace your athletic shoes at least once a year.