Good athletic footwear may be the most important piece of equipment an exerciser can buy. Poorly fitting or inappropriate shoes lead to discomfort, potential injury and inevitably, the discontinuation of participation in an exercise program. It’s important to have shoes designed to protect the foot and maximize performance during sports activities.
The differences between various types of athletic footwear lie in design and materials which affect cushioning, fit, weight and durability. Some shoes offer more cushioning than others, some offer more stability, and others are designed to be fashionable.
In general, there are two classes of athletic footwear. One type is designed for activities emphasizing forward motion such as running and walking. The second is designed for activities which require more lateral and stop-and-go movement such as tennis, basketball and aerobic dance.
Because there are so many companies who manufacture athletic shoes (and compete for your fitness dollar) choosing which shoes to buy can be overwhelming. The companies will tell you it’s important to buy a separate pair of shoes for each activity you enjoy. Thats not necessarily true. The only exception to this is running. Because running is a high impact sport–usually done on pavement–its worth investing in a good pair of running shoes. Beyond that, a good pair of cross training shoes will be suitable for most other activities.
To be sure you buy athletic shoes best suited to your needs, purchase them at a store that can provide a wide range of styles and brands. Ask the clerk for recommendations. Then try on several brands to find the best fit. Don’t be shy about wearing them around the store or going through a variety of the movements in which you’ll wear the shoe. Twenty minutes is the minimum in-store time you should spend on a good pair of shoes. It’s worth the greater enjoyability and better adherence to exercise that will follow the purchase.