Which exercise routine is your favorite? Whether you lay claim to aerobics, running, hiking, basketball or tennis, there’s one piece of workout gear you can’t live without. It’s not the heart rate monitor watch, sweat bands, water bottle, or even a supportive sports bra. It’s your shoes. Here are some tips to keep in mind for your next shoe purchase.
Don’t simply opt for whatever’s handy
An old pair of tennis shoes may be comfortably worn in, but chances are good they no longer provide the support you need. It’s also likely that the shoes are not intended for the precise exercise you have in mind.
Understand that different workouts need different shoes
The science behind quality running shoes is quite different from superior tennis or basketball shoes. For example, since running shoe-makers know you only move forward when running, there’s no lateral support built in, a feature you need when playing tennis or basketball.
Even walking shoes are different from running shoes. A runner wants more support in the forefoot while those who prefer to walk need stiffer rubber in the heel.
Then there are cross-trainers. If you enjoy a few different workouts in moderation, you might choose one pair of cross-trainers to lighten the required investment. Just remember, these shoes are a Jack of all trades, so they’re decent at providing lateral support, forefoot cushioning and a thicker rubber heel, but they’re not designed to excel above and beyond other shoes in any category.
Buy dedicated workout shoes
The shoes you exercise in shouldn’t be the ones you wear to run errands. This causes the expensive workout shoe to break down much sooner doing non-strenuous activities. Buy sneakers that look great for everyday use and save your quality workout shoes for exercising.
Replace your shoes before they start looking bad
If you wait until your shoes start falling apart, you know the support has broken down months or even years ago. Plan to replace your shoes every 300 to 500 miles. If you don’t count your miles then replace your shoes every six months to a year, depending on how often you exercise.
The sign that you’ve waited too long between replacements is a strange pain in your hips, knees and back. Don’t let it get to that point before you replace your workout shoes.
If your feet and joints hurt no matter what type of shoes you wear then consider wearing an insole. Orthotics are popular because they are highly customized, but if you don’t think you have a specific gait problem then over-the-counter generic insoles will probably do the trick.
Seek a professional opinion
Unless you’re an experienced sportsman and have found the perfect shoe, it’s not wise to just visit a shoe store, try on a few pairs, and leave with what you think is the best choice. Instead, go to an athletic shoe specialty store and sit down with an expert. They will give you a proper fitting, evaluate your foot, and take your athletic activities of choice into account when helping you find the right shoe. Be sure to ask about return policies as well. Name brand athletic shoes are quite expensive so many retailers have liberal return policies to ensure your satisfaction.