On the hunt for the perfect athletic shoe? There are a lot of great choices out there – you just need to know what features to look for and where to find them.
Michelle Sine, a physical therapist who specializes in the foot and ankle at Tidelands Health Rehabilitation Services at The Market Common, says avid runners and walkers are right to seek out good shoes, but they shouldn’t overly focus on the brand, cost or look of the shoes.
Instead, she says the primary goal is to make sure the shoes are right for your particular feet. Here are her five tips to help guide your search:
1. Get an assessment of your feet
How your feet are structured should be the determining factor in the type of shoe you choose. For instance, a person with a really high arch will require a shoe with cushioning to reduce force of impact, while someone with a very flat foot will need a shoe with more stability and motion control.
“A physical therapist who is familiar with running mechanics can evaluate your arch height and the alignment of your heel to your calf to make recommendations for a particular shoe type,” Sine says.
2. Visit a specialty store
According to Sine, there are a lot of good brands, so focusing on finding a style of shoe that fits your category of foot is more important than brand loyalty. She says specialty running stores tend to have a wide selection of quality shoes so you can try on different options for your foot category.
3. Consider it an investment
Spending $100-$150 on a pair of shoes can cause many people to think twice, but Sine says it can save money in the long run (no pun intended).
“Less expensive shoes can seem like a good deal initially, but tend to be less durable and need to be replaced more often compared to their high-quality counterparts,” she says. “Or, that cheap pair of shoes could end up costing you a visit to see me because you injured yourself.”
4. Add inserts, if needed
If you can’t afford expensive shoes, consider buying a less expensive, neutral shoe — then add a custom insert. Just be aware that you may need specialized advice on selecting an insert that will benefit your particular feet. If you’ve already invested in a higher-quality running shoe and you don’t have a particular foot abnormality, you probably won’t need an insert, Sine says.
5. Replace the shoes when it's time
If you’re serious walker or runner, you’ll have to replace your shoes more frequently than the average person. Traditional athletic shoes should last 400-500 miles, and lightweight versions will last about 250-400 miles. If you regularly track your miles when training, you’ll be able to keep an eye on that. Otherwise, look for other indicators, such as aching knees after a run, shoes that lean too far outward or inward when placed flat on the ground and rubber worn off the bottom of the shoe.
To extend the life of your athletic shoes, Sine recommends having a separate pair of shoes for work or leisure.