Selecting running shoes and other athletic footwear

Sport shoes are meant to maximize performance and prevent injury. It may take some trial and error to find just the right shoe to match the needs of your foot to the demands of your chosen sport or activity.

Focus on your specific sport. Different sports and activities require different shoes. Boosting your cardio at the gym? You'll need shoes that breathe, but that also provide support and cushioning. Hooping it up? You'll want thick, stiff soles to cushion your feet as you land after a leap or jump, and high tops to support your ankles through all the quick direction changes on the court. Tennis and other court sports also call for flexible soles to keep up with quick switches and changes in direction.

Go directly to the source. The most efficient path to the perfect shoe is to visit a reputable, reliable athletic shoe store and ask for guidance. A clued-up shoe clerk can help you to find more than just the right shoe in the right size. You could also get the goods on your gait, your arch, how to best lace your new shoes, whether you need insoles, and other bits of sport shoe wisdom. Check online reviews of local stores to find out which have the most knowledgeable and helpful staff.

Know when to go. Do your shoe-shopping after a workout - or toward the end of the day - for the most accurate fit. That's when your feet will be at their largest. And be sure to bring along any orthotics or inserts that you use so you can choose shoes with ample space.

Know when to go back. Once you've been using your new sport shoes, check the soles for wear. Most running shoes can trot a good 560 to 880 kilometres (350 to 550 miles) before retirement. But no matter what your mileage, shoes lose stability and shock absorption over time. Without the proper shock absorption, a runner is at risk of shin splints and knee pain.

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