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How to Purchase the Right Athletic Shoes

If you’re in the market for a new pair of athletic shoes, you may have no clue where to go or even what to look for. There are so many places to shop and shoes to choose from, it’s no wonder shoe shopping has become such a chore. Here’s what you need to know before you set off on your shoe shopping expedition.

Athletic shoes usually consist of 3 categories: running shoes, cross-training shoes and walking shoes. Each shoe is designed specifically to help athletes avoid injury and discomfort. Remember that good shoes are ones that fit well, and not necessarily the most expensive. Bring an older pair of sneakers with you so that the fitter can determine your wear patterns.

Begin shopping at a specialty store for runners. These shops tend to be staffed by fellow athletes who are more knowledgeable about the various types of shoes and individual considerations in deciding which shoe to purchase. Plan on spending at least 30 minutes at the store to ensure time for a good fitting. Arch, Pronation and foot strike are three terms you might hear when you go for a shoe fitting. If the fitter does not mention any of these words, you should probably go to a different shop since these are essential components in finding the best-fitting shoes.

Arch
A fitter at a specialty store should determine what kind of arch you have. This is done by looking at an imprint of your bare foot. If you are able to see your complete foot print with no gaps, then you have a flat foot. If your print looks almost severed in half vertically, you have high arches. A normal arch is a print that is between the flat foot and high arch. There are a variety of shoes designed for people with specific arches, so know your arch before you purchase.

Pronation
When you run, you strike the ground with the outside of your heel. Then the rest of the foot comes down and rolls slightly inward as it meets the surface. Pronation is the down and inward roll of the foot-rolling from the outside heel to the inside toe. Pronation is not a bad thing because it helps your feet and legs absorb shock, but some people have a tendency to overpronate, which is when the foot rolls too much. People who overpronate need strong stabilizing shoes and underpronators, or those whose feet roll too little, need shoes with greater flexibility to encourage feet to pronate further.

Foot Strike
Most runners tend to be heel strikers who land on the outside of the heel and then roll up to push off the ball of the foot and the toes. Some runners, however, are forefoot striker and land more on the ball of the foot. Often, wear patters on older shoes can tell a lot about a person’s foot strike. Knowing a person’s foot strike can help the fitter determine where more cushioning is needed.