Whether you run, cycle or lift weights at the gym, what you wear on your feet is crucial, an expert says.
Well-fitting footwear prevents injury and increases comfort and performance, University of Melbourne sports podiatrist Kade Paterson told The New Daily.
“The more comfortable the athlete rates the shoe, the less likely they are to be injured in that shoe.”
Improper shoes can cause minor injuries, such as blisters, ingrown nails, callouses and corns, Dr Paterson, also from Lakeside Sports Medicine Centre, said.
You also risk more serious injuries, such as intense heel pain; severe bruising or even tiny stress fractures in the bones in your feet; and pain, swelling and stiffness in your Achilles tendon.
If the shoe fits, wear it
Dr Paterson said the most common footwear problem was incorrect fit.
“Quite a large percentage of patients I see with footwear-related problems are due to the shoe being too small or large rather than the presence or absence of a specific footwear feature like motion control or cushioning.”
A well-fitting shoe will allow a half or a full thumb width of free space between the end of your longest toe and the end of the shoe, Dr Paterson said.
Make sure that both your feet are measured, as the major athletic brands now offer different foot width sizes. Also, bring along any thick socks or orthotics you regularly wear, as these can affect sizing.
The end of the day is probably the best time for a fitting, Dr Paterson said.
“Your feet lengthen slightly the longer you’ve been on them.”
When to buy a new pair
Your midsole – the material one layer above the rubber that touches the ground – will tell you when to replace your shoes, Dr Paterson said.
When it starts to look degraded and very wrinkled, it may be time to buy.
Best sprinting shoes
Vision Personal Training director Laura Moore said a large proportion of runners suffer a degree of pronation or supination (the rolling inward or outward of the feet).
For this reason, it is important to choose a sprinting shoe that returns the foot to a neutral position.
“Over pronation or supination can leave you susceptible to injuries as it causes the leg to rotate also which increase stresses on the lower limbs and can leave you with unnecessary niggles and pains,” Ms Moore said.
Style: Mizuno Wave Inspire 11
Best long-distance runners
Ms Moore said the diverse terrains faced by a long-distance runner force the foot into many different positions.
“It will need to withstand elements such as water, mud and dust while still allowing the foot to breathe, so a leather upper with air holes or a breathable synthetic material is recommended,” she said.
“The sole will need to have a more substantial tread on it to provide extra grip on unstable surfaces and also provide some cushioning, particularly in the heel, to help absorb some of the shock when the foot hits the ground.”
Style: Asics Kayano 21
Best walking shoes
Ms Moore said normal running shoes would work if you plan to walk along paths.
But when going off-track, a boot style shoe would provide ankle support.
“Grip on the sole of the shoe will also need to be a consideration here, to give you extra assistance when facing slippery and unstable surfaces,” she said.
“In terms of sizing, don’t buy anything that is too snug – you can still ensure the foot is secure by lacing the shoe up correctly.”
Style: Nike Free 5.0
Best for aerobics / Cross-Fit / group training
This type of exercise usually involves a lot of jumping and higher impact movement, so cushioning and support is essential to absorb shock, Ms Moore said.
“I personally wear the same shoes as I do for running when partaking in this kind of activity as my feet will be under a similar amount of stress, if not more, so I want to make sure I am hitting the ground with correct alignment and minimising the impact as much as possible,” she said.
Style: Reebok Nano 2.0
Style: Reebok Cardio Ultra Shoe
Best for boxing
Boxing requires fancy footwork, so Ms Moore recommended a lightweight, flat-soled shoe.
“A regular running shoe may not be appropriate as the extra cushioning and support required to absorb shock is not necessary,” she said.
“It is important to ensure there is adequate grip on the sole to avoid slipping over and potentially spraining an ankle. A high-top shoe will also help prevent this kind of injury.”
Style: Inov8 F – 195