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How to Choose the Correct Athletic Shoe
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It seems like there are as many different types of athletic shoes as there are people to wear them. So how do you know which one is right for you and your activities? Is it the cool style or the vibrant colors that should attract you to a athletic shoe? Or is it the fit, function and structure of a athletic shoe?
"There are hundreds of athletic shoes you can choose from. It's very important to choose the correct athletic shoe for the activity or sport you participate in because it can help you perform better and help keep you injury free," explains University of Michigan MedSport Athletic Training Clinical Specialist Vahan Agbabian. However, choosing the appropriate shoe isn't an easy task due to the hundreds of shoes available.
The prescription for a correct athletic shoe includes knowing your foot type, knowing your mobility and flexibility levels and knowing what activity you want to purchase the shoe for.
Agbabian stresses the importance of choosing the correct shoe based on your foot type.
"If you have a higher arched foot, a higher arch athletic shoe will probably feel more comfortable. For example, a Nike brand has a type of shock system and your heel is propped up with this device and with the heel propped up it matches a high arch foot type," says Agbabian.
Not only is structure of the athletic shoe important, but so is flexibility of the person's feet and flexibility of the shoe. Athletic shoes must be flexible or your foot will fight them as it rolls through each step, leading to shin splints. Twist the athletic shoe and they should twist. Bend the athletic shoe and they should bend at the ball of the foot, not in the middle of the arch. Set them down and poke the toe - the athletic shoe should rock as the toe should be slightly off the ground. If the athletic shoe passes these tests, it might be the correct pair.
Agbabian warns that "the type of athletic shoe you choose should match your activity level." For example, if someone is trying to find a shoe to play tennis in, it needs to have enough stability to hold up to the demands of tennis -- sprinting to the net, serving and cutting. You wouldn't want to play tennis in running shoes, Agbabian says, because they don't provide the stability you need. Running shoes aren't designed for that kind of stability.
"Probably the one shoe style that allows you the most variability is a cross training shoe. You can run, be on the court, and go in the gym to work out," explains Agbabian. A cross training shoe is a style that carries characteristics of different types of shoes. Cross training shoes offer enough stability as well as comfort in order for individuals to participate in a variety of activities.
Other important things to consider:
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