The function of the sport shoe is to protect the foot from the stresses of running and training, while permitting the athlete to achieve his or her maximum potential. Although in some parts of the world athletes participate in sports barefooted, most of us require and benefit from the use of sport specific shoes. The forces and motions that occur in different sports vary greatly. Because of these differences, active participation in varied sports will require varied shoes.
A simple example of why this is important is demonstrated by a contrast of the sports of running and tennis. Tennis and other racquet sports require much side to side motion and the shoe must provide lateral stability. The shoes appropriate for racquet sports usually do not have any heel elevation. If the shoe is unstable when the athlete is moving from side to side to return the ball, the likelihood is good that they will suffer ankle strain. Recreational running, on the other hand, usually occurs in a straight line. Lateral stability is not as important. These shoes usually have slight heel elevation which will reduce stress on the Achilles tendon, but slightly reduce the lateral stability of the ankle. Running shoes also have a larger toe box and more shock absorption.
Shoe Buying Tips
Buy shoes at the end of the day, when your feet are somewhat larger form walking.
Make sure there is about a finger’s width at the front of the shoe. This will prevent runner’s toe. The shape and depth of the front of the shoe also affect this problem.
Shoe Wearing Tips
A shoe’s midsole only lasts so long. It degrades from use and the resultant useful life of a running shoe is 350 to 550 miles. This means that if you run 20 miles a week, your shoes should last about 20 to 25 weeks. After that time, the shoe may still be worn for casual wear.
Sole wear does not necessarily reflect the loss of shock absorption of a shoe. Even a new looking shoe may lack adequate shock absorption. Use the 350 to 550 mile guideline instead of trying to guess how worn out your shoe looks.
Do not ever run in a marathon in a new pair of shoes! Your shoes should be well broken in (about 100 miles).
Make sure you carefully lace your shoes before running. Too tight a shoe may make parts of the top of the foot sore or squeeze the metatarsals too tightly. Too loose a shoe may make the foot move excessively and be less stable.
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