M. Pierce Ebaugh, DO
The first step to avoid a foot or ankle injury while playing sports is choosing the appropriate shoe. But there are so many options that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. The right athletic shoe can help boost your performance and prevent injury, specifically to the foot and ankle, providing both support and comfort.
Start with the Right Size
Wearing the correct size shoe is crucial. While this may seem intuitive, you might be surprised by how many student athletes are not wearing shoes that fit correctly. Parents tend to buy shoes in a size too large for their children because they outgrow them quickly.
But the problem with wearing the incorrect size is not limited to children. Between 63 percent and 72 percent of adults in a recent study wore shoes that did not accommodate either width or length dimensions of their feet. Adults often don’t realize that shoe size can change as our body changes over the years. It’s unlikely you’ll be the same size throughout your life.
A poorly fitting shoe can cause many unnecessary and painful problems such as:
Avoiding these common issues make spending the time finding the correct fit worth it. Measure your foot regularly — or visit an athletic shoe store that specializes in outfitting customers with the best shoe possible — and consider the proper fit and size.
Where To Shop
Online purchases are convenient, but unless you have previous knowledge of the shoe requirements for a specific sport, have a brand that has worked for you in the past, and have recently had your foot measured, a brick-and-mortar store may be the best place to start.
A shoe store that specializes in athletic footwear often have experienced shoe-fitting experts on-hand. They can measure your feet and even analyze your gait to guide you to the proper shoe structure that’s appropriate for your sport.
Different Sports, Different Shoes
If you are playing a sport often, whether recreationally or on a team, consider the unique needs of the individual sport.
For some students, it may be possible to use a basic athletic shoe for many different activities. However, it can be important for high school athletes and adults to have sport-specific shoes.
Shoes designed and made for an intended sport consider the conditions and the movement requirements of the sport. There is often more to a shoe than what you can see on the outside.
- ·Soccer and Football: Soccer cleats are best purchased a half-size smaller to cradle the foot and provide extra support from the impact of kicking the ball. Whether you play on artificial turf or on grass also makes a different in which cleat you may choose.
- Basketball: High-top sneakers used to be the shoe of choice for basketball players because they provided extra support in the ankle for quick pivoting on squeaky polished wood and concrete courts. Now, basketball shoes provide extra padding and protection in the ankle areas for these reasons.
- Tennis: Depending on whether you play tennis on clay or concrete courts will determine the best shoe for your matches. Tennis shoes sit lower on the ankle to allow players to shift their weight freely.
Tips for buying athletic shoes
Do your homework. Talk to your coach and other players about what shoes they wear and why they like them.
Mind the clock. Our feet tend to swell throughout the day — sometimes growing up to 8 percent larger. Buy your shoes for the most comfortable fit toward the end of the day.
Socks matter. To ensure the proper fit, try on your shoes with the sock you would normally wear for the sport.
Break them in before the game. Whether you buy online or in a store, make sure you walk around in the shoes before wearing them for an athletic event.
Lace up. Shoes can often be laced in different ways to provide different levels of support to the top and sides of the shoe, so experiment with the laces to ensure you have a secure fit.
Be an inspector. Make sure you try on the right and left shoes at the same time and check both for possible defects before purchasing.
Shoe Inserts Can Help Chronic Foot Issues
Shoes won’t help correct chronic foot or ankle issues, but a trained orthopedist can. Custom corrective orthotics can often be prescribed to help eliminate discomfort. An orthotic is a special insert used in shoes to help treat issues like flatfoot or plantar fasciitis.
If you experience pain when walking, running or playing a sport, see a doctor.
SOURCE: ORLANDO HEALTH