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Sneaker Savvy: What to Look for When Shopping for Athletic Shoes


  • If you workout several days a week, purchase new athletic shoes every three to six months. Or, if you have logged more than 500 miles on your shoes, it’s time to invest in a new pair. You may need to shop for shoes more often if you have a postural imbalance.

  • Have BOTH feet measured (while you are standing, not sitting) each time you purchase new shoes. If your feet are different sizes, always buy for the larger foot.

  • Shop for shoes immediately following a workout or in the evening when feet are swollen. Wear the same type of socks you wear while exercising.

  • Try on BOTH shoes in a pair for at least 20 minutes before purchasing them. Walk, run and jump around the store to simulate the activity required by your sport.

  • Consider arch height, cushioning, support, “breathability” of material and flexibility of the shoe.

  • Ensure that there is at least one thumb’s width of space from your longest toe to the end of the shoe. Have a sales person check this measurement for you. If you bend over to check it yourself, your foot’s position will shift.

  • Choose an athletic shoe made specifically for your sport.

  • Shop at athletic-shoe speciality stores that offer free consultations with injury-prevention specialists.

  • If you suffer from “weak” ankles, look for sneakers with built in “neoprene sleeves,” which work like ace-bandages to prevent ankles from wobbling.

  • If your sport requires cleats, look for the shorter, plastic variety. Longer spikes may cement your foot into the soil, causing excessive twisting at the knee and related injuries.

  • Forget the frills. Don’t be swayed by extravagant packaging or advertising campaigns. Instead choose shoes from companies that pour money into research and development, not splashy marketing.

  • If your sport requires heavy equipment – such as football gear or hiking packs – make sure to try on shoes while wearing the equipment.


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