Sports Podiatrist Shares Insights on Shoe Selection
Dr. Bruce Williams, sports medicine and gait analysis podiatrist at the Weil Foot & Ankle Institute, says athletic shoes should be specific to the activity and individual feet as well.
"While exercising, the way we use our muscles, joints and tendons is key to a successful workout. In order to facilitate proper body mechanics, your shoes need to be appropriate for the type of exercise and your specific feet," says Dr. Williams. "Many common injuries, including plantar fasciitis, shin splints or stress fractures, can be prevented and helped with the proper athletic shoes."
Dr. Williams suggests following the steps below when selecting athletic shoes:
- Know your activity: The type of shoe will vary depending on the type of activity. Running long distances is best done in a running shoe. The type of shoe, whether neutral, stability or motion control, depends on an athlete's individual foot type and function. Some runners can use lighter shoes for up-tempo runs and speed work, but not all will benefit from these types of shoes. Court sports, such as tennis and basketball, almost always require shoes specific to the individual sport with added side-to-side support.
- Be generous with size: While sizing down into shoes is never recommended, it is an especially bad idea for athletic shoes. Make sure there is enough space in the toe area when the shoe is tied; about a thumbnail length of extra space is recommended so the toes don't continually hit the front of the shoe while exercising. In addition, feet shouldn't be rubbing against the sides and the back of the shoes to prevent blisters, calluses and corns. That being said, shoes should still be tight enough to prevent the feet from sliding around easily within the shoe.
- Know your style: This isn't referring to fashion style, but rather running style. Determine your motion mechanics or pronation, meaning whether your foot rolls in, out or neither. An over-pronator rolls the foot significantly inward during motion while feet that over supinate roll excessively outward during. The type of pronation will help determine the structure of the shoe and the amount of stability necessary for proper running.
- Get fitted: Whenever possible, get fitted at a specialty store. The salespeople will know the different types of shoes available. Many stores have treadmills with cameras set up to record your stride. This can visibly show you your pronation type and any additional stride specifics that can help determine the best shoe type for your feet.
About Weil Foot & Ankle Institute:
Since its opening in 1965, Weil Foot & Ankle Institute and Chicago Sports Medicine and Dance Injury Center has been an Illinois staple delivering exceptional foot and ankle care. The practice was founded by Dr. Lowell Scott Weil, Sr. in Des Plaines, IL and has since grown to 23 podiatric physicians providing foot and ankle services at 20 locations. Their services reconstructive foot and ankle surgery, diabetic wound care, pediatric and geriatric foot disorders and sports medicine. Recognized as an international leader in podiatric medicine and surgery, the doctors at Weil Foot & Ankle Institute have provided care and treatment to more than 130,000 patients since 1965. The doctors at Weil Foot & Ankle Institute are Team Podiatrists for the Chicago White Sox and have been featured in many prominent media outlets including ABC 7, NBC, WGN, CBS and The Weather Channel.
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