You will be more comfortable being active if you choose a shoe that fits you well, suits your activity type, is appropriate for any problems with your feet, and helps protect your feet, legs and joints.
What the right shoe can do for you
The right shoe:
- cushions the foot – the midsole is the main part of the shoe that provides cushioning. Surprisingly, shoes don’t reduce the force that goes through the body all that much. But they do increase the time taken for that force to apply, so the body has time to adapt
- supports the foot – your shoe should aid the alignment of your foot when it touches the ground
- feels comfortable – your shoe should feel immediately comfortable from the first wear
- fits well – make sure you have at least 1‒1.5cm at the end of the shoe. It should be wide enough and long enough to fit your feet. The shoe should feel snug but not tight.
How to choose the right shoe
Try to buy your athletic shoes from a specialty store. The staff may advise you on the type of shoe you need for your activity or sport. And they can properly fit the shoes so you end up with the right size.
- Shop for shoes after exercise or at the end of the day. This will help make sure that shoes feel comfortable when your feet are at their largest.
- Try the shoes wearing the same type of sock that you will wear for the activity.
- Have the shop assistant measure your feet every time you buy shoes, because your feet may become larger and wider as you age. It’s also common for one foot to be slightly bigger than the other.
- Check that you can wiggle all your toes when wearing the shoes. Remember, you need room for your foot to move within the shoe as you walk or run.
- The shoes should be comfortable as soon as you try them on. Don’t rely on ‘breaking them in’.
- Walk or run a few steps in your shoes, to check they are comfortable.
- Make sure the shoes grip your heel. Your heel should not slip in the shoes when you move.
- Think about width as well as length. If the ball of your foot feels squashed, ask if the shoe comes in a wider size. Shoes that are a half-size larger — but not wider — may not help.
- Feel the inside of the shoes to check for tags, seams, or other material that might irritate your foot.
- Examine the soles. Are they sturdy enough to protect against harmful objects? Do they provide appropriate grip? Try to walk on both carpet and hard surfaces.
If you play a sport, it’s a good idea to wear shoes designed for that sport. There are specific shoes designed for tennis, golf, soccer, football, netball, running, cycling and other sports. Each has a different design, material and weight to best protect feet against the stresses of the particular activity.
A good tip when buying shoes is to take a tracing of your foot with you. If a shoe is narrower or shorter than the tracing, don’t even try it on.