Warmer weather can be the perfect motivation to lace up your sneakers and start outdoor workouts again. But wearing the wrong shoes can lead to discomfort or, even worse, make you more prone to injury. Luckily, “there are a few steps you can take to help prevent some of the most common footwear mistakes," says sports podiatrist Stephen Pribut. Follow these tips to make sure you’re in the best shoe for you.
Running Shoes Tip No. 1: Stick with what works.
“The first thing I try to do is figure out what’s worked for my patients in the past,” says Pribut. If you’ve run uninjured for the last three years, he doesn’t advise making an abrupt change in footwear. As the old adage goes, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.
Running Shoes Tip No. 2: Be wary of trends.
Don't fall into the trap of trying popular new footwear. For example, barefoot running shoes shift how your feet hit the ground. That stresses your leg bones and tendons in different ways, says Pribut. If you decide to try a minimalist shoe for the first time, make the transition slowly: Try walking with them in your house, then try one minute of walking for every five minutes running and build up from there,” says Pribut.
Running Shoes Tip No. 3: Don’t shop online.
Rather than shopping online and buying shoes that may fit you poorly, go to a store where the salespeople are experienced in doing custom athletic shoe fittings. Make sure you try several shoes on; don’t settle for the first shoe that feels all right.
Running Shoes Tip No. 4: Match your shoes to your workout.
There’s a reason there are so many different sneaker categories these days: “They’re designed to help your legs and feet better handle the different types of terrain and impact you’ll encounter,” says Pribut. So if you play tennis, get a tennis shoe; if you run in the woods, get a trail shoe; and if you love fitness classes, use a cross-trainer. There are even special shoes for Zumba.
Running Shoes Tip No. 5: Beware toning sneakers.
Since these shoes work by creating instability, they may cause trouble for people who are more prone to balance problems. “These shoes should come with a warning; people have fallen and broken bones because of them,” says Pribut. He advises avoiding them altogether after the age of 60.
Running Shoes Tip No. 6: Shop for your injuries.
If you've had to see a doctor or podiatrist in the past for problems, make sure to keep them in mind while shoe shopping. Pribut recommends skipping any shoes with too much cushioning if you have tendon injuries, for example, because they can overflex the tendon. If you have plantar fasciitis, steer clear of any shoes that flex in the middle of the sole. Ask a podiatrist for recommendations on other specific issues.
Robin Hilmantel is an associate editor at Food Network Magazine. Her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, USA Today and Maxim, among other publications. She is a frequent contributor to Completely You.
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