Athletic Shoes: How to Find the Proper Fit

Rebound is proud to have served professional, collegiate and amateur athletes for more than 50 years. Whether you’re an avid runner or you prefer the court, having a proper fitting athletic shoe is an important part of your overall foot health. In honor of Foot Health Awareness Month, one of our foot experts has provided some tips on selecting the right shoe and fit for the right athletic activity.

Why Does the Type of Athletic Shoe Matter?

Choosing the type of shoe for the sport or activity you’re participating in can make a difference for your feet and ankles in many ways. How? Shoes are designed specifically for certain sports, and can greatly affect your comfort and performance. Along with the right strength training, a proper athletic shoe has the ability to help prevent injuries like sprains, stress fractures and tendinitis.

“Foot and ankle injuries are very common in athletes. You place repetitive pressure on them, along with our legs, and it is important to select a shoe that is designed to lessen the amount of force and handle the type of movement involved,” says Dr. C. Luke Rust.

It is also important to consider how often you engage in your particular sport, or if you participate in a variety of athletic activities.

“You may need a shoe that has the specific sport in mind, to optimize your performance and prevent painful injuries,” says Dr. C. Luke Rust.

“If you participate infrequently in any particular sport, it is not necessarily crucial to have a special shoe for each sport. Cross trainers may be more appropriate.”

Tips for Trying on Athletic Shoes

  • Time of day counts. Trying on shoes toward the end of the day or post workout is advised, because your feet swell throughout day. This will help you better gauge the fit.
  • Don’t forget socks. More importantly, don’t forget the type of sock that you would wear while you’re wearing that particular athletic shoe.
  • Consider the heel counter. The back of the shoe should grip your heel and hold it in place. If it does not, you may encounter stability issues.
  • Spacing matters. Be sure that there is at least a half-inch space between your longest toe and tip of the shoe.
  • Don’t neglect the left (or the right). Try on both pairs of shoes to get an accurate understanding of the fit.
  • Walk it out. Taking your pair in question for a test run will help you decide on fit and the level of comfort.

Selecting a Running Shoe

Considering the shape of your foot and arch is crucial. Your arch will help determine the type of running shoe you need to offer ample comfort and support,” says Dr. Rust.

“Many people buy running shoes without consultation or consideration of their foot shape, which can be problematic and cause strain to the foot, ankle and leg,” says Dr. Rust.

If you have a high arched or rigid foot, you should consider a shoe that has more concentrated cushioning in the midsole and heel. As a runner with these needs, you would be considered a “supinator.”

A runner who finds they need more support in their arch while running would look for a stability shoe. This type of runner is considered a “pronator,” and has an arch that may collapse while running.

The most stable running shoe is a motion control shoe, and is often the shoe runners with little to no arch select. Those with a heavier body weight may also be best suited to select a motion control shoe, as it stabilizes the heel and provides maximum control in stride.

Should I Purchase a Cross Trainer Shoe?

While this type of shoe is ideal for people who engage in multiple forms of exercise throughout the week, cross trainers are not designed to withstand extensive running (four plus miles/day) during the course of a week. They are considered best as a sport-to-sport shoe because they offer flexibility and lateral control.

What is the Difference Between a Running Shoe and a Court Shoe?

Court shoes offer more stability for sports that involve a combination of running, cutting and jumping. They are able to withstand movement in all directions and offer more support to the ankle than a standard running shoe. On a court shoe, you will notice a solid tread. This type of shoe is ideal for sports like basketball, volleyball and tennis.

Our physicians and athletic trainers can help identify your specific shoe needs, especially if you currently have foot or ankle conditions that should be considered,” says Dr. Rust. “When it comes to feet, prevention is the best medicine. Avoiding foot pain or injury starts with a properly fitting shoe.”

For a more in-depth look at finding a proper shoe and fit, check out the resources below. Should you need consultation regarding the health and care of your feet, contact us here or call 1-800-REBOUND.

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) – Athletic Shoes

American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society – How to Select the Right Athletic Shoes

American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society – How to Lace Shoes for a Proper Fit

AAOS- Resources on the Foot and Ankle

Runner’s World – Pronation

Runner’s World – Supination