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How to find your perfect sole-mate

January 25, 2018

As your shoes can make or break your workout, it pays to take your time to shop around for the pair that fits you—and your needs—the best. Buying the wrong shoe can result in blisters at best and, at worst, more serious injuries that could bench you in the long term. Here are some common issues that arise from wearing the wrong sports shoe.

Inflamed tendons: A common complaint among runners, this is commonly felt on the inside of the ankle or outer edge of the foot. The former happens as a result of the ankle rolling inwards—meaning a more structured shoe is needed— while the latter happens because the shoe has too much support in the arch.

Stress fractures: While “barefoot running” has a been a buzzword in recent years, recent studies have shown that minimalist shoes are probably best used by forefoot strikers only. Those who land on their heels when they run are more prone to stress fractures due to the lack of cushioning provided by minimalist running shoes.

Plantar fasciitis: This intense heel pain (caused by an inflammation of the plantar fascia that connects the heel to the toes) is most commonly linked to wearing the wrong shoes. Those with flat feet or a high arch are most commonly afflicted.

With so many brands and types of shoes in the market, however, shopping for a pair of sports shoes can feel like an overwhelming task. Here are some things to keep in mind the next time you’re in the market for a new pair.

1. Go for sport-specific shoes

Will you primarily be using your shoes for running or sports like tennis and badminton? If you do a specific activity at least three times a week, it pays to invest in a sport-specific shoe. For instance, if you run reguarly, you should look for a pair of shoes that is flexible, stable, and provides ample cushioning. If your sport of choice is played in a court, then the shoe needs a good sole for all the forward, backward, and side-to-side motions your body makes.

2. The right pair of shoes should feel great immediately

Forget the common wisdom that a new pair of shoes needs to be “broken into”. The right pair should feel comfortable straight out of the box.

3. Consult an expert

Many sports stores—especially those that sell running shoes—have trained their staff in gait analysis. Through analysing how you walk and jog on a treadmill, the staff member should be able to recommend you a few pairs based on factors like the arches of your feet, pronation (how much your foot rolls inward) to decide whether you need a shoe that offers more cushioning or more stability. Remember, providing the expert with as much information as possible would greatly help him or her hunt down your sole male, so be sure to tell the staff member know how long your runs usually are, what surface you usually do your runs on, etc.

4. Go up a size

It’s always better to buy shoes that are a little too big than too small. Shoes that are too small can put undue pressure on your toes, leading to the loss of toenails. Your sports shoes should be a size bigger than your regular shoes – there should be some wiggle room between the tip of your biggest toe and the front of your shoe.

Last but not least, to ensure the best fit, be sure to always bring along a pair of socks when you’re buying your shoes and to try on the shoes at the end of day so as not to end up with a pair that’s too small for you.