Tips When Choosing Shoes for Sports

Robert G. Parker
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Dr. Parker is a podiatrist and surgeon in Houston, TX who has been helping patients for more than 40 years.

Sports shoesLike Goldilocks looking for a chair and a bed, you need to find sports footwear that is “just right.” You can’t play your best game when they pinch your toes or trip you because they are too big. Here’s what characteristics to look for in shoes for sports, plus shoe fitting tips to help you make sure they are just what you need and help you avoid sports injuries.

We’ll start with shoe construction styles needed for certain sports. Jumping sports need footwear with a thick stiff sole to protect from impact of landing. Basketball requires higher tops to protect the ankle joint from direction changes, and volleyball needs a lighter sole that is more responsive to quick starts and stops.

Soccer shoes should support the arch and have rubber molded cleats that fit the surface you play on most often (artificial or grass, hard or soft). Football and Lacrosse players could also use higher tops because of the frequent lateral movements, plus appropriate traction for field conditions.

Baseball and softball need good arch support, especially for catchers who crouch a lot. Kids should not wear metal spikes, but may benefit from multi-cleats after age 11. Running shoes require shock absorption and support for your arch type. They should not be used for other sports, and need to be replaced every few hundred miles.

Now that you know what to look for, how do you make sure they fit? Use these tips:

  • Shop in the late afternoon or evening, when your feet have swelled a little, so shoes will fit during those late day games.
  • Bring the socks you will wear while playing, to ensure they will fit comfortably in the shoe.
  • Measure your feet each time. Adult feet can change over time, too. Once you get the size and width, use them as a guideline, not a hard-and-fast rule. Fit can vary with different styles and manufacturers.
  • Use a “rule of thumb” – the width of your thumb is the distance you want between your longest toe and the shoe front.
  • Try them out while standing, walking and running around the store if possible. They should be comfortable from the get-go – no breaking in time should be needed.

Parker Foot & Ankle can analyze your foot arch style and shape before you shop. Contact our Houston office for an appointment by dialing (281) 497-2850 or using our online form, and find shoes that are “just right.”

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