Navigating Your Way Through Athletic Shoe Choices

Does athletic shoe shopping drive you crazy? Visit any shoe store and you’ll be treated to row upon row of colorful, high tech shoes that are designed for running, hiking, cross training and virtually every sport you can imagine. Is there really a difference from one shoe to another? Perhaps. Most fitness experts will recommend a shoe designed specifically for any activity you participate in more than three times a week. To make shoe shopping a bit less painful here is a quick guide to the basic types of athletic shoes you’ll find in most stores.

  • Running Shoes are designed to provide maximum overall shock absorption for the foot and should also have good heel control. Although not a cure-all, these qualities in a running/sports shoe help to prevent shin splints, tendinitis, heel pain, stress fractures and other overuse syndromes.
  • Hiking Shoes are often sturdy, high tops, in a dark color to hide trail dust. A good pair of hiking shoes will give you good traction on uneven or slippery surface and provide good ankle support.
  • Walking Shoes are designed for comfort and support. Shoes can be divided into motion control, stability and race walking shoes. Walking shoes have more rigidity in the front so you can roll off your toes rather than bend through them as you would while running.
  • Cross Trainers combine several of the above features so that you can participate in more than one sport. A good cross trainer should have the flexibility in the forefoot you need for running combined with the lateral control necessary for aerobics or tennis.
  • Aerobic Training Shoes should be lightweight to prevent foot fatigue and have extra shock absorption in the sole beneath the ball of the foot (metatarsal area) where the most stress occurs.

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