You can save money in lots of ways when it comes to exercising (see 27 ways to get fit for free) but buying good shoes is one area where you should not compromise.
The wrong shoes can affect your performance and cause injury.
Athletic shoes need to
- fit your feet properly
- feel comfortable
- offer support
- be flexible where required
- offer protection for your bones, joints and muscles by absorbing shock
- keep your feet in a good position for whatever sport you are doing
Do You Need Shoes Designed for each Activity?
Some activities need specialist equipment, for example climbing or hill walking and if you are involved in these you have to buy what you need.
For more general activities like running or tennis it might not be so obvious. Can you get away with a cross-training shoe?
If you run, you should always wear running shoes which are designed to absorb shock – they have more cushioning than other athletic shoes and they support the forward motion without too much side to side flexibility.
For other activities, it depends how often you take part and what your budget is – three times a week or more and it definitely becomes worth investing in shoes designed to meet the needs of your particular sport.
If you do a mix of activities such as aerobics, walking and tennis, a cross-trainer may be a good option – they are supportive for the whole range of motion in the foot.
Where to Buy Sports Shoes
It’s best to choose a specialist retailer. When I chose my running shoes my local running shop video-taped me running on a treadmill in several pair of shoes – and some of them which felt quite comfortable when I put them on, rubbed the skin and hurt when I ran in them.
They also assessed the action of my feet for over- and underpronation both from the video and the wear patterns on my old shoes and gave me the right kind of shoes for my running style. I have normal pronation it appears but I’m still not sure I liked looking at myself running on the video (but I got over it).
Even if you don’t need a specialist running shop – look for a shop where they know their products so that you can get plenty of advice before you buy. Get the size checked too – you should have plenty of room to wriggle your toes and the heel should not be slipping when you wear your usual sports socks. The best size is often larger than your usual shoe size.
When to Buy
Shop for shoes in the afternoon as your feet become larger as the day goes on.
When to Replace your Athletic Shoes
Replace your shoes after about a year even if they show no signs of wear – as the cushioning and support will be getting less effective. (You may need to replace running shoes earlier than that if you do a lot of running – every 500 miles and walking shoes every 1000 miles).