Column 32 - Wear the Right Shoes

Original publication date: April 11, 1984

Dry sidewalks mean good riddance to winter boots and hello to running shoes. For those who need new shoes, the first and most important decision you must make is not what brand of shoe to buy, but for what sport or purpose do you need the shoe.

Dr. Lloyd Nesbitt, a Toronto podiatrist, has determined that the type of shoe worn is directly related to the number of injuries received while playing a sport or just going for a walk. Because different activities place stress on different areas of the foot, the foot motion itself necessitates the type of shoe to be worn. For example, jogging shoes are designed to take impact at the heel and forefoot as the foot repeatedly hits the ground. Jogging shoes should never be worn for tennis, as tennis requires a shoe that can withstand impact at the sides of the foot. The jogging shoe lacks this vital support needed for the constant lunging side to side, and if worn while playing tennis could invite an ankle injury.

Some components of a good jogging shoe include an elevated heel to help prevent fatigue and injury from the repeated impact. Some shoes now have graphite (a form of carbon) in the heel area to provide a more stable platform for foot take-off and landing.

The heel should be at least three inches across to help postion the heel as it lands without the risk of going over on the ankle. The area under the ball of the foot should be well-cushioned with a rubber compound sole. If you jog outside on the sidewalks or inside on a hard gym floor, buy a shoe that has shallow traction patterns on the sole. If you value your legs and spine and prefer to jog on soft surfaces such as grass, buy a shoe that has a high-studded traction on the sole. This aids in the cushioning and balance of the foot while jogging over bumpy surfaces. Shoes made with nylon uppers allow the foot to breathe and are nice and light.

Jogging shoes are good for walking, especially if you walk briskly and for some distance. Jumping rope, bicycling and stationary exercises can also be done while wearing jogging shoes.

If you need a shoe for a dance or aerobic class, look for a nylon shoe that is flat-soled and has leather or suede reinforcements around the forefoot, to help prevent sliding and to define your movements. Gum-rubber soles are best for polished floors such as a gym floor, and polyurethane soles are best for nonpolished floors, such as carpeting or old wooden floors. This shoe can also double as a volleyball shoe or for an occassional game of squash or racquetball.

Those of you anxious to play tennis will need an extra sturdy pair of shoes. Leather or a nylon and leather combination with a strong reinforcement around the forefoot is needed to withstand the lateral abuse. If playing outdoors, a rubber compound sole wears best. For those of you playing indoors, you should be wearing a shoe with a gum-rubber traction sole. Tennis shoes can be worn for basketball or for everyday use if the shoe has a good arch support.

Shoe buying tips ... Try shoes on in the late afternoon when the foot is slightly swollen ... The shoe should bend easily at the ball of the foot but be stiff under the arch ... Have your feet measured while standing and wear the socks you'd normally wear for your sport ... Allow one half inch from the longest toe to the end of the shoe for maximum comfort and fit ... Try on as many shoes as possible.

Copyright 2021 K.L. McCluskey, all rights reserved.