Tips for Parents
Putting Your Best Foot Forward: Choosing Athletic Shoes This Spring
Putting your best foot forward" is always a good idea, especially when it comes to exercise. So, whether students are hitting the streets, doing treadmill time or trying any number of active pursuits this spring, there's no need to get hurt. They just need to consider their feet and the athletic shoes that fit them best.
Getting To Know Their Feet
Before deciding upon footwear, it's important for them to get to know their own feet.
They can start off with the "wet foot" test to determine the shape of their arch. It takes wetting their foot and stepping onto a brown paper bag. They may find:
- A slight, thin imprint means they have a high arch. This may cause their feet to roll outward or underpronate. As a result, they'll need shoes with adequate arch support that are well cushioned and soft, according to the Association for Fitness Professionals. The shoe form or "last" should also be curved.
- A full footprint means they have a low arch or flat foot. Their feet may roll inward or overpronate. They'll need shoes with moderate arch support that are firm and have motion-control features. A last that is straight also works best.
Shoe Shopping Tips
Various fitness associations and shoe manufacturers offer the following tips to consider as students shop for the best fitting athletic shoes:
- For proper fit, make sure that there's a thumbnail's width between the end of the shoe and the longest toe. The heel shouldn't slip and the wearer should be able to wiggle his toes.
- Consult with a podiatrist to assess which shoes will be most beneficial if the wearer suffered previous foot injuries.
- Avoid shoes that bend in the center of the arch or behind the ball of the foot, suggests the American Fitness Professionals and Associates. The human foot is not designed to bend here and neither should shoes!
- Shop for shoes toward the end of the day when feet are most swollen. After all, exercising will cause feet to swell. And wear the same socks intended for use during workouts.
- Don't rush and don't feel pressured. If a student's primary activity involves lunging, she should do some right there in the shoe store! She'll want to move around to see how the shoes really feel.
- Take the shoe off and squeeze the heel to check how firm it is.
- Set the shoe on a flat surface to make sure it doesn't tilt to one side or the other. Tilting may be a sign of poor workmanship.
- And remember that athletic shoes do not need to be "broken in" like some other shoes do. They should feel comfortable when they're being tried on in the store.
Nothing kills the resolve to workout like the pain and blisters that poor-fitting shoes may cause. Students can invest some time now to ensure that their athletic shoes will provide the necessary comfort and support. Their grateful, healthy feet will carry them away!
Determining Fitness Needs
Is your student a workout warrior or a multi-sport athlete? This makes a difference when she is looking at shoes. Lloyd Smith of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine offers these tips:
- The lateral, side-to-side support of a cross-training shoe is best for occasional activities such as tennis, basketball, racquetball and some aerobics classes.
- The built-in front-to-back support found in other cross training shoes works best for casual walkers, joggers, and cyclists.
- Sports-specific shoes for things such as running, aerobics, and more are the best bet if students participate in that activity more than once a week.
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