On The Right Foot

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On The Right Foot

Selecting the right footwear

Specific shoes are designed to work in harmony with the biomechanics associated with specific sports. What should you look for when buying shoes for your favourite exercise or sport? Not all shoes are made for walking. Some are for cross-country running. Others are for sports such as tennis or squash. A surprising amount of thought and technology has gone into the design and manufacture of sports and exercise shoes. For example, running shoes are designed to absorb shock and facilitate forward motion, whereas shoes for tennis, squash and badminton are designed for forward and lateral motion, and abrupt changes in direction. Even for the same sport played on different surfaces requires different types of shoes.  For instance, traditional soccer boots with studs are suitable for playing on a gras pitch, but if you are playing on artificial turf, they may have too much grip and risk injury to your knee ligaments. Then there are cross-trainers which are almost like an all-purpose sport shoe. They are a good choice if you are participating in a variety of sports of varying workout routine. For example, if you are running on a treadmill at the gym, running shoes will do, however if you are also doing other exercises such as aerobics, the cross-trainers are more suitable. Incorrect footwear are one of the most common causes of foot injury.

Wearing ill-fitting shoes or the wrong type of shoes can subject you to injuries such as claw toes and bunions. It can also cause soft tissue injuries such as blisters, corns and calluses, Morton’s neuroma and plantar plate tears. Common foot, ankle and leg injuries that are caused or exacerbated by wearing the wrong shoes are plantar fasciitis, shinsplints, achilles tendonitis, patella-femoral syndrome (knee pain). 

Any good footwear shop should be able to assist you in selecting the correct shoes for your foot type and exercise. If in doubt, consult a podiatrist. Whilst we often think of cost as a good gauge of the quality of shoe, it does not necessarily mean that the more expensive shoes are better. What is important is choosing the type of shoes appropriate for the sports, your foot type and the way your feet strike the ground (biomechanics). Some people have wider fore-feet and require shoes with wider widths and there are many brands who cater for such feet.