5 Minutes to Wellness: Are Your Feet Happy? Check Your Shoes!
By Dr. Micheala E. Edwards
Today, it’s not unusual to spend more than $100 on a pair of tennis shoes. But are you sure that your shoes are the right ones for you? The way that your feet respond to external forces directly affects your walking and running gaits. Wearing improper shoes can cause increased joint shock, which is interpreted in the body as joint pain that grows from the bottom up (ankles to the knees, then to the hip, and then in the neck). Achy joints may be caused by broken down or worn out shoes. They can also be caused by wearing improper shoes for the activities that you are doing. Therefore, it is imperative that you have the correct shoes on your feet.
Different shoes should be worn for different purposes. For example, you wouldn’t benefit much from wearing a sprinting shoe (track spikes) when walking a mile. A wrestling boot will not give you much support while on the basketball court. First, know what your goals are when selecting a shoe to wear:
• Do you want motion control?
• Do you need a shoe for more stability when walking/running?
• Do you need more support for your ankles?
• What about the cushioning inside of the shoe?
• Are you looking for a high-performance shoe?
You should ask yourself each of these questions before purchasing a pair of tennis shoes. A good shoe salesman should be able to make suggestions on the best shoe for you when you describe your needs for the purchase. Once you’ve made your decision and begin to wear your new tennis shoes, it’s important to maintain proper care of them so that you can obtain optimal results:
• Keep your shoes dry at all costs (wet midsoles decrease shock absorption by 40-50%)
• Always untie your shoes when removing them to avoid breaking down the heel counter/Achilles box
• Add insoles for additional cushioning when necessary (running shoes lose 30-50% of their cushioning in the first 250 miles of wearing the shoe)
• Inspect your soles for discoloration or material deterioration (avoid shoes that may be on sale and have a long shelf life with yellow soles)
• Replace all shoes after 400-600 miles to avoid leg and ankle fatigue
It’s also important to know when to replace your tennis shoes depending on their purpose. Even the best shoes will have some breakdown of their materials and may cause achy joints and injuries in the long run. Know when to replace your tennis shoes according to how often you wear them:
• 10 miles per week or fewer: Replace every 12 months
• 15 miles per week: Replace in 8 months
• 25-30 miles per week: Replace in 4-6 months
A lot of thought should go into your tennis shoe purchase. Be sure to ask plenty of questions and inspect your shoes before you purchase them. Buying the correct type of shoes will help prevent unnecessary aches, pains and injuries, and will guarantee a more comfortable experience when walking or running.
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