Shoes and exercise: Putting your best foot forward

Buy shoes that serve the purpose

If you are a walker then go for walking shoes. Running shoes provide plenty of cushioning, and can benefit walkers as well. In fact, if you have high arches in your feet, running shoes may even be better because of their extra flexibility in the front (toe) half of the shoe.

Running shoes are also geared for heel-to-toe movement. If you engage in a variety of athletic activities, you should go for a pair of cross-training or general purpose athletic shoes.

Purchasing the right shoe will decrease the chance of getting injured. While a walker will have no problem wear a running shoe, the reverse is not true.
o Shoes worn for running need to have more cushioning to absorb shock on the joints and bones.
§ This will also reduce blisters from rubbing.
o Whereas walking shoes are stiff, running shoes have more flexibility, to accommodate the rapid transition from heel to toe.
o Running shoes are not as heavy as walking shoes.
o Likewise, basketball shoes should have more ankle support, for landing from a jump.
o Tennis shoes should have a durable sole that grips the court well.
o Cross trainers are designed with a combination of these features:
§ Forefoot flexibility
§ Lateral support
§ Maximum traction

Points to ponder:
1. When shopping for footwear, try them at the end of the day. Feet are known to expand to their maximum by the end of the day. Wear a pair of socks of similar thickness as you would want to wear with the new pair of shoes while buying them.

2. Recognize your foot type

If you have high-arched feet, you would need a highly cushioned shoe with maximum absorption. However, if your feet belong to the low-arched type, you would require shoes with better heel control and support.

Every execution of a move such as a stride or hop applies pressure on the feet when you land. An incorrect shoe for the activity can result in injuries. Injuries could also be due to under-pronation or overpronation of the foot.·

Overpronation occurs when your foot rolls too far inward during contact with the floor. Overpronation causes extra strain on the leg muscles and could cause irritation of structures around the knee region. Overpronators need shoes with devices built into the arch side of the shoe to stop your foot from rolling in too far.

Underpronation is when the foot does not roll in far enough; you tend to run/walk on the outer of your foot. It stresses the tendons and muscles on the outer side of the leg. Underpronators need good shock absorption and cushioned shoes.

Mileage for a shoe:
Running: 500 – 800 km, i.e. approximately a 5km run for 3 times per week in 9 months.

Walking: 1,600 km, i.e. approximately a 5km walk for 3 times per week in 2 years.

Aerobics: 100 hours, i.e. approximately a 1-hour aerobics class for 3 times per week in 8 months.

But what is important that you should use shoes that fit well and feel comfortable. The right shoes offer both support and flexibility where you need it. And, they protect your bones, joints, and muscles from the toes to the top, keeping your feet in healthy positions and absorbing shock.

Y. Ramakrishna.
The writer is a Sports Performance Enhancement Specialist

Image: Flickr Creative commons tachyondecay

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Diabetes: Foot Problems
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