Secrets to Buying the Perfect Athletic Shoes for You

Two young men running outside on a path.
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If you've been thinking about getting into better shape by walking, you're just steps away from finding the perfect pair. We asked David Cassidy, athletic trainer, from AdventHealth Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation, on what he and his team of exercise physiologists and athletic trainers consider when they're looking for a new pair of kicks.

Here's what they had to offer: 

Start off on the right foot. Look for a shoe that's lightweight and breathable.

Measure, measure, measure. You may wear a size 8, but your feet grow over time. And, size differs by brand because of many factors:  different foot forms, stitching, etc. So always be measured before you make your final decision.

Wear your own socks. Bring what you'll wear when exercising so you know whether they'll impact the shoe size you buy.

Flex appeal. Shoes should move with your foot. Test them by bending the shoes toe toward the heel. It should bend at the ball of the foot, where your foot naturally bends. If not, move on.

No need for break-in. New materials mean shoes no longer have long break-in periods so they should be comfortable from the starting gate.

Know when to replace. While there's no set number of miles or days when it comes to replacing your shoes, shoe support typically lasts about 6 months with average use. Wearing them daily, as well as wearing them in the rain, decreases the life of the sole.

No slippage allowed. Your foot should be securely locked into the shoe. The heel counter, where your heel sits, should be firm. If you hit the ground with your heel first, make sure there's plenty of heel padding to absorb the impact.

Shop at the time you'll be walking or running. If you walk or run in the morning, get fitted then. Or go after your normal walk or run. Your feet change size during the day as well as how long you run, so this will give you a better fit.

Leave yourself some wiggle room. You want at least a half inch or one fingers width length between your toe and the end of the shoe when you stand up. Be sure you can wiggle your toes.

Arch support. Wet one foot and stand on a paper towel or brown paper bag. Trace the outline with a pencil and take to your local running store, where a specialist can match your foot arch with the right shoe. Find a store that goes further and offers gait analysis.

Know your terrain. Consider where you're going to use the shoes the most: at the gym, on pavement, walking on trails, or just around town.

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