PD_7_ss07009The right pair of athletic shoes can be a simple, but vital tool to prevent injuries and keep you comfortable. Unfortunately, athletic shoe shopping can be confusing and sometimes even intimidating. Here are some fast facts you need to know before you head to the store.

Wearing the right athletic shoe may enhance your performance and provide the comfort and support you need to enjoy staying active. It is also important to help you:

Avoid Developing Foot Problems

On average, walking brings a force equal to several hundred tons on your feet each day and this increases significantly with sports. The proper fit and shoe for your activity help protect your feet from ailments that can develop over time. Common foot problems that may be associated with poor footwear include:

  • Blisters—fluid-filled bump on the skin
  • Bunions—swollen, sore bump from displacement of the joint that connects your big toe to your foot
  • Calluses—abnormal thickening of the top layer of skin
  • Corns—small, thickened area of skin that forms on the toes
  • Hammertoes—a toe that tends to remain bent at the middle joint in a claw-like position

The wrong athletic shoes will also increase the risk of injury, which can sideline your activity plans for a long time.

Minimize Risk of Injury or Chronic Ailment

Your feet are subject to more injury than any other part of your body. Some foot problems can be the result of repetitive stress. Improper or poorly fitting shoes can also be a contributing factor for:

  • Plantar fasciitis—the plantar fascia, a supportive, fibrous band of tissue running from the heel to the ball of the foot, is injured, resulting in pain on the bottom of the foot
  • Stress fractures—tiny cracks in your bones that develop when the repetitive impact of jogging or running overcomes the ability of the foot bones to withstand this stress
  • Heel spurs—calcium deposits that form where the plantar fascia connects to your heel bone
  • Sesamoiditis—tenderness or inflammation at the sesamoid bones, accessory bones found beneath the large first metatarsal bone in the ball of the foot
  • Extra stress on the ankles, knees, hips, and spine, which can lead to pain and disability

The next step may be a little more work at first, but remember that it will be worth it in the end. When possible, shop at a store that caters to the sport in which you participate. They have the most knowledge and will make it worth your time.