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Foot Health: Selecting The Right Athletic Shoe

Summer offers us a variety of sports and activities. From running to aerobics, the feet bear much of the burden for carrying out these summertime activities, and selecting the right footwear is critical to foot health and performance.

"Feet are made to bear tremendous pressure," says Philip Radovic, DPM, an Orange County podiatric surgeon and member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. "An average day of walking brings a force equal to several hundred tons to bear on the feet. Weight bearing sports like running and aerobics put even more pressure on the feet and ankles."

According to Dr. Radovic, selecting the right athletic footgear is important to the overall health of the feet. Depending on your sport of choice there is a shoe to meet your foot care needs.

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Selecting the Right Athletic Shoe


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"It's a good idea to use the correct shoe for each sport," he says. "For example, a running shoe is built to accommodate the impact that concentrates on the forefoot, while a tennis shoe is made to give relatively more support to the ankles, and permit sudden stops and turns."

Dr. Radovic provides a rundown of sports and recommended shoe type:

Tennis: Proper tennis shoes "give" enough to allow for side-to-side sliding. In addition, tennis shoes need to have padded toe boxes to prevent injuries.

Cycling: Select a cycling-specific shoe that is right for you among models designed for racing and mountain biking. The casual rider without known foot problems can use cross training shoes (i.e. combination cycling hiking shoes), which provide the necessary support across the arch and instep in a shoe as well as the heel lift that cycling shoes give.

Golf: No longer driven by fashion, today's golf shoes are constructed using basic principles of athletic footwear. Advanced technological innovations keep golf shoes light and add strength.

Running: A good pair of running shoes is the most important piece of equipment for a runner. Shoe choice should be determined by weight, foot structure, and running regimen. Keep in mind that all shoes have a different shape, and sizes are not uniform from shoe to shoe. It's a good idea for a beginning runner to see a foot care specialist before starting a running regime.

Children's Athletic Shoes: It's not the brand name or price tag of an athletic shoe that makes the difference in a child's foot health. Foot care specialists agree it's often better to buy a child two pairs of less expensive shoes than a single expensive pair. The reason that two pairs are better than one is so the shoes can be rotated, to avoid rapid wear deterioration. Excessive wearing of the out-sole, loss of shoe counter support, or wearing out in the mid-sole indicate it's time to replace the shoes. Proper fit is key.

"If you have a preexisting foot condition, your foot care specialist can make recommendations for appropriate shoes," says Dr. Radovic.

According to Dr.Radovic, comfort, fit and support are the key drivers in selecting shoes and recommends these general shoe buying tips:

* Have your feet measured while you're standing
* Always try on both shoes, and walk in the shoes before buying them
* Buy for the larger foot; feet are rarely the same size
* Shoes should feel comfortable immediately, not needing a break-in period
* Shop for shoes later in the day; feet swell during the day
* Be sure that the widest part of your foot corresponds to the widest part of the shoe
* Try on shoes while you're wearing the same type of sock you'll be wearing with the shoe
* Because children's feet are constantly growing, allow at least one finger's width from the end of the longest toe when buying shoes

For more information about the feet, contact Dr. Radovic's office at (949)493-8020.



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*Diplomate American Board of Podiatric Surgery