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Find the Right Exercise Shoe

Fitness for mind and body.

When it comes to shoes for exercise, the choices are overwhelming. But the bottom-line is simple: Shoes should fit well and be comfortable. The right shoes offer both support and flexibility precisely where you need it. In addition, they protect your bones, joints, and muscles--from the toes to the top, keeping your feet in healthy positions and absorbing shock.

Exercise Shoe

Before you buy a new pair of running shoes, check the soles of your worn-out pair. If the outer edge of the heel is worn, your running style is to roll your feet outward. If the inner edge is worn, you roll your feet inward. Take the old pair to the store and ask a knowledgeable salesperson what kind of shoe suits your style best.

Walking shoes are the most rigid and durable. But even for walking, many people prefer running shoes. Running shoes provide plenty of cushioning, which can feel good to walkers. If you have high arches in your feet, running shoes may be better because of the extra flexibility in the front (toe) half of the shoe.

Tips for Runners

If you have low arches, look for hefty arch support and a fairly straight cut along the inside edge of the sole. If you have high arches, look for tame arch support and greater curve along the inside edge.

Running shoes are geared for heel-to-toe movement. Shoes designed for tennis and related sports offer maximum support from side-to-side. If you engage in a variety of athletic activities, you may be looking for a pair of cross-training or general purpose athletic shoes. However, some general guidelines apply to all shoe shopping:

Shop for shoes in the afternoon, when your feet are at maximum size. (They swell during the day). Wear the socks you normally wear with athletic shoes to assure the right fit.

Try on both shoes. Most people's feet vary a bit in size from each other, so you should be sure the shoes fit your largest foot comfortably.

Check for space at the end of your longest toe. There should be enough to let you move without pinching. Some experts recommend the length of a thumbnail.

If you're a woman and your feet are wide, try men's shoes. These are usually cut wider. To find a size for starters, start with your own size, and subtract two.

Move around in the shoes, and insist that they feel like a perfect fit right away. If they don't, keep looking.

Use the "feel" test for any high-tech gimmicks. Some may help. Some may be hype. Your feet will know! Don't shop by price alone, but do look for materials that breathe and good workmanship. Replace running shoes after 500 miles, walking shoes after 1,000 miles, and aerobics shoes after about a year of regular use.

If your cotton socks are lined with terry cloth, wear them inside out to reduce friction and help prevent blisters. Smearing petroleum jelly on your feet before running also helps. Rub it on your inner thighs to keep your legs from chafing.

If you find jogging too jarring, try walking briskly on a regular schedule, Walking briskly gives you comparable benefits. Start moderately: Walk a mile in 15 to 20 minutes five times a week. Gradually increase distance and time over the next few weeks.

Jeopardy of Jogging

Every form of exercise has its risks, but jogging may be the only one in which buzzards pose a health hazard.

According to a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine, 12 joggers in Switzerland were attacked by European buzzards in a 2-year period. Such behavior seems to be a threat only during breeding season, when the birds protect their nesting – but there are plenty of less dramatic year-round dangers that joggers face. Consult a doctor before you start jobbing, and take these precautions to avoid injuries.

  • Wear running shoes with thick, flexible soles or use shoe inserts, especially if you have flat feet or high arches. Replace shoes every 500 to 800 miles.
  • Run on a resilient surface, such as grass, wood or asphalt to prevent shin splints, an inflammation of the tissues in the front of the lower legs.
  • Strengthen the muscles in the calves and in the front and back of the thighs to prevent runners knee, a painful stiffening of the area around the kneecap.
  • Stretch the muscles and tendons in the backs of the legs to prevent Achilles tendinitis, an excruciating inflammation of the heel cord.
  • Avoid excessive running to prevent stress fractures, slight cracks that form in the ones of the foot or lower leg.

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Disclaimer: The material on this Web site is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or fitness professional. Please consult with your physician before beginning any fitness program or fat or weight reduction program. FitnessandFreebies.com takes no responsibility for individual results, or any claim made by a third party.