Tips on buying athletic shoes.

Friday, January 14, 2011 at 3:03 p.m.

It’s possible to put your best foot forward in any sport with the right footwear. Pete McCall, an exercise physiologist with the San Diego-based American Council on Exercise, offers some Shop Like the Pros tips for buying athletic shoes.

“Be honest about the activity you’re going to be doing. Shoes have become very specialized so it’s important to get a shoe that’s specifically designed for your activity,” said McCall, who most often wears Nike Free training shoes which retail for about $85.

Look for these qualities in a sport-specific shoe:

Walking shoes: Select a shoe with a lower heel (than a running shoe) and a low stable foot bed. The shoes should twist and bend at the forefoot, but not in the middle of the arch.

Running shoes: Runners need to have a raised heel to protect against impact. The sole should be flexible and bend at the ball of the foot, and the upper part should be made out of lightweight net or mesh.

Training shoes: Training shoes have multiple treads to perform various activities, with a broader toe cap and lower heel than a running shoe. Look for a mesh shoe with a flat foot bed and stability in the forefoot.

“Training shoes allow for more lateral movement than running shoes (which are made) for going forward,” said McCall, adding that wearing running shoes for lateral movement activities puts you at risk for ankle injuries.

Basketball shoes: Opt for high-tops for optimal support during jumping and leather uppers for lateral support.

Tennis shoes: These court shoes should be low to the ground and made out of leather for lateral support. There should be an ample toe protector and pivot points on the sole under the ball of foot.

Toning shoes: Don’t waste your money or time on the new rounded-sole toning shoes.

“We’ve done studies and there are no mechanical advantages to these shoes,” McCall said. “You’re better off in a shoe designed for walking.”

Some general athletic shoe shopping tips:

• If you’ve found a shoe that fits you and your sport well, checkout online vendors which may sell that same shoe for less money than brick-and-mortar stores, McCall suggests.

“You should be able to get a good quality shoe for between $50 and $85. There’s really no need to spend more than that,” he said.

• Shop by fit, not by size.

• Look for rule-of-thumb fit, with about a thumb’s width of space between the end of your big toe and the shoe.

• Try out the shoes in the store. Run, jump, pivot and kick in the shoes to see how they feel in action.

• Shoes should feel comfortable immediately.

• Stock up. If you find a pair of shoes that fit well, are comfortable and give you ample support for your sport, buy more.

“The companies are always changing or discontinuing shoe (models) so if you can afford it, buy two or three pair and put them in your closet until you need them,” McCall said.

Erics’ comments; 

My wife and I have gone to the Nike Free and Nike Tr line of cross trainers. They are true to your foot with a very natural feel and the cross trainers have plenty of lateral support with flywire, exclusive to Nike.

Eric Bravo is a Personal Trainer serving Whittier and the surrounding communities for more than eight years.

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