Fitness gear: 4 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Athletic Shoes

There are countless things to consider when it comes to exercising and staying fit: nutrition, strength training, cardio, hydration and the list goes on. But have you ever considered what goes on at the very foundation of your body? A’hem… your feet? Runner or not, comfortable athletic shoes are one of the most important things you should invest in. They’ll prevent injuries, motivate the heck out of you, and keep you feeling comfy throughout your workouts.

If shopping for new athletic shoes is a new undertaking for you, here are a few things to consider when searching for your perfect sole-mate!

Get a gait analysis: Have you ever had your gait analyzed before? Gait analyses access how your body absorbs shock while walking or running. If you pronate (foot collapses in medially), you’ll need a “support” shoe to gently slow the rate of medial movement. If you have a neutral gait (foot is completely straight) or supinating gait (foot rolls out laterally), you’ll need a “neutral” shoe, which is soft and doesn’t have built-in correction. You can do this at home by doing shallow squats to see how your feet move under a little load. You can also journey into a local running/sporting goods store—they typically do free gait analyses.

The 1-thumb rule: Many people believe athletic shoes should fit as snug as a glove. That may be true for ballerinas, but not the rest of us! When you exercise, your feet swell! A lot! To avoid black toe-nails, premature holes in your shoes, or cramped feet you should aim for a thumb width of room between the end of the shoe and your toe. Your feet will give you a hearty “hallelujah” for doing so.

400-500 miles: Most running and walking shoes last about 300-400 miles. It’s a great idea to keep track of mileage and replace them regularly to avoid injuries and sore spots. If you start having new pains that you didn’t have before or if your shoes lack the pep they once had, it may be time for a good ol’ replacement!

Shoe Rotation: Shoe lovers, rejoice! You should have more than one athletic shoe in your collection. Why? Because shoes need recovery too! Shoe rotation allows the EVA foam (the soft cushioning in the shoe) to rest and re-expand when you’re not wearing them. This will result in a better experience and prolonged life for the shoe. Having multiple shoes (perhaps a lightweight and a highly cushioned pair) also promotes muscle confusion in your feet/legs which will inevitably promote stronger feet.

Next time you look down at your feet, ask yourself: when was the last time I replaced my athletic shoes? If the answer stumps you, it may be time to invest in a fresh pair. You’re worth it!