Choosing shoes for your New Year’s Fitness Goals

  • Evaluate your old tennis shoes BEFORE you start! Generally, for an active person, I recommend new tennis shoes every 9-12 months (or 350-400miles). If you are planning to start your new fitness routine using those 5-year-old shoes that you also use for gardening, do yourself a favor and get some new shoes. For most fitness activities, walking or running, you do not want to use worn out shoes that fold and twist.

The easiest way to check your shoes for this is to place one hand under the middle section of the shoe and one hand at the toes. Step one: while keeping the middle shoe straight, bend the toe section up towards the rest of the shoe. If this easily flexes backwards (or even touches the top of the shoe), you’re not getting enough support. Step two: while keeping the middle shoe stiff, try to roll the forefoot toe area of the shoe like you would a rolling pin. Again, if this is performed easily without much resistance, you will not get enough support from these shoes. Not enough support leads to tendinitis and shin splints, which can be discouraging if you are new to a fitness routine.

  • Don’t assume one pair of shoes is good for everything. Walking shoes are stiffer than Running shoes and for good reason. The demands on your feet are different whether you are walking or running, so make sure you plan for whatever type of activity you have committed yourself to doing.
  • You SHOULD NOT have to “break shoes in”. This is a common misconception among most people. Athletic shoes should feel comfortable right away.
  • When trying on shoes, if you wear orthotics, bring them with you. Also, you should bring your own socks. This will give you a true feel for the shoes as they will fit your feet
  • Measuring fit: The “rule of thumb” that you should have one thumb width (or two finger widths) between your big toe and the tip of the shoe needs to be used only when you are STANDING in the shoes and should be measured from your longest toe (which for some people, may be their second toe). This is important because our feet slide forward each time we step forward, even more so when running. So, to avoid damage and discoloration to toenails, make sure your toes have enough room.
  • Also, your heel should fit snuggly without slipping when you walk. This will prevent painful blisters on the back of the heel.
  • Buy your shoes at the end of the day. Our feet swell as the day progresses and you need to get the proper size shoe to accommodate this size change.
  • If you have flat feet, high arches, or a history of heel or foot pain/fatigue, you likely need to be evaluated by a podiatrist to determine what type of shoes you need. Every good brand of athletic shoe has different models that accommodate for various biomechanical issues, which is something a podiatrist can help you with.