Function, Fashion & Fit: Tips on Finding the Right Athletic Shoe

on April 15, 2018

When I was young, before school would start, each year my mom and I would go shoe shopping.  We would pick out my new “school shoes” and one pair usually saw me though the year.  They were the first examples of “cross trainers”, serving as basketball shoes, running shoes, hiking boots, and loafers all wrapped up in one pair of poorly tied tennis shoes. Back then I usually picked my shoes based on a color or a certain brand that I liked.  Today, we need to be more thorough with our shoe shopping decisions.  Questions: what’s the intended purpose, price, quality, and style?  The following are some things to keep in mind when you go shoe shopping.

  • Don’t be afraid to test drive: Sometimes it is hard to predict if a shoe is going to work for your intended purpose.  Try them out for a couple of days or a couple of workouts.  Most shoe stores are really good about taking back shoes that aren’t right for you.  Be sure to ask the store for their policy first though.
  • Size matters: Everyone knows what size of shoe they wear, but never assume that you will always wear the same size.  Shoe sizes vary from style to style or from brand to brand.  It’s also a good practice to try shoes on in a store, even if you purchase that same shoe online.
  • Wear Socks: Thick or thin, make sure to wear the socks that you intend to wear with the shoes you are trying on.
  • Afternoons are best: Feet have been proven to flatten and swell throughout the day.  Shoes that were tried on in the morning and were comfortable, can be confining by the afternoon.
  • Bigger is sometimes better, with running shoes: It has been shown that your feet can expand by up to half an inch when running long distances.  Make sure that your toes have some wiggle room.  If they are jammed up against the front or the sides… the shoe doesn’t fit.


Ultimately, don’t sweat the details.  Most of us don’t need the highest priced shoes that have all the newest gadgets.  Pay attention to comfort and find a brand and style that work for you and stick with them.  At up to $200 per pair, shoes represent a fairly large investment.  Don’t be forced into wearing something that is uncomfortable or isn’t right for you just because you’ve been told to.

Listen to your feet and they will take you far.

-Ethan Opdahl, Fitness Health Coach


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