How to Buy Sports Shoes

John A. Brandeisky, DPM, FACFS

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Dr. John Brandeisky

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Here are tips from the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons on buying athletic shoes:

  • For comfort and injury protection, children should wear shoes designed specifically for the demands of their particular sport.
  • When fitting shoes, there should be a thumb's width from the tip of the child's toe to the end of the shoe, and the toes should have room to wiggle freely. The shoe's heel shouldn't slip off the foot as the child walks or runs.
  • If specific socks are part of a team uniform, wear those socks, or ones of the same thickness, when trying on shoes.
  • Buy good-quality shoes that have sufficient support and cushioning.
  • Know the type of arch your child's feet has -- high, medium, or low -- and buy the appropriate shoes.
  • Some children who have flat feet or pronate excessively may benefit from orthotic inserts.
  • Lacing is important. Lace through each top eyelet twice to ensure a snug fit and decrease slippage. Children shouldn't tie their laces too tight because it may injure the nerves or tendons on top of the foot and ankle.
  • Soccer shoes can cause heel pain in adolescents because the limited number of cleats in the shoe heel can put excessive pressure on the growth plate of the child's heel. Shoes with multiple cleats at the heel can help, but they can be difficult to find.
  • Shorter cleats on football and soccer shoes can reduce knee and ankle injuries.
  • Cross trainers are fine as a general athletic shoe.
  • Sports shoes should be replaced when they show signs of wear.

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