The right shoe goes a long way. This is especially important for older adults who need to keep moving, keep exercising to prevent certain conditions from setting in and to help treat others. Sometimes things like gout, bursitis, and pain in the feet, ankles, knees, and hips can curtail walking and other forms of fitness. Dealing with it all starts with your shoes and, if we polled a group of podiatrists, they would probably say that we don’t pay attention enough to our feet.
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The good news is that you don’t have to blow a pile of money on the right pair of shoes. One great study back in 2007 showed that the price of a pair of sneakers has no link to quality. More expensive brands are no better, and are perhaps even worse, than economical sneakers.
That study tested sneakers ranging from about $80.00 to $150.00. It found that low- and medium-priced sneakers provided at least the cushion that expensive models did. Participants found them all equally comfortable and were unaware of which were more expensive.
Let’s get to some great tips you can use to find the right sneaker:
1. Seek comfort first. A shoe shouldn’t be tight or need to be “broken in.” It should be comfortable right away.
2. Buy sneakers for a purpose. Shoes for running are more flexible and cushioned better than shoes for walking. Talk with the staff about what you activity you will be doing.
3. Figure out whether the arches of your feet are low, high, or flat. (Examine old shoes and see where they most worn.) Low arches need a full-support shoe; high arches require one with a soft midsole.
4. Shop late in the day, because your foot swells a little all day long. It also swells when exercising—thus, you want to see how your foot fits when it is swelled, so your shoes are comfortable at all times.
5. Do a thumb test: The space between your toes and the end of the shoe should be about the width of your thumb. It should be snug but with room to wiggle your toes.
6. Have your foot measured, as the size can change over the years. Don’t trust sizes; buy what fits.
7. Be cautious with very inexpensive shoes, as they may be poor quality.
8. In the store, bounce, jump, and move around in a way that mimics your activity level. See if the shoe maintains support throughout your range of motion.
9. Don’t be turned off by spacey-looking shoes, as advanced technology can make very comfortable, durable sneakers.
10. Once the back wears out of a sneaker, or it feels as though it’s lost support, shop for a new pair.