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HEALTHY LIVING: Choosing the right shoe … and the left one!

You have made the decision to lead a healthier lifestyle. You have found the workout method that suits you. Now what? Take care of your feet! Wearing the correct shoe for the fitness plan you are going to follow will make a HUGE difference in success or simply sore feet.

Don’t cheap out on your shoes, not only will poorly designed footwear cause blisters and other foot problems, you could also end up with ankle problems, shin splints, and more.

Don’t make shoes multitask. Walking shoes are stiffer; running shoes are more flexible, with extra cushioning to handle greater impact. If you do both activities, get a pair for each one. Shoes for aerobic conditioning should be lightweight to prevent foot fatigue and have extra shock absorption in the sole beneath the ball of the foot (metatarsal area), where the most stress occurs. Cross-training shoes, or cross trainers, combines several features so that you can participate in more than one activity. A good cross trainer should have the flexibility in the forefoot you need for running combined with the lateral control necessary for aerobics or tennis.

The best designed shoes in the world will not do their job if they do not fit properly. Don’t go just by size. Have your feet measured. Visit the shoe store at the end of a workout when your feet are largest. Wear the socks you normally wear when working out. Fit the shoe to the largest foot. Make sure the shoe provides at least one thumb’s breadth of space from the longest toe to the end of the toe box. If you have bunions or hammertoes, find a shoe with a wide toe box. You should be able to fully extend your toes when you’re standing, and shoes should be comfortable from the moment you put them on. They will not stretch out. Women who have large or wide feet should consider buying men’s or boys’ shoes, which are cut wider for the same length.  Stop paying attention to the numbers and concentrate on the fit.  Don’t let vanity give you pinched toes.

If you work out several times a week, have two pairs to switch out. And finally, know when to replace worn shoes. A worn out shoe is not doing its job. Only use athletic shoes for exercising – avoid using your athletic shoes for everyday use. The more these shoes are used, the more wear and tear they will receive. Shoes used every day are also exposed to a higher level of foot moisture and bacteria, which causes them to break down faster. Rule of thumb is planning to replace them every 6 months.

Now, you have the information to put your best foot forward.  Stay healthy, my friends.

Contact Jody Holton with your questions, comments, or suggestions for future columns at jholton3@gt.rr.com