Ontario Podiatric Medical Association

Pick the Right Shoes For Comfort


Customers remain loyal to favorites

Nike says its Shox line, which features shoes for walking, running and cross-training on special "platforms," is designed to help shield the feet from pounding the pavement and the track.

The shoes retail for $100. For an extra $10, Nike lovers can visit www.nikeid.com to customize the women's Bella (running) and Energia (cross-training) models, choosing colors and personalized mottos to brighten their workouts.

Dr. Keith Kenter, a sports orthopedist at the University of Cincinnati, says he hasn't seen any research that shows the Shox shoes offer any extra benefit, "but they look really cool, don't they?"

Whatever shoe you choose, Kenter and other experts advise trying on several different brands to find the right fit.

"You'll be able to tell which one's right," he said.

Athletes who plan to stick to just one activity should choose sports-specific shoes, says Dr. Kristin Titko, a podiatrist with the Cincinnati Center for Foot Care.

Basketball shoes should support the ankles to help prevent sprains and twists. Tennis shoes should provide plenty of cushioning in the front toe area "so that when you're dragging your toe during the serve, you don't irritate the toe," Titko says.

Running shoes should fit well enough that the toes don't get irritated from rubbing against the shoe, she says. Runners whose shoes don't fit well are apt to see blood build up under the toe nails "as the toe gets jammed against the shoe and the nail gets lifted up and rips under the skin," Titko says. "It's painful, it's disgusting, and then your nail falls off and looks all nasty while it grows back."

Long-time runners find a shoe that fits and stick with it.

Steve Ludwig of West Chester Township is on his third pair of Asics Gel Kayanos. He likes the shoe's comfort and stability and the wider toe box. When Ludwig shops for running shoes, he looks for support (he has flat feet), lightweight construction, breathability (he likes an upper mesh for air flow) and, of course, price. The suggested retail price for Gel Kayanos is $135. "As wear begins to show on my current shoes, I start looking at the paper and try to catch a sale," he says. Instead of throwing away the old shoes, he uses them for everyday wear, eventually relegating them to what he wears for yard work.

Mary Jo McKibben looks for cushioning and long wear, and she refuses to pay more than $100 for running shoes. She likes Asics Gel Cumulus, which retail for $80. "The last thing I look for is style. The Gel-Cumulus changes style every few months, so you never know what you're going to get," the Springfield Township woman says. "My current pair are baby blue, and a previous pair were purple and silver. But as long as they are comfortable, I don't care."

Rachel Dawson of Hyde Park likes Nikes. "It's the only brand that fits my feet well," she says.

And marathoner Tom Quinlan of Hebron goes with a classic: The Nike Pegasus, which the company calls its "best-selling running shoe of all time."

"I heard a long time ago that if they fit well and work well for you and you don't have a lot of injuries, then you stick with them," Quinlan says. He estimates he's been wearing the Pegasus, which now retails for $80, for more than 20 years.

Titko advises trying out the kinds of moves you'll need to perform in the shoes when you're trying them on.

"Most importantly, the shoe has to be comfortable from the minute you put it on, because shoes don't stretch out; they wear out," she says.

Salespeople can help properly fit athletic shoes. Top-level athletes prone to foot or ankle injuries can also see sports medicine specialists like Kenter to see if the shoe is really the problem.

It's also important to replace your athletic shoes on a regular basis, Kenter says. Worn-out shoes hurt and can increase the risk of injury.


By Peggy O'Farrell
Enquirer staff writer

E-mail pofarrell@enquirer.com

September 6, 2004

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