How do you know if the shoes you’re running in are right for your feet? Some runners look for bargains, others for fashion or style. Too few understand that buying a pair of high-performance sports shoes is more than meets the eye.

Here are some do’s and don’ts for buying sports shoes. These directives apply to running, tennis, cross-training and aerobic models:

DO’S

  1. Inspect both shoes for defects in workmanship (i.e., place the shoe on a flat surface and view the shoe from behind. Make sure the upper part of the shoe is aligned with the lower part and not tilted excessively inwardly or outwardly. Inspect all seams).
  2. Always buy your shoes at the end of the day when your feet are most swollen, and with the sock or footcovering that you wear for your sport.
  3. Allow for the spread and elongation of the foot natural to sport: Leave a thumbnail’s width or one-quarter inch of room between the end of the shoe and your longest toe.
  4. Try both shoes on and walk or jog round the store until you’re satisfied with the fit, comfort and ability to absorb shock. Always fit the larger foot, the smaller foot can be accommodated by the use of an extra innersole in the shoe. Try on a variety of brands and models to find the ones that fit you best.
  5. Choosethe proper shoe for your sport.
  6. Insure that the shoe does not slip in the heel or gap in the arch when snugly tied. The widest part of the foot — the ball — should be the widest part of the shoe.
  7. Purchase new performance shoes after 3-6 months of active wear (based on 5 to 10 hours a week of sports activity). Loss of cushioning through midsole wear occurs long before the outsole or upper wear out.
  8. Find a reputable and reliable performance shoe store and a knowledgable salesperson.

DON’TS

  1. Resole or retread old shoes. Cushioning will wear out long before the outsoles show wear. Even if you also replace the midsole and outsole, resoling is not effective since stability in the upper is compromised and may not be addressed by the resoling process.
  2. Blame the shoe if you have multiple injuries. Often people buy two, three or four pairs of shoes because of a series of injuries. If two different pairs of good shoes are causing problems consult a sports doctor (a podiatrist, physician or orthopedist) and find the cause of the problem.
  3. Buy a shoe based on brand name or price alone. Each manufacturer has a line of shoegear. Don’t assume that every model in the line is adequate for your needs. Lower priced models look like a bargain but can end up costing you more by wearing out faster or causing injuries.
  4. Purchase shoes from a mail-order catalogue unless you have worn the exact same brand and model before. Shoe sizes vary greatly from one manufacturer to another and even within models from the same manufacturer. Thus the marked size may have little to do with the actual size.
  5. Change shoe models or brands based on claims made by manufacturers, salespersons, or friends. Change only if a shoe has caused injury or is no longer available.
  6. Purchase a shoe unless it is comfortable in the store. The adage that the shoe will stretch and feel better is seldom true. Most often the shoe ends up compressing the foot and leads to injury. Some models come in special width sizing; this can help with fit and comfort, especially for hard-to-fit feet.

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