Choosing the right Athletic Shoes – expert advice from Dr. Ashley Lee

28 Sep 2020 Blog, Podiatrist
This article was recently featured in the Lisa D Yoga Fit Newsletter, to learn more visit https://www.lisadyogafit.com/ & we wanted to share the insights to our audience as well.

We hope you find it to be a valuable resource.

I love having a doctor in class + when I wanted to highlight how you can best equip your feet for a workout – Ashley agreed to share her expertise as a foot + ankle surgeon (thanks again, Ashley!). Many of us love a good-looking gym shoe (guilty as charged!) but providing support, stability + getting the right fit is more important + will help us prevent injuries as we workout well into our 80’s like RBG!

Check out Ashley’s top tips on finding the right shoes for your feet:

1. Get measured. Our feet expand (not grow:)) as we age, so don’t forget to get them measured periodically.

2. Know your foot type. Don’t go for the trendy shoes until you are familiar with your foot type. Generally, foot type falls into 3 categories: Neutral, over-pronators (feet turn inward), and over-supinator (feet turn outward). Most people fall into neutral or overpronation foot type. Relying on the wear pattern of the shoe is not always (but can be) an indication of what foot type you are, so if you are unclear, have a gait analysis or visit a specialist.

3. Try on shoes later in the day, as your feet swell as the day progresses. When trying shoes on, your toes should be able to wiggle. Generally, you should have a 1/2 inch between your toes and the end of the shoe.

4. Gym shoes should feel good from the start. There is no “breaking in period”, however, if you are trying a different shoe than you are used to (zero gravity shoe, less cushioned shoe, etc.), you should ease them into your activity.

5. Replace shoes regularly. Generally, runners can log their miles and know when to change their shoes (usually between 400-500 miles). However, for other active non-runners, 9-12 months is average for replacement. Signs that it is time to replace a shoe – look at wear patterns on the sole. If any layer is worn through or if the wear pattern is uneven on one side more than the other, especially the heel, it’s time to replace it. I also tell my patients if you start to feel regular pain when exercising, like shin splints, hip pain, or knee pain, start first by changing your shoes. Shoes wear at different rates, so even after a short period of time, a shoe may wear. Shoes also have “shelf lives”. The inner cushioned layer can harden and the glue that holds a shoe together can weaken. For this reason, always buy the latest model. I love discount stores, but they are not places to buy your workout shoes, as often you’ll find the older models there. 

6. If you have bunions, hammertoes, or other foot deformities, make sure you have enough room in the toe box and avoid shoes with “leather” designs intertwined in the mess. Often these designs hit right at a bony prominence and can irritate a previously non-painful foot deformity. For those that do have bunions or hammertoes, an all-mesh toe box is better. 

7. The most important thing to know and the most common question I get asked…There is no “perfect” shoe for everyone. What may work for your favorite HIIT instructor 🙂 may not work for you. Everyone’s foot is different, therefore trying on several pairs and finding the ones that feel best on you is essential. Shoe models also change. Just because one year a brand doesn’t feel perfect on you, doesn’t mean that their next year’s model won’t either. 


For more information please call 847.639.5800.

Dr. Lee has hours at the following locations:
Monday – Hinsdale –  8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Wednesday – Hinsdale – 8:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Thursday – Hinsdale – 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

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