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Find the Perfect Workout Shoe for You

Meet Your Sole Mate
  -- By Nicole Nichols, Certified Personal Trainer
Your feet work hard every day, carrying you through your daily tasks while you walk, stand, carry, lift, climb, clean, work, and exercise. If you neglect your feet—especially during a workout—then your feet with have to deal with swelling, blisters, and lasting discomfort on top of everything else.

One of the best ways to care for your feet is to invest in a good pair of workout shoes. There is nothing worse than trying to work out when you're experiencing pain and risking possible injury. To improve your workouts, look for a high-quality shoe with a good fit that is made to support the activities you do.

Although most people buy running shoes even if they have never jogged, the shoes you buy should be specific to the activity that you will be using them for. Finding the Best Running or Walking Shoe
When you get fitted for a new pair of running or walking shoes, go to the experts at a sporting goods store, running store, or even a podiatrist. Ask the expert of your choice to help you evaluate the arch of your foot, of which there are three main types:
  1. Flat-footed folks have low arches and feet that tend to roll inward as you run or walk. Look for a shoe that offers more stability.
  2. High arches often cause the feet to roll outward when walking. Look for a cushioned shoe with greater flexibility to help absorb shock more effectively. Insoles, inserted inside your shoes, can also help to support heels and arches. They can be bought separately by shoe size and needs.
  3. "Normal" arches don't fit into either extreme. Most shoes are made to fit these types.
Additionally, there are three different types of pronation. Pronation, the way that your foot moves after striking the ground (often with the heel and ankle rolling inward for balance) is a normal movement.
  1. Overpronation occurs when the foot rolls excessively inward, which can lead to muscle strains in both your legs and feet. Overpronators also tend to have low arches. Look for "stability" or "motion control" shoes, which are less flexible, have a thicker heel and help decrease excessive pronation.
  2. Underpronation (supination) describes feet that roll outward when running or walking. Underpronators tend to have high arches or "pigeon-toes." Look for shoes with extra cushioning to help absorb the added impact on your foot strikes.
  3. Normal pronation is most common, where the foot pronates normally, but not excessively. Look for stability shoes, which are more flexible than motion control shoes but still have good support.

Arch type and pronation are important when purchasing traditional running shoes.  If you decide to take the minimalist route, arch and pronation aren’t as important, but there are different shoes to choose from depending on the terrain (road or treadmill versus trail.)  Minimalist shoes force the muscles in your feet to work harder, so it’s important to gradually increase your mileage in these types of shoes.  <pagebreak>

Additional Shoe Shopping Tips This article has been reviewed and approved by Jen Mueller, personal trainer and marathon runner.