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  • Writer's pictureHannah Foster-Middleton


Athletic shoes serve a different purpose than casual and dressy footwear, which is reflected in their design. Although composition varies by activity, all athletic shoes include more grips on the outsole, a midsole with cushioning and impact absorption, overlays for support, and a closer fit that moves with the athlete.

The goal is to give the runner or player a shoe that aligns with the activity’s motions without negatively impacting their performance or contributing to injury.

Yet, not all athletic shoes are created equal, and their strengths eventually lessen with excessive wear. As a result, athletes on every level have the potential to experience foot and ankle injuries. Learn more about the common reasons why this can occur.

Incorrect Shoe for the Sport

For example, runners have many footwear options, from going barefoot to wearing extra-padded shoes. Many related injuries, particularly rolled and sprained ankles, come down to one simple factor: The athlete is not wearing footwear designed for the sport.

Frequently, a shoe doesn’t provide the right level of ankle support. For instance, wearing cross-training shoes for basketball or hiking. Due to each activity’s demands, the lack of support in this area increases the risk of a twisted ankle. Other common scenarios include:

·         You require a forward-motion shoe to prevent a higher ankle strain and fatigue risk.

·         You require a shoe that allows for lateral movement, and, in these scenarios, a design built for forward movement doesn’t provide support in the right areas.

Insufficient Arch Support

Not all feet have the same shape. By default, athletic shoes are constructed with an arched footbed, which provides the average athlete with a modest amount of support.

Yet, this design may not provide the support needed to feel comfortable for individuals with pronated feet and increases the risk of developing flat feet. An athlete or runner should supplement their pair with orthotic inserts in these instances.

You Depend on the Padding

Padding is a critical component of most athletic shoes. It is designed to cushion the feet, absorb shock when you land, and reduce the potential for impact-related injuries. Unfortunately, most people take the padding for granted and assume it will remain protective no matter how hard they play or run.

As a result, some athletes may ignore form, and with time, the padding wears down and doesn’t offer the same degree of impact absorption.

Signs of Poorly Fitting Athletic Shoes

Your athletic shoes are not appropriately suited to your activity if you notice any of the following:

·         Bruised Toes: If the toe box is too tight, it can place more pressure directly on the toes. In extreme cases, this may cause an athlete to lose a toenail during the activity.

·         Blisters: Although your socks may be to blame, blisters can emerge when the shoe repeatedly rubs against your foot during an activity. This can occur when the shoe is too loose, too tight, or not suited to the appropriate motions.

·         Plantar Fasciitis: Generally, this condition emerges as a stabbing pain in the heel, often resulting from repeatedly slamming your feet against the ground. Athletes start to experience this sensation when their shoes don’t provide the right level of support for the activity or have experienced significant wear.

·         Stress Fractures: A combination of poor form and shoes that no longer provide sufficient shock absorption can lead to joint inflammation and stress fractures.

·         Tendonitis: When an athletic shoe doesn’t provide enough support, tendons around the outer edge of the foot or the ankle can become inflamed.

If you’ve been experiencing foot and ankle pain, poorly fitting athletic shoes could be the reason. Work with a physiotherapist to relieve your discomfort, learn proper form, and how to prevent future injuries.


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