If the athletic shoe fits

Mon Jul 25, 2011 11:37am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Call them sneakers, trainers, athletic shoes or runners, sizing up the embarrassment of rubber-soled riches on offer these days can be a daunting task.

Experts say the right footwear can make or break your workout, but money will not necessarily buy insole happiness, nor will following the foot traffic to the latest, trendiest model.

"Your shoes are, from safety and comfort standpoint, the most important thing about your fitness," said Kevin Burns of the American Council on Exercise. "They are the most important success tool one can invest in."

But not all shoes fit all feet, or feats, according to Burns a Minnesota-based group fitness instructor for over 20 years.

"Newer shoes get most of marketing but may not be appropriate for you," he said. "If you've got a high arch you'll tend to require more shock absorption. I have weak ankles, so when I teach my shoes are high tops."

To find a shoe that suits your activities, fitness level and buying options, Burns said, try asking your personal trainer or exercise instructor for advice.

"Personal trainers and exercise instructors have tried and tested a number of shoes over their careers," he explained. "A sales person might be more interested in up selling you."

Cross trainers, the jack-of-all-trades of fitness footwear, are good general purpose shoes for those who vary their workouts, Burns said. But if you regularly engage in a specific activity, such as running, tennis, aerobics or basketball, choose a shoe designed specifically for that sport.   Continued...

<p>Moroccan woman Olympic athlete Hassna Benhassi stretches during a training session at a sport complex in Ifrane in this picture taken May 7, 2008. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante</p>