First off, sneaker shopping isn’t bathing suit shopping, and while we’d probably choose anything over bathing suit shopping, trying on shoes is significantly less traumatizing than trying on a bikini. (Unless you’re self-conscious about your feet, in which case, you have the perfect excuse for a pedicure!)
Then there’s the fact that sneakers come in so many shapes, sizes and colors these days that the sneaker shopping experience feels more like taking a trip to the candy store and less like buying your weapon of choice for killing yourself at the gym later – which is far more accurate…but still.
With so many options to choose from, though, where do you even start? With the help of the shoe experts at Rapid Transit Sports, Valley has your step-by-step guide for finding your perfect pair:
What do you plan on using them for?
Brock Rider, manager at Rapid Transit says this is the first question he asks customers who come into the store.
If you’re planning on using your shoes for running or walking, you’re going to want a shoe that is designed for forward motion instead of a cross-training shoe (for Zumba or an aerobic workout class), which is made for lateral motion.
“For cross-trainers, you’re looking for more ankle support and a flatter bottom, whereas running shoes have more arch support,” says Rider.
What type of support do you want?
In order to get the right kind of support, Rider recommends you always try on the shoe and practice the motion you plan on using the shoe for. Everyone’s foot structure is different and the way you walk or run should weigh heavily on your shoe choice.
“If someone drives inward with their toes, they need more arch support – that’s generally the result of a flat foot,” says Rider. “If someone has a high arch and they tend to walk on the outside of their foot, generally you need a softer, more neutral shoe.”
Leg structure can play a part in the way you walk as well, knock-kneed people generally tending to roll in more, whereas people who are bow-legged tend to walk on the outside of their feet.
What’s your budget?
“The different brands are shaped differently, but each brand has a variety of different arch support levels,” says Rider.
When it comes to buying a new sneaker, most of us look for a cute color and our favorite brand, but if you’re looking for a pair that will last, you should make sure you get the fit your body needs.
Nike shoes have been flying off the shelves lately, but Rider cautions that their light and flexible build isn’t for everyone.
“We do see, not just with the Nike, but with any shoe that’s soft, the problem of not having enough support and then people tend to roll inward, causing shin-splints, knee pain, back pain,” Rider points out. “The pain works its way up as it continues to get worse.”
When it comes to getting the most out of your workout, finding durable footwear that fits you should take priority over trends and price any day.
“Cheaper shoes are just going to break down faster,” says Rider.
Just remember, spending the time and money on finding the right pair of sneakers will pay you back in the long run with a healthier body and happier feet.