Volume 94, Issue 77

Thursday, February 8, 2001


Clarkson proves her mettle

Pursuing the right shoe for you

Balls, pucks and press

Pursuing the right shoe for you

By Joel Brown
Gazette Staff

Once upon a time a running shoe was simply a running shoe. As long as it had a durable upper and rubber sole, you were good to go.

But now the talk is all about spring-loaded soles, gels and other materials that seem more suitable for space travel than something that belongs on your foot.

When you combine all this new age technology with the hype shoe barons put on their new products, the average sneaker buyer can get really confused about what to look for in a new shoe.

"There's no such thing as the best shoe, it's what's the best shoe for you," said Kelly Harris, an assistant manager at the Running Room, an athletic apparel store in London.

Long gone are the days when it was acceptable to take heed from the 'Bo knows' campaign and use the same kicks for any sport from football to golf. Cross-trainers may be economical and convenient but they aren't necessarily good, she said.

Lauren Starr/Gazette

"There is a big difference because shoes nowadays are highly specific to each sport," Harris said. "A lot of people buy cross-trainers because they want a shoe that does everything and save money [in the process].

"But the thing is running shoes often have a lot more cushion than basketball shoes. If you use running shoes for squash or basketball they'll break down prematurely because they're not made with lateral strength. They're designed for one thing and one thing only, and that's to go forward.

"I say to people, if you can afford it, you should get different shoes for each sport that you participate in. Is it worth protecting your body for? I think so."

Another thing to remember when purchasing shoes is that it's not always what your shoe can do for you, it's what you can do for your shoe, she said.

"When you start running, you almost need better shoes than when you're fit because you muscles aren't strong yet," Harris said. "A lot of mistakes happen when a person is unfamiliar with the shoes associated with the sport they want to get into. Also, a lot don't know if they want to stay with the sport so they try to save money and go to [a department store]."

According to Harris, it is critical to take into account the degree of pronation an athlete produces in their movements. In English that's to what to extent the arch collapses when the foot rolls in. The better able you are to correct it, the less stress it takes off the foot.

Orthotics, an prescription shoe insert, are used by many high-level athletes to limit pronation.

If the right type of shoe isn't chosen, various forms of tendonitis can set in, which can affect performance and even put you on the bench for awhile.

"Most problems are around foot and ankle, mainly because of overuse," said Ned Amendola, an associate professor of surgery at Western. "Runners [sustain injuries] especially because they put so much abuse on their ankles."

Western's track and field head coach, Vickie Croley, said she believes when choosing a shoe that it is not only important to consider what sport you are playing, but what activities you will be performing.

"With regards to training you need a shoe that provides a lot of support, cushioning and is capable of enduring the pounding and jumping," she said.

The type of terrain you're performing on and weather condition you'll be participating in also needs to be taken into account.

So remember: Just because a shoe fits doesn't necessarily mean you should buy it. With all this in mind, you should have a lot running through your head the next time you step out to buy that new pair of shoes.

To Contact The Sports Department:

Copyright The Gazette 2000