We, as Physical Therapists, are frequently asked questions about which sneaker is the best for running, lifting, life, etc. Once we narrow down the use, we still get questions about which one of the thousands of sneakers on the market is the “best.” Let us start with, if you’re going to run, choose a running sneaker; if you’re going to play tennis, choose a tennis sneaker; etc. Sneaker companies have done a great job of making sport-specific sneakers, so just stick with that.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s get down to business. There is a very big difference amongst sneakers based on the mechanics of each individual person’s foot. If you’re looking for a sneaker for a high-impact sport, buying the right sneaker for your foot mechanics is pivotal, as the ground reaction forces of impact sports travel up your leg and can affect your entire body. While seeing a physical therapist or podiatrist will be the best way to learn your foot, there are a few assessments that you can make on your own to help you choose a sneaker.
- Do you have a high arch, does your arch sit close to the floor, or does it look pretty average?
- Is your foot rigid and inflexible, or does it feel pretty mobile?
- Do you have a history of ankle sprains or not?
- Looking at your other shoes, can you tell what part of the shoe you wear down most?
Generally speaking, you want to choose an amount of arch support that generally matches your arch height; if you have a rigid inflexible high arch, you’d want a more rigid and high arch support to give your foot the support it needs while you’re performing an activity. If you have a tendency towards ankle sprains, you’d want to choose a more rigid upper – the knit shoes are cool, but don’t offer a ton of support to your foot. If you wear down the inner part of the sole, you likely pronate, meaning you would want a nice supportive arch; if you wear down the outside of the sole, you may supinate, which means you’d want a little more give in the arch.
This is a ton of information to process, but just do your best to get to know your foot and find a knowledgeable running/sneaker store who can help you navigate the massive market!