Tips for Picking an Athletic Shoe

Jogging woman with athletic legs and running shoes. Female walki

Looking for some new athletic shoes for all your fun summer activities? The HSS Women’s Sports Medicine Center offers the following tips on picking the best one for you:

1. Go to a specialty running store. Running stores have the expertise to help you select the right shoe for your specific activity and foot type. Many of them even offer video analysis, so you can test a few different shoes out and then review their performance in slow motion, giving you a much better sense of their performance.

2. Try on athletic shoes at the end of the day when your foot may be slightly swollen. This will guarantee that the shoe fits well during physical activity when lots of blood flows to the feet.

3. Look for about a thumb’s width between your longest toe and the end of the shoe (1/4″ to 1/2″ of room between the inside of the toe box and your longest toe). The ball of your foot should match the widest part of the shoe. Even though the sides of your foot may be resting on the inside lining, you should still be able to wiggle or scrunch your foot without feeling constricted. If one foot is slightly longer then the other, always fit the longer foot. You can use inserts to improve the fit on the shorter shoe.

4. Wear the same weight of socks that you intend to use during physical activity – not dress socks or nylons. Socks with a high cotton content cause blisters more easily. Select socks that are a polyester-acrylic blend.

5. Make sure you try on both shoes in the pair and give them a “test drive” on a hard surface, not a carpeted floor. Run, jump or perform other movements that represent your sports activity. If you’re deciding between two pairs of shoes, wear one on each foot and move around to compare the feel.

Topics: Performance
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The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.


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  1. Thank you for these great tips! I know a many people – a lot of my close friends, unfortunately – who don’t bother trying on a pair of shoes before purchasing them. They just assume that they’re the same size for all brands.

    A great pair of walking/running shoes can really make a difference and hopefully more people take the time to find a proper fit instead of just assuming. Thanks again!