10/15/2012 08:18 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How To Find The Right Sneakers

By Rozalynn S. Frazier

Shopping for sneakers has become a bit of an exercise in endurance. You have to sort through so many kinds -- runners, walkers, trail shoes, cross-trainers, the ones with individual toes -- it's hard to tell what you do and don't need.

"Shoes have gotten more sport-specific, with specialized materials, components, fabrications and technologies to help you fine-tune performance," notes Lisa Halbower-Fenton, a footwear development and testing consultant in Boston. But does that mean you need a pair for every different sport you take on? "In general, if you do one type of activity at least twice a week, yes," says Paul Langer, D.P.M., a podiatrist in Minneapolis, and author of Great Feet for Life.

Each shoe helps your foot adapt to the motion of that specific sport (you go side to side in tennis, for instance, but forward and back in running). Wearing the right sneaker can help lower your chances of injury, Langer adds.

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Some tips to keep in mind when you're on the hunt for athletic shoes:

  • Shop late in the day. Feet swell as the day goes on, reaching their largest size by nightfall.
  • Beware of online buys. E-shopping can be convenient, but keep in mind: Just because you bought a shoe last year doesn't mean this season's version will fit the same way. You're better off buying your athletic shoe where you can check the actual fit -- or at least trying it on somewhere before discount-shopping online.
  • Go a bit big. Workout shoes should be a little larger than your regular shoes. You want them to fit snugly along the back two-thirds of your foot, but have a little wiggle room in your toe area. And, for a truer fit, don't forget to try on sneakers with the socks you plan to work out in.

Still not sure which activity deserves a shoe of its own? Keep reading!

Find The Right Sneakers

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How To Find The Right Sneaker originally appeared on Health.com