09/03/2009 03:53 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Shoes: How to Choose What to Use

"If the shoe fits wear it," and "When the foot hits the ground, everything changes"! These are two important facts you need to know when you are buying athletic shoes to stay fit. There are many types of athletic surfaces available to work out on, depending on your activity. Tennis players play on hard clay and grass courts. Runners run on asphalt streets, concrete sidewalks, dirt, grass, on a track and hard or soft sand at the beach. Basketball players play on hardwood and concrete courts. Whatever sports activity you participate in, if your foot is not properly supported on these different types of surfaces and in the right type of shoe, your foot biomechanics will be thrown off. Ouch! Our feet begin to compensate during a run, a game of tennis or up and down the basketball court. This could cause poor foot placement during your stride. A shoe that provides stability and proper foot support, when running, will help eliminate potential lower leg and foot injuries. Remember, some feet are very unstable and no matter what shoe you are wearing your feet will need additional support to control that problem.

Running in the right athletic shoes will make exercising easier. The shoe should have enough room in the toe box so your toes will not get crowded when running which could lead to blisters and other foot irritations. There should be at least a thumb's width between the longest toe on your foot and the end of the toe box. Again if the shoe is comfortable, cushioned and supportive it should help avoid any type of potential foot injury. The right shoe will be more comfortable and more stable for your foot. It will allow your foot to function better because your foot is stable. Stable feet in stable shoes do not brake down as fast as unstable feet in any shoe.

Overuse injuries are the most common type of foot injuries that walk into a doctor's office. They occur more often in people who have unstable feet because the arch collapses during their activities. This will result in foot fatigue, cramping arches, plantar fasciitis and tendonitis. They are less likely to happen with people who have stable feet and a better foot structure.

Wearing the right shoe reduces the susceptibility of foot injuries. The shoe should have a ridged heel counter to prevent the heel from sliding, a solid midsole and outersole to reduce the impact load on the feet and shock to the body. Initially, stable, supportive and durable shoes will most likely keep a person who has foot problems or unstable feet injury free until the shoes begins to brake down.

Professionally made orthotics, as well as over the counter prefabricated orthotics, or instant arches are other options available to help keep your feet supported in your athletic shoes.

Doing the research and finding the best shoe for your foot will prevent potential foot injuries from occurring during exercise and keep your feet happy and out of the doctors' offices!