Style... brand... price? What do you shop for in athletic shoes? Experts say at the 'sole' of many women's aches and pains is bad footwear.

"We see patients all the time wearing inappropriate shoes for the activity," says Christian Royer, M.D., orthopaedic surgeon specializing in foot and ankle surgery on the medical staff at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.

Runners wearing tennis shoes, tennis players wearing cross trainers, it's one major mistake say experts. Another big problem is buying too small.

"People don't realize that their shoe size changes over time and that their foot can get bigger and wider as time goes on," says Dr. Royer. "And most people haven't had their foot measured in years."

Dr. Royer says that your foot can not only grow through the years, but throughout the day as well. Because of normal swelling, the afternoon is the best time to shop, and don't forget to take a test-run before you buy.

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"Don't believe in the myth of breaking the shoe in," advises Dr. Royer. "If the shoe doesn't feel good in the store, no matter how good it looks, you need to get a different shoe."

The common misstep is simply not shopping often enough.

"One of the big problems we see with runners is that they run past the life of their shoe," says Dr. Royer. "A general rule of thumb, and it doesn't apply exactly the same to every shoe, is 300-400 miles on a running shoe or 300 hours of activity in that athletic shoe."

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Another tip is to take your own athletic socks when trying on shoes to get a true fit. Experts also suggest that when it comes to shoes, you do often get what you pay for. Don't be afraid to dish out a few extra bucks for comfort.


Baylor Health Care System