Whether you run casually on the weekend or play basketball in a competitive rec league, the shoes you wear make a big difference. 

Of course, your sneakers announce your style and give you a certain amount of street cred, but they can do far more than that.

When you choose sneakers that are appropriate for your feet and the activity you’re doing, your sneakers can also keep you healthier and help prevent common muscle injuries. It can also make it easier to avoid and manage muscle soreness.

Knowing how new technologies are being incorporated into today’s shoes can help you choose the right pair to keep you on your feet longer — and may help you add innovative shoes to your display collection as well.

The Importance of Good Form

One thing that research has shown is that shoes alone cannot prevent injury in running or other sports. You can’t rely on the cushioning in your shoes, for example, instead of working on proper form. 

If you play basketball, keeping your body in the right position and moving your feet correctly is just as important as having proper arch and ankle support. If you run, having the right motion and foot strike is as important as having excellent cushioning. 

The shoes you wear are certainly important, but it’s also vital to avoid muscle injuries using other strategies, including warm-ups, cool-downs, proper sleeping positions, and avoiding overexercise. 

Proper Cushioning

Cushioning in shoes reduces the effect of impact on your muscles and joints. The type of cushioning continues to evolve: today’s foams allow shoes to absorb impact without losing responsiveness, which helps runners go further.

It’s important to remember that there’s truly no “one size fits all” solution for runners and other athletes. The right cushioning and comfort for you will depend on your foot’s structure and the sport you pursue. 

So don’t just take your friend’s recommendation — instead, try on multiple shoe brands and see what feels best for you.

Getting Ankle Support

A lot of injuries boil down to having the wrong shoe for the activity. If you wear running shoes in order to go hiking or play basketball, for example, there won’t be anywhere near the amount of ankle support you need.

Shoes built for forward movement don’t have support in the right places to protect you during high lateral movement activities, and sports like basketball often benefit from higher-topped shoes that offer specific ankle support. 

If you’re shoe collecting, you choose shoes based on the look, brand, and color. But if you’re buying shoes for a specific activity, you may have to swallow your style a bit in order to get the shoes that are best for preventing injuries.

Get the Right Fit

What shoe size do you wear? Are you sure? 

The truth is that you might wear different sizes in different brands. You might even be wearing the wrong size in your favorite shoe if it’s been a while since you measured your feet. 

How do you know if it’s the wrong fit? Look for these signs: 

  • Bruises on your toes
  • Blisters
  • A stabbing pain in the heel (plantar fasciitis)
  • Stress fractures
  • Tendonitis 
  • Ankle and foot pain or discomfort

If you notice these problems, you may need a different size or even a different brand of shoe. Your unique physiology plays a big role in choosing the right sneaker to prevent injuries. 

Consider the Drop

The drop of a shoe, or pitch, is the difference between the thickness of the shoe at the ball of the foot and the heel. The heel is generally higher in most running shoes, with an average drop of 6-10mm to the ball of the foot.

However, the drop that’s right for you depends on your natural stride and the activity you’re doing. If you choose a drop that’s not well-suited for you, you’re more likely to have stress and injury on your muscles and tendons. 

For runners, a drop of 6mm or more is ideal for those whose heel hits the ground first, which is the majority of people. A lower drop, under 6mm, is better if the ball of your foot hits first. 

If you’re weight lifting, having zero drop (a completely level shoe) is best because it allows you to maintain proper form without your feet and legs being tipped forward unnaturally. It gives you the same posture you’d have barefoot. 

Stay Moving & Healthy Longer

As you get older, the body goes through a spat of changes. It helps to understand the physical effects of aging, which include changes that are more surface level, like skin and hair, as well as deeper changes. 

For example, injuries become more common because bones lose minerals and density and muscle mass decreases. Staying active can help you stay healthy, and having the right equipment can help make physical activity safer.

Choosing the right shoes is a big part of being able to keep moving longer without injury. Muscle strain is one of the three most common reasons for injury in sports, and with the right shoes, you can protect your muscles and joints. 

Whether you run, play basketball, lift weights, or participate in other sports, having the right shoes makes all the difference! 


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