Put your best foot forward & kick winter blues away.

As the weather warms up and spring arrives, many of us are eager to embrace outdoor exercise. Gone are the days of icy roads and sidewalks making winter exercise uncomfortable; now is the time to take advantage of the great outdoors. No matter what type of exercise you prefer, be it a leisurely stroll or a high-intensity sprint, selecting the right shoe is essential for both protecting your feet and optimizing your performance. Read on for our best tips to find the perfect shoe for you.

First off, consider your type of foot. Believe it or not, feet can vary drastically. The shape,  width, and arch are the most common factors to consider when choosing the right footwear. Knowing your foot type is crucial in finding a shoe that offers the right level of support and comfort, preventing potential foot injuries or discomfort. Just because athletic wear tends to be more flexible than other shoe styles, doesn’t mean every sneaker is right for every foot! You don’t want to be in the middle of an exercise and only thinking about how constricted your dogs are because you have a wider than average foot. Most shoes come in a wide variety, so if this is something you need be sure to ask your sales associate to check for this option in your size. Arch support is also critical when it comes to walking or running. Neglecting arch support can easily result in pain or sloppy form and lead to injury. Whether you are flat footed or have high arches, you should consult with a trained sales associate or even an orthopedic or podiatric doctor about your foot and what type of shoe wear is best for you.  There  is also an excellent selection of inserts on the market these days  that offer customized support for every shoe in your closet.

Type of activity will also dictate the type of shoe you want to wear. Think of terrain: whether you’ll be walking or running on the beach, on a paved road, on a track, on a treadmill, or through the trails. Each type of ground will command a different level of support, breathability, and flexibility. Trail shoes will give you more traction so you’re not slipping on rocks and leaves. If you happen to encounter ice or snow still on the ground from winter, they even make devices that slip over your kicks to dig into the ground and provide further stability. Jogging on a beach (we recommend compact, damp sand – get toward the water!) requires buoyant running shoes because of the added obstacle of sand absorbing your steps. Regardless of terrain, you’ll want good support. Hokas are a great example of this; the thick soles are the kind of support we like to see.

Even with the current trend towards minimalism and capsule closets, having one pair of exercise shoes you use for, well, every type of exercise is not going to fly. Don’t wear down your walking/running shoes faster than usual because you are using them for other workouts, everyday errands, and social outings. Treat these with care outside of your normal wear and even consider rotating shoes. One pair will degrade quickly depending on your frequency of exercise and rotating can delay the need to purchase new ones and also keep your feet from injury.

Pro tip: before you go shoe shopping take a look at your current inventory and notice where the wear is. Is it on the sides or more medial? Toward the front or the back? You will see where you put the most pressure and will tell you a lot about your gait. Doesn’t matter if you call them sneakers, tennis shoes, gym shoes, sports shoes, running shoes, trainers or kicks – they all need to be selected with care. We love Fleet Feet in the South Hills because they have a customizable approach to sneakers; they take it seriously! Their fit process takes into account your goals, injury history and normal exercise routines. They actually examine your bare feet to analyze and come up with the best shoe, taking into account the factors mentioned above like size and width. Their recommendations are based on you and only you! Check them out before you hit the pavement, or wherever you head off to, this spring.