Footwear and injury

The majority of orthopedic injuries of the lower-leg, foot and ankle can claim ill-fitting or inappropriate footwear as a major contributing factor. Wearing the right shoes, properly fitted, is a vital part of sports injury prevention.

Over my years as a trainer, I’ve witnessed many exercisers wearing running shoes for weight lifting. This is a no-no. Running shoes generally lack support for significant lateral movements of the foot and ankle that many resistance exercises require, particularly functional training. Instead of running shoes, try cross-trainers or court shoes such as tennis or basketball shoes.

Where running is concerned, the right shoe is particularly a must. Depending on your stride and running surface, your foot meets the ground at 2 – 6 times the force of gravity with each step. Leave the fitting process to the pro’s on this one. A good shoe store catering to runners will not only properly fit you, but will also watch you run in your shoes to ensure they offer adequate support to meet your needs (e.g. pronation of the foot). They can also assess your injury history and wear patterns on your existing shoes for hints at your foot-support needs.

Here in Santa Rosa, CA. my top picks for running stores are Heart and Sole (4th and Brookwood) and Fleet Feet (West 3rd St.).They’re both excellent and the staff really know their stuff.

Whatever the sport or activity, get them professionally fitted, buy your first pair and if you like them, go online and buy several additional pairs. This a) allows you to save a few bucks on shoes you already know you like, and b) keeps you from having to get re-fitted every time shoe models change. Zappos ( offers a great selection and you’ll often save about $10/pair off of store prices on high-end athletic shoes. Happy hunting!

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