No matter what your sport is, your athletic shoes are one of the most important pieces of equipment. From tennis to running, basketball to soccer, choosing the right athletic shoes for the right reasons can make a huge difference in keeping your feet and body healthy. Below you will find some of the things you need to consider when choosing shoes for your sport.
Style Is Not Everything Just about every day, someone asks me about their shoes. Questions vary from sport to sport, but the fact remains that the majority of people choose athletic shoes based on brand names and styles, rather than what is best for their own feet. I know that it can be hard to pass up those awesome looking shoes that match your uniform perfectly, but in the long run, the most important thing is that the athletic shoe serves its function...to support and protect your feet. So, lets take a closer look at what makes a good athletic shoe.
The Heel Box When I explain shoes to my patients, I always start with the heel box. This is where most people are similar in their needs. A sturdy heel box is essential to help control your rear-foot during athletic activities. The heel box is essentially the back third of the shoe, that surrounds your heel. Most athletic shoes have a heel box made up of leather, and some type of plastic or rubber reinforcement. However, not all athletic shoes are created equal. To test the heel box, try bending it over, or squeezing it in, and see how much resistance you encounter. If you can easily fold over the heel box, then chances are you will not get much support.
The Upper This is the area where most people make the mistake that causes injury. The "Upper" is the portion of the shoe that surrounds the foot. It is the upper portion of the shoe, from the heel box to the toe box. Uppers can be fashioned from all kinds of different materials, from mesh to leather, and other types of fabrics. Depending on your foot type, you may need more or less support from the upper. This portion of the shoe helps to control the mid and forefoot. Too much motion in these areas will allow for excessive stress through the meta-tarsals and tarsals, and can result in stress fractures, tendonitis, and other problems. To determine what type of foot you have, grab ahold of your foot with both hands, and move it around. Try moving individual bones around...do you find lots of motion, with little resistance, or is your foot very rigid, with little movement. You do not have to be an expert to tell if you have a flexible or rigid foot. Your athletic shoe should be opposite of your foot type. For rigid feet, you can get by with mesh or other light materials for the upper, as you need less support for your foot. For a flexible foot, you should lean more toward a rigid upper, that will control excessive motion and reduce stress.
The Arch Arch support is essential for good athletic shoes. Even people with good arches, or great feet mechanics should have sufficient arch support. But, arch support is more than just the arch. It is the way that the sole of the athletic shoe is created and constructed that determines the overall characteristics of the arch. And as far as those cushy insoles that they try to upsell you at the shoe store - pass on those as they just add comfort, not support. When choosing shoes, look closely at the sole of the shoe. A good arch support will be evident by the shape of the shoe. Notice the outline of the sole. There should be a minimal amount of change in width between the toe and the heel. The wider the athletic shoe is at the middle (where your arch is), the more surface area there is to support your foot. So, avoid shoes that start out wide at the toe, narrow way down in the middle, and then flare out again at the heel.
Change is Good Even the perfect athletic shoe will wear out over time. I have seen quite a few injuries due to old or worn out shoes. Just like any other equipment, you should monitor your shoes, and replace them when they wear out. If you are a runner, monitor your mileage, and replace them as appropriate. How do you know when to buy new shoes? Well, holes, or pieces falling off are generally good indicators...But if it is not that obvious, look for all of the qualities that you used to choose the athletic shoe in the first place. Is the heel box still sturdy? Is the upper as rigid as it needs to be to control your foot? Is the arch still in good shape, or have you worn down one side of the sole? Answer these questions, and inspect your shoes often to keep them protecting your feet.
Summary Good athletic shoes do not have to be flashy, or expensive to serve their intended purpose. There are lots of shoes out there that will fit both your needs and your budget. Look for all of the right qualities to fit your foot, and you are sure to make a wise decision. And when in doubt? Discuss shoe wear with other athletes, and the sales person at the shoe store. Chances are they have some good insight.
Grill Buying Guide: Grill, Cook and Smoke To Your Heart's Content
What you want to BBQ, when you want to BBQ. Whether you're just throwing a few burgers on or you want to create a feast for a crowd, you have a choice between grills. A charcoal grill, has long been hailed as the purest form of grill and the greatest flavor producing. However, in recent years gas grills have risen in popularity among American households. Electric grills are the least common for outdoor grilling, but the best solution for apts and townhouses with limited space and strict fire codes. Not sure what the best grill option is for you? Don't worry our dedicated team of barbecue experts is has compiled some helpful facts to get you started.
The Charcoal Grill: Best in Flavor / Most Care
While many maintain the the flavor produced by Charcoal grilling cannot be beat, it is important to also be aware that it involves the most prep time, cleaning time and maintenance. It's the simplest in construction and depending on size, can be very portable. Charcoal Grills are typically constructed of coated steel. Other than the grill itself, the owner is required to buy coals and lighter fluid to get the fire started. Once the fire has been set, it takes about 15 min to reach a hot enought cooking temperature. Prices vary from $45-$500 depending on size and style, yet the buyer should factor in the price of coal needed per grilling session. The most well known of this kind is the Kettle Grill It's by far the most popular and traditional charcoal grill. In the end, it's up to you and what you plan to cook as well as how often you plan to use the grill. A good charcoal grill is the most basic kind, usually less expensive up front and does a phenomenal job of grilling most anything.
The Grill Smoker: Brings out that true smoky flavor we all know and love
The process of smoking is less common amongst the general population, so here is a run down of how it actually works. A smoker utilizes a combination of smoldering wood and low temperatures to create a taste that is unparalleled. The apparatus provides a temperature controlled smoky environment that can be held at the same temperature for hours at a time. It's big time in the barbeque world. The flavor and smokiness of your food also depends on the type of Wood Chips/Chunks you use. Also keep in mind that some charcoal grills offer a smoker option as well as some of the higher end gas grills. You can't beat that!
Gas Grills: Most popular among American Homes / Moderate Care
All hail the mighty Gas Grill. With the flick of a switch you can start, control and maintain the best temperature for your particular bbq needs. The gas grill construction is rather simple with burners, a system such as lava rocks to dispurse the heat from the burners and cooking grates. A grill with multiple burners is more desirable as it ensures the heat will be even and no cold spots will arise. Overall the gas grill is easy to light, control and clean up. Get your gas grill going today and create fabulous feasts for the entire family!
The Electric Grill: It doesn't get Easier Than Plug In And Go.
The Electric Grill is the least common for outdoor grilling and produces the most subtle bbq grill flavor. However, apartment or town house owners with minimal space find these portable grilling machines ideal. Most are smaller, easy to keep and store in a kitchen and some like the George Foreman Electric Grill can even be used countertop. They operate with ease, clean with ease and in many ways, you can't beat it.
As a consumer, you have to decide what you have room for, what you have ambition for and what you will be cooking. It's quite easy to throw a few steaks on the George Foreman without the hassle and mess of cooking in an oven.
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