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Sports-Specific Shoes: That Certain Something

Your feet bear the burden of all your athletic activities. Gone are the days of buying any old athletic shoe and using them for all the sports you are involved in. Research has shown a sport-specific shoe can improve your performance, definitely a good thing. But most importantly, the right shoe can help prevent injury and permanent damage to your feet and legs--and, since different sports use different parts of your feet and require different motions, it's important to know what kind of features to look for.
If you're spending a lot of time on the tennis court, your shoes should have enough room for sliding side to side and should have padded toes to prevent injuries on short steps and quick stops. Running shoes should be individually chosen depending on your weight, foot structure and the distances you run. If basketball is your thing, look for a shoe with extra padding and support around the ankle.
For aerobics, cushioning in the ball of the foot and support around the ankle is a good idea to handle all the impact the bouncing and jumping can cause. A good bet is to head to a specialty sports store, which is generally staffed with professional fitters. Many of them are seasoned athletes themselves. If you can, bring a pair of your old shoes with you. The way they've worn out can provide some valuable clues to your form and what kind of shoes may fit you best.
Don't expect to wear the same size athletic shoe and dress shoes. You need a bit more room to move around during activity. So don't be surprised if you have to go up a full size. Quality comes with a price. While you don't need the most expensive pair in the store, you need a pair with the proper technology for your sport. Try your shoes out. Run, jump and sprint in the store and don't expect your shoes to break in. They should be comfortable from the starting line.