Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes? Forget it. It’ll probably only lead to issues before you’ve even reached the end of the block.
Just about every sport (except the ones in the air and the water) is played on land, and as such, it is our feet we rely on to get us from here to there. So it is vital to protect them and give them every advantage. This is where a pair of quality shoes intended for their specific purpose can make the difference between healthy and pain-free participation and a sore and miserable time.
You wouldn’t hire a clown to fix a leaky toilet, right? That’s why your old pair of sneakers doesn’t work on the tennis court or the mountain trail. Sure, you could get away with it for a while, maybe, but chances are your feet will begin tell a different tale. And remember the ankle bone’s connected to the shin bone, the shin bone’s… you started singing, didn’t you? A problem anywhere in our musculoskeletal system can lead to difficulties in other places along the line. A strong foundation (read: good and properly fitting shoes) can get you off on the right foot.
There are shoes for literally every activity. Footwear manufacturers are savvy. Have they led us to believe that each of these pursuits really needs an entirely different shoe? Probably. Does every recreation really need an entirely different shoe? Maybe. But walking through the fruit market is only slightly different than a walk in the park. I think you could get away with one pair. The same, of course, can’t be said of marathon running and a pick-up basketball game. Become a knowledgeable consumer, use common sense, and err on the side of caution. Understand your chosen sport or activity and the reasons for its particular footwear.
We can’t expect every salesperson to be a PhD in bio-mechanics, but he or she should be able to answer your questions before you sink a considerable amount of money into a pair of shoes. Most will be able to tell a little about your gait, whether there is excessive pronation, supination, etc. Better yet, do your own research, and educate yourself about how to best outfit yourself for your endeavour given your particular quirks.
The only things that last forever are diamonds (and the movie seemed to, at times, too). Shoes have a shelf-life. The irony is you have to take them off the shelf in order to find out what it is. Most manufacturers of running/walking shoes have recommendations about how much mileage one can expect from a shoe. Paying attention to wear patterns will help you decide when to put yours out to pasture.
If we were still running around on the African savannah, there would be no need for footwear or an article about it. As it is, our feet encounter a great variety of surfaces and situations. If there is one overarching theme here, it is to understand how to protect your feet while getting the most from them. And then whatever you do, you’ll enjoy it more.