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Recommending Sporting Shoes: Educating Athletes On Keys To Appropriate Selection

“What is the most appropriate shoe for me?” This may possibly be the most common patient question for any of us who treat athletes of any age or proficiency. I have had the opportunity to work with athletes from beginners to professionals. Many factors weigh into the choice of shoe, including price, past injury and, in sport particularly, shoe size. People who participate in sport often have difficulty finding large enough shoe sizes at a typical sports store.

The reality is many of today’s shoes are not just for playing basketball, they are fashion statements, which slightly complicates the selection process.

So how do we choose and make recommendations for patients? Comfort should be the primary factor above all other factors.

With these findings in mind, how do we recommend the best shoe to our sport-playing patients? For the athletes I treat, I find it is beneficial to add an additional insole, across all ages, but especially in older players. The sock liners that come with basketball shoes are thin and easily replaceable. The lone exception to this is some of the early Kobe Bryant basketball models with Nike. These shoes have exceptionally thick cushioned insoles that one cannot easily replace with an over-the-counter or a custom device. Often, sporting orthotics tend to be flexible and offer more of a custom footbed than a true biomechanically-controlling orthotic. Players like the ability to pivot without too much control.

For players with larger feet, shoes may be difficult to find at the average athletic shoe store. Ordering online directly through the shoe companies frequently offers the best opportunity to buy larger-sized shoes. Unfortunately, this becomes a trial-and-error exercise and one I do not typically recommend. Sometimes it does become the only option.

Today’s sporting shoes offer excellent shock absorption and stability in comparison to older shoe models. Some due diligence may be necessary to find an appropriate shoe for your athletic patients but there are a lot of options available.