Nike, Asics, Reebok, New Balance…there are about a thousand and one different brands and types of athletic shoes on the market today. You can purchase anything from shoes pumped with air to shoes that have built in “shocks”. But when push comes to shove, how do you know which shoes are most appropriate for your feet and your chosen athletic activity?

Looks and even sometimes the descriptions in the stores can be deceiving, so we are here to give you the 411 on how to choose the proper athletic shoe.

If you are looking for a good running shoe, there are a few things to consider. First, you want to make sure that the shoe is flexible. Bend the shoe to ensure that it bends right behind the toe box or where your toes would be in the shoe. If you can bend the entire shoe in half (yes, there are a few on the market that do that!) then those particular shoes will not provide enough support.

Next, you want to check the heel of the shoe. If you squeeze the heel there should not be a whole lot of give. You want a sturdy heel to provide support to your joints as your heel strikes the ground during running.

Probably the most important aspect to consider when purchasing running shoes is the type of foot you have.

Stores that specialize in running gear will be able to tell you whether you pronate, supinate, or if your foot is neutral. There are different shoes for each type of foot, and you want to make sure you get the proper shoe in order to prevent injury.

Running shoes generally last about one year depending on how much you run. If you are an avid runner then of course, you will need to replace your shoes more regularly. But even if you bought your shoes and have only run a few miles in them in the past year, you still want to replace them. This is because the material the shoes are made of tends to break down and won’t provide the same support that a new shoe would.

Shoe purchases are not the place to go cheap either. Save money at the grocery store; don’t be afraid to pay top dollar for a good pair of running shoes.

It is well worth the investment. We highly suggest you shop at a running store that has specialty shoes that are foot and running specific. They are much better quality than you will find anywhere else.

For those of you who prefer court sports like tennis or basketball, you will want a shoe that is flat on the bottom. You want to prevent a lot of side-to-side motion. If hiking is your thing, you want to look for a good, sturdy hiking boot with a very stiff sole. This will give you some good leverage to get over the rocky terrain. Hiking boots also tend to have a higher top on them to provide ankle support.