Experts agree that choosing the right athletic shoes is as important as the workout itself. According to Dr Ataro Stephen Ayella, the sports and fitness team doctor with Uganda Netball Federation, even among athletes, shoes determine how well you perform and in the long term could affect your career should injuries result from inappropriate shoe size or design.
However, it is also not a one size fits all. For example, shoes for jogging are not the same as those used by a football player. Dr Ataro, adds that this is because the biomechanics of the player determine what they wear.
“For example, in netball, players may wear the same design despite differences in some aspects of their biomechanics: a goal attacker, for example moves faster than the goal defender or keeper hence their biomechanics differs slightly and so the shoes role becomes key. This is because while the keeper guards the goal and has less movements, the attacker moves around often in a vigorous or faster way,” he explains.
It is also important to note that wearing ill-fitting shoes is not good. “In the case of oversized shoes, the player may slide because the foot has a lot of room to move. Apart from being a cause for failure to perform, in the case of an athlete, it could also cause bodily damage, say bumping into your fellow player,” Dr Ataro adds.
While exercising, Elly Muhereza, a fitness coach, says a shoe bigger than your foot size makes working out cumbersome which lowers the effectiveness of the exercise.
With regards to a small size or tightly fitting shoes, chances of getting blisters is high. “That is because the foot is vigorously rubbing on the shoe as the activity goes on,” Muhereza adds.
Besides that, seeing that the shoe is tightly fitting, it presses on nerves causing numbness (paraesthesia). With activity going on for quite a while, he says chances are one’s feet will lose sensation by the time they remove the shoes.
Blood vessels (veins) may also get pressed when one wears tight fitting shoes. “That brings on vascular compromise which leads to swollen feet (oedema). Vascular insufficiency can be such a problem for an athlete, especially in cold weather compared to warm weather,” Dr Ataro intimates.
Apart from the pain that comes with oedema, he adds that one will mostly likely fail to exercise at all and have to buy another pair of shoes which will most likely be bigger in size than their foot size.
Shoes per sport
Dr Ataro shares what the various sports disciplines need in regards to footwear and why:
Footballers and soccer players need spiky shoes because of the slippery ground on the pitch. However, the spikes should not be so sharp as their role here is not for anchoring but to avoid sliding as they play. These shoes cost between Shs75,000 -Shs80,000 at sports shops in Kampala.
Jogging calls for cushioned shoes because of the continuous up and down movement hence need to cushion one’s bones from harm upon impact with the unleveled ground. A good pair will cost you between Shs65,000-Shs75000.
Despite all the variations, it should be noted that shoes are meant to cushion the body as one goes about an activity.
“As such, all the shoes should be well cushioned lest the bones get damaged upon contact with the ground. This is because the foot bears weight of the trunk and shoes should be designed to provide that protective function,” Dr Ataro says.