SOURCE: AOFAS

AOFAS

February 11, 2010 11:12 ET

Whether You're an Olympic Athlete or Weekend Runner, a Make or Break Performance May Come Down to Your Feet

The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society Offers Tips on Selecting the Right Athletic Shoe

ROSEMONT, IL--(Marketwire - February 11, 2010) - As the world's athletes prepare to compete in Vancouver this month, one thing they may have in common is they all know the importance of a proper fitting sports shoe. According to the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS), proper fitting shoes provide cushioning, stability and can enhance performance and prevent injury. Ill fitting shoes can lead to bunions, corns, calluses, hammer toes, and other foot problems, problems all athletes can do without.

Thomas O. Clanton, MD, past president of the AOFAS, who practices in Vail, Colorado and treats many patients with sports related foot and ankle injuries says, "In athletic competition, the foundation for achieving the Olympic motto "Citius, Altius, Fortius" ("swifter, higher, stronger") is almost always the foot and ankle. Without a well-functioning foot and ankle enclosed in a properly fit and sport-appropriate shoe or boot, any number of difficulties may occur. This can range from painful blisters or calluses caused by improper fit to poor performance attributable to the wrong shoe-surface interface. Sometimes the issue is fitting the shoe to accommodate an existing condition such as a bunion, a hammer toe, or a pump bump at the heel. Other times the shoe selection is more protective to prevent an injury such as having the best shoe for a specific foot type, as in a cavus (high-arched) foot. Occasionally, high level sports performance requires the addition of an orthotic device within the shoe or boot that can position the foot for its optimal biomechanical advantage. Whether you are an Olympic athlete or a weekend sports participant, paying attention to your shoe wear and to your feet can reward you with improved comfort and performance."

It can be hard to choose from the many different types of athletic shoes on the market. It is important to select shoe wear that is appropriate to the specific sport you participate in. There are differences in design and variations in material and weight, all deliberately designed to protect the areas of the feet that encounter the most stress in that particular athletic activity.

The AOFAS breaks down types of athletic shoes into seven categories: Running, Training, Walking; Court Sports (tennis, basketball, volleyball); Field Sports (soccer, football, and baseball); Winter Sports (figure skating, ice hockey, skiing) Track and Field; Specialty Sports (golf, aerobic dancing, bicycling) and Outdoor Sports (hunting fishing, boating).

The AOFAS offers the following tips for selecting properly-fitting athletic shoes:

--  Try on athletic shoes after a workout or run at the end of the day.
    Your feet will be at their largest.
--  Wear the same type of sock you wear for that sport.
--  When the shoe is on your foot you should be able to freely wiggle all
    your toes.
--  The shoes should be comfortable as soon as you try them on. There is
    no break-in period.
--  Walk or run a few steps in your shoes.  They should be comfortable.
--  Always re-lace the shoes you are trying on.  Begin at the farthest
    eyelets and apply even pressure as you crisscross the lacing pattern
    to the top of the shoe.
--  There should be a firm grip of the shoe to your heel.  Your heel
    should not slip as you walk or run.
--  If you participate in a specific sport three or more times a week, you
    should select a sport specific shoe.

By following these suggestions you may avoid injury and even enhance your athletic performance. For more information and resources on foot and ankle care go to the AOFAS website www.aofas.org, and click on Patient Education and Resources. The site also features a surgeon referral service that makes it easy for patients to find a local orthopaedic surgeon specializing in foot and ankle care.

About the AOFAS

The AOFAS promotes quality, ethical and cost-effective patient care through education, research and training of orthopaedic surgeons and other health care providers. It creates public awareness for the prevention and treatment of foot and ankle disorders, provides leadership, and serves as a resource for government, industry and the national and international health care community.

About Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Surgeons

Orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons are medical doctors (MD and DO) who specialize in the diagnosis, care, and treatment of patients with disorders of the musculoskeletal system of the foot and ankle. This includes the bones, joints, ligaments, muscles tendons, nerves, and skin. Orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons use medical, physical, and rehabilitative methods as well as surgery to treat patients of all ages. They perform reconstructive procedures, treat sports injuries, and manage and treat trauma of the foot and ankle.

Orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons work with physicians of many other specialties, including internal medicine, pediatrics, vascular surgery, endocrinology, radiology, anesthesiology, and others. Medical school curriculum and post-graduate training provides the solid clinical background necessary to recognize medical problems, admit patients to a hospital when necessary, and contribute significantly to the coordination of care appropriate for each patient.

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