Many amateur athletes make the mistake of buying multipurpose footwear thinking it is good enough for all of the activities they like to participate in. And then they wonder why their shoes wear out faster than they anticipated, or they wonder why their feet ache after an activity.
It’s because there is actual science that goes into the development and manufacturing of footwear. We don’t usually give it much thought, and perhaps we think that it is just a marketing ploy to get us to buy more shoes than we actually need; but the truth is that you wouldn’t use a drill to brush your teeth, so why would you try to rock climb with running shoes?
Much research goes into determining what people need from their shoes. It is no laughing matter. There is a reason “walking shoes” are called walking shoes: the way people walk is very different than the way they run. You use different muscles and your body takes a different stance when you walk than when you run. We don’t pay much attention to the sales person at the shoe store when they tell us we need a running shoe for running, but we really should.
An extreme example of needing the right footwear for the job is in buying the best bouldering footwear. You probably don’t even know what bouldering is – it’s a variation of rock climbing that is so specific that you actually need a special kind of shoe to participate in that activity. You can try to wear running shoes while bouldering, but you’ll probably slip and fall.
When you are flyfishing in a river, you wouldn’t wear your work boots into the water. You need a special pair of hip boots so that you don’t get wet while you are wading in the river trying to catch your dinner.
A ballet dancer wouldn’t try to wear tap shoes to do a pirouette. It just wouldn’t work. It’s science and the research that goes into how people use their bodies in particular ways that goes into how shoes are built. We take these things for granted all the time, but there is a reason that steel-toe boots have steel-toes: men working in dangerous areas often have things fall on their feet. Enough men and women have lost toes that someone sat down and created a shoe that would prevent that from happening.
So the next time you are looking at a pair of shoes, consider how you are going to use them. And if your shoes are bathing your feet, consider that you might actually be wearing the wrong kind of shoe for the activity you are doing. Take your time to try on your shoes and don’t be afraid to bring them back to the store if they aren’t fitting you properly. Nothing can slow you down more than a bad fitting pair of shoes, or if you are wearing ballet slippers trying to rock climb. It’s common sense. Do your homework and know what you need to get out of your next pair of shoes before you go shopping. It will make the process much easier.