The type of athletic shoe you wear depends on the movements involved in the sport or activity you will be doing. Wearing the proper athletic shoe provides the support, shock absorption, traction, and protection necessary to keep the foot working properly and free from injury and stress. For running, sneakers need to be light, flexible, and built to absorb impact; tennis and basketball sneakers need to be supportive and able to handle lateral movements, sudden stops, and turns. Cross-training sneakers are appropriate for general athletic activities, such as gym workouts with weights and exercise equipment. If you or your child participates in multiple sports or activities, be sure to have an appropriate shoe specifically designed for each activity.

Athletic shoes should have a comfortable fit to minimize friction, which can lead to blisters and irritation. Depending on the sport, the height of the upper (low-cut, three-quarter-top, or high-top design), the laces, and construction of the sole may vary. Properly constructed athletic shoes have a sturdy construction, leather or canvas uppers, a flexible sole at the forefoot, adequate cushioning, and arch supports.

It is important to remember to regularly replace worn athletic footwear to avoid wear and tear on the feet due to worn soles, weakened heel counters, and evident creasing of the upper. Walking or running shoes should last for about 400 miles. Sneakers for basketball, tennis, and aerobic exercise should be replaced about every 50 hours of wear.

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