We asked Johanna Bjorken, merchandising director and shoe buyer for JackRabbit Sports in New York City, to clarify some of the most common footwear misconceptions.
Myth #1: You need weeks to break in athletic shoes. "Your shoes should feel comfortable from the first run or workout. If you have to 'break them in' for them to feel good, pick a different shoe."
Myth #2: You should buy sneakers a half-size bigger than your normal shoes. "The real test is wiggle room for your toes. Feet expand on impact to help your body absorb shock. You should have about a thumb's width (half an inch) between the end of your longest toe and the end of the shoe, and the shoes should not squeeze your foot's width. Since we often wear street shoes more snugly, don't be surprised if your sneakers end up a full size bigger."
Myth #3: You should shop for sneakers before you work out. "It depends on when you work out. Your feet expand throughout the day and after you've worked out. If you work out in the evening, shop in the evening. If you're a jump-out-of-bed-with-the-sunrise runner, get sized early in the day. "
Myth #4: You'll stay the same sneaker size your entire adult life. "Feet expand in length and width as you get older. Middle-age spread isn't just for waistlines and bottoms."
Myth #5: You should replace your sneakers every six months. "If you're getting aches and pains and the miles on your shoes have climbed over 300, that might be the message that your shoes are done. Flip your shoes over and look at the space between the outsole flex grooves (you might think of it as the tread). If you can see the midsole (cushioning foam) flush or even poking through the grooves, that's another sign your shoes should be retired. If you're doing gym activities with a lot of side to side motion, you'll also want to consider how stretched out the upper is getting, and whether your foot is sliding around in the shoe."
—The Details editors