Athletic footwear should be fitted to hold the foot in the position that's most natural to the movement involved. Athletic shoes protect your feet from stresses encountered in a given sport and to give the player more traction. The differences in design and variations in material, weight, lacing characteristics and other factors among athletic shoes are meant to protect the areas of the feet that encounter the most stress.
Well-fitted athletic shoes need to be comfortable, yet well-constructed and appropriate for a given activity. A good fit will mitigate blisters and other skin irritations.
Sports-specific athletic shoes are a good investment for serious athletes, though perhaps a less critical consideration for non-athletes. Don't wear any sport shoes or other shoes beyond their useful life.
A running shoe is built to take impact, while a tennis shoe is made to give relatively more support, and permit sudden stops and turns. For sports, "cross trainers" are fine for a general athletic shoe, such as for physical education classes. Cross-trainers, ideal for stair machines and weight-lifting, provide more lateral support and less flexibility than running shoes and may be heavier. You don't need light, flexible shoes for cross-training. But if a child is involved more heavily in any single sport, he or she should have a shoe specifically designed for that sport.
Our practice recommends sturdy, properly fitted athletic shoes of proper width, with leather or canvas uppers, soles that are flexible (but only at the ball of the foot), cushioning, arch supports, and room for your toes. Try a well-cushioned sock for reinforcement, preferably one with an acrylic fiber content so that some perspiration moisture is "wicked" away.
Soccer shoes should offer a reinforced toe, wide toebox, soft leather, field-appropriate cleats, well-padded soles and a support system that can help prevent ankle sprains and knee injuries.
Tennis shoes should provide good arch support, a reinforced toe, a roomy toe-box and a comfortable collar in the back of the shoe. If the collar is too high, it rubs against the Achilles' tendon, a problem frequently experienced by tennis players.
Basketball shoes should provide support for lateral movement and extra stability to guard against ankle sprains.