Despite the cold temps on these early April mornings, here in Southeast Michigan, the robins are out singing their early morning song reminding us that Spring IS actually here! As we prepare to put our winter boots away, it’s time to prepare for outdoor activities with footwear that best supports our bodies and good health.

To help you get moving healthfully, here are 6 great tips on how to choose athletic shoes that best support outside walking or running this season.

#1 INSPECT YOUR SHOES
Just because you haven’t been able to use your athletic shoes outside for many months, doesn’t mean your shoes are still supporting you properly. Is the back of the sole worn out? Is there still a cushion of support or is it worn down? Knowing when to replace your shoes is important, especially if you are a runner.

#2 DON’T BE CHEAP WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR MOBILITY
Though it’s great to find a nice pair of athletic shoes for a low price, being cheap when it comes to your feet isn’t wise. The fact is a good quality walking or running shoe can be pricey – but then, again, so can healthcare when you’ve injured yourself. Pay attention to the difference between a well-made shoe and a shoe that is expensive just because it is fashionable or endorsed by a celebrity.

#3 WHEN SHOE SHOPPING, WEAR (OR BRING) YOUR OWN SOCKS
Those nylon things at the shoe store might protect your foot from someone else’s germs – but they certainly don’t give you a chance to learn how the shoe fits when you are wearing your own socks. And, if you use an orthotic, bring this too, since the shoes need to fit with the orthotic inside.

#4 DON’T GO SHOE SHOPPING IN THE MORNING
Given that our feet swell throughout the day, it isn’t a good idea to shop for shoes early in the day. When you go later in the day, your feet will be at their largest and give you the best possibility of finding the right fit.

#5 ONE PAIR OF SHOES DOESN’T FIT EVERY OUTDOOR ACTIVITY
When you run, your foot contacts and wear patterns are different than when you walk. Shoes for walking tend to be stiff while shoes for running tend to be more flexible. Whatever type of activity you are doing, be aware of the difference and purchase shoes that will give you the best support for each type of activity.

#6 COMFORT IS A BIG DEAL
As we’ve looked over the studies, especially in connection with helping runners, we’ve found that the best shoes for your feet boils down to one thing: comfort. While your shoes need to be supportive, your foot also needs to be able to move within reason and restricting motion can cause problems too.

While we know that these tips can be helpful, if you don’t feel comfortable figuring out what is best for you, go to a reputable shoe store and ask for professional help – your body will thank you later!