I recently had a patient who came to me with blisters and pre-ulcerative calluses to both feet and was experiencing pain after her basketball games. It turns out she has been in other sports, including basketball in previous years, without similar issues. After further questioning, I found out that she was wearing a team basketball shoe meaning everyone on the team wore the same style of shoe. Let’s face it, I’m a woman and I like things to match. After all, it looks good when the team runs onto the court with matching shoes, but ultimately it is not the best choice for the team and their feet. Here are five reasons that team shoes may not be a good idea:
1. Foot type: Everyone is born with a different foot type that can’t all be accommodated by the same shoe. Some people have high arches while others have low arches and some people fall in between that spectrum. Each person may need a different amount of support and stability as a result and what may seem comfortable to one may not be comfortable to all.
2. Size/width: Aside from foot type, feet come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Not all shoes come in a wide range of widths and lengths that will allow for a proper fit for everyone on the team.
3. Deformities: Young people can have deformities such as bunions, tailor bunions, hammertoes etc. which causes the shoe to be too snug or cause pain. It is important that an athlete is pain free during and after their activity.
4. Devices: Some athletes may need to wear braces or custom inserts in their shoes which will cause a shoe to fit differently than someone who doesn’t use these devices.
5. Injury: Athletes are at a higher risk of injury when wearing shoes that do not fit appropriately for a couple reasons. First, if the shoe structure and amount of stability is not correct for a certain foot type, sprains and strains are more likely to occur. Secondly, if the shoe is not comfortable people generally compensate by walking/running differently which also sets an athlete up for injury.
Unfortunately, small North Dakota towns have teams that are small in number with no one to fill the bench and are in dire need of each and every player, which happens to be the case with my patient. With that being said, preventing injuries is critical and avoiding team shoes is just one way to prevent this.