Did you know that Canadians who sit on the sidelines all week but play a hard game of sport on the weekend are at risk of injury? Unlike our bodies, our desire to play never gets out of shape, so play smart by making good choices to help reduce injury risks.

The challenge is that many weekend warriors, or people who only participate in sport on the weekend, are unable to train sufficiently for the sports they participate in. What increases the risk of injury even more is that many weekend warriors may not be aware of the proper footwear for their chosen sport.

Not wearing the correct footwear can cause problems ranging from minor discomfort such as blisters, corns, and callouses, to more serious conditions including repetitive stress injuries to the joints and muscles. One pair of running shoes may not always serve for all sports. Joggers should wear running shoes which are specifically designed to absorb shock and propel them forward. A sport like basketball, however, needs footwear that is designed for side to side movements, which running shoes do not provide. Choosing footwear appropriate for your sport reduces the risk of injury and helps you play smart.

So when is the best time to replace running shoes? The cushioning and supportive materials in running shoes break down over time, even if they’re not being used, leaving the wearer without the support they require. Depending on the use of the shoes, running shoes typically have a lifespan of 700 to 800 kilometres, or should be replaced every 12 months. As with all footwear, athletic shoes must fit properly. Shoes that are too long, too short, or too wide can affect the function of the foot.

Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a recreational athlete, have your athletic footwear professionally fitted by a foot expert such as a Canadian Certified Pedorthist. This simple step will help you keep off the sidelines and in the game.