If the sun is out, the ballpark is calling, and your baseball cleats have emerged from their winter storage looking warped, worn or weary, it’s time for a new pair! Here are a few tips for buying baseball shoes this spring, from the expert sports foot health team at Hunt Footcare.
1. Try before you buy
Nothing beats trying on a pair of baseball cleats in person, or better still, several pairs in different styles. As with all sports shoes, baseball cleats should offer the correct level of foot support for standing, running, sliding and catching, to reduce the risk of ankle injury. While it may be tempting to buy online, you’ll only know which fit the best when they are actually on your feet. So, take the time to shop at your town shoe store, take their advice, and you’ll be supporting both your feet and your local economy too!
2. What top is best for you?
Baseball shoes are available with three levels of ankle support, referred to as ‘tops’. High top baseball shoes support the ankle best, low tops are the lightest to wear. (You may also find this referred to as low, mid and high cut.) Unless you’re a regular player in a team, you’re probably best opting for ankle support over shoe weight.
3. Tighter is better
While we would never advocate buying tight shoes of any description, sports shoes should provide a close, supportive fit from the moment you buy them. As you wear your baseball shoes in, they will naturally flex and expand a little. If you buy a looser fit at the outset, by the middle of the season, you’ll be slopping around in them and vulnerable to ankle sprain or injury. A well-fitted baseball shoe should support your foot and ankle firmly, but not constrict your toes or feel tight across the top of your foot. If you wear orthotics, take them with you when you buy baseball shoes, to ensure the best fit possible.
4. Run in your shoes
All baseball shoes need grip, and depending on what level of game you’re playing, you’ll either wear rubber or metal cleats. We find amongst our patients that problems can happen when players move from the softer grip of rubber cleats to the improved traction of metals spikes. As the metal spikes provide greater grip, players can suffer twisted knees and ankles when the spikes dig in faster and more firmly than expected. So, practice in your new baseball shoes on an appropriate surface, and remember if you run over a lawn in metal spikes, you’ll be helping to aerate the turf too – double the benefit!
5. Check your cleats are legal
Different leagues and tournaments specify metal or rubber cleats, so make sure you’ve got the right cleats for the competitions you’ll be in. This particularly applies to your kids; the official rules governing Mosquito and Pee Wee division games in Canada forbid the wearing of metal cleats, for example. For many recreational players, rubber molded cleats are perfectly sufficient, offering good grip with the advantages of easy cleaning!
6. If it hurts, stop!
Playing baseball in well-fitting shoes should be comfortable and pleasurable (so long as your team wins!). If instead you’re experiencing heel pain, leg pain, or suffering too many sprains for you liking, the problem could be your foot positions. Custom-made orthotics can realign your feet in your shoes, to improve performance and significantly reduce pain. Call us for details, or pop into our Ontario foot clinics for more details, located in Stratford, London and Ingersoll.