Expert tips on selecting sports shoes

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 April, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 April, 2000, 12:00am

A guest speaker from a sportswear company held up a sports shoe as she talked about the history of sports shoes design.

However, the fascinated young audience seemed to be more familiar with the 15-generation sport shoes series, named after American basketball star Michael Jordan than, than Rosanna Hon Yuk-ling, marketing director of Nike Hong Kong.

'It's the 13th generation!' 22- year-old sports shoes-lover Tong Tak-yuen said.

The first year social work student was among a group from the Polytechnic University (PolyU) who attended the seminar on 'Choosing the Right Sport Shoes'.

'I love sports shoes as well as playing basketball,' Mr Tong said.

Despite his busy study schedule, he manages to squeeze five hours a week for playing basketball and can wear out a pair of sports shoes in three months.

Mr Tong said he was always wearing sports shoes and even matched them to his trousers.

On average, he buys one new pair a month, costing $600 to $700. He has a collection of 15 pairs, some of which he has never worn.

'I wrap them up carefully to prevent them from turning old,' he said, adding that he kept up with the latest trends and products by reading Japanese magazines and surfing the Internet.

Another speaker, William Chong Kam-fu, Nike's former sports shoes manager, said when choosing shoes, students should consider the type of sport they were playing, whether they were using them for training or competition, the shape of their feet and the material and design of the shoes.

Mr Chong said there were different types of shoes to meet the needs of different sports, such as basketball, running, soccer, tennis and fitness exercise. Basketball shoes should be made of strong material, with thick air pads and a high cut for better support and protection against shock and sprains.

Meanwhile, running and fitness shoes should be lightweight to allow greater flexibility, with each shoe weighing about 300 grams. The sole should provide good traction and the surface design should maximise lateral support for the foot.

Mr Chong said a test could be taken to find out whether one's feet were normal, too flat or have too high an arch. Remedial shoe designs can solve the problem.

The wrong choice of sports shoes could easily cause sprains and gradually lead to injury of joints, particularly at the ankle, knee and pelvis, Mr Chong said.

For the regular user, a pair of sports shoes should normally last for nine months to a year, depending on the material.

Mr Chong said most companies designed sports shoes based on functional principles. Normally a pair at $450 was functionally good enough, but those from brands that emphasise innovative designs would cost more, he said.

Nike's first sport shoes were made in 1960s by founder Bill Bowerman, a track and field coach at Oregon University, Oregon, United States, with a new light and thin material which enabled athletes to run faster, Ms Yuk said.

The seminar was part of Well in Action 2000, a programme organised by the Office of Student Affairs to promote a healthy lifestyle among students.