Quick tip guide to buying athletic shoes

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) If you're in the market for a new pair of shoes, the shoe store can be extremely overwhelming. So that's why I went straight to the experts to find out what you need to know before you buy your next pair.

"The best thing I can encourage is don't be shy. Just hold your hand up and say, 'Hey listen I'm confused in here', [and] we'll help you out. We'll guide you in the right direction," says Finish Line Shoe Expert, Brandon Downs.

From full support to free forming, the options in the world of athletic shoes are endless and deep down you're probably wondering does price or brand matter?

"Obviously in a higher priced shoe, there's going to be better material that goes into it. But the biggest thing that makes a difference in higher priced shoes over a lower priced one is, honestly, the research and development that goes into it. So getting a pair of running shoes is really like a car; you get what you pay for out of it," says Downs.

Keep in mind there are plenty of qualities in lower cost shoes, which is usually in the $80 range, that will get the job done. But here's what you need to look for:

The gray portion of the sole isn't just for looks: The longer and darker it is, the more stable arch support it has.

Also, make sure you get an accurate fit. It takes about 15 seconds to find out your proper size and width with a shoe expert.

Ladies, you typically want 1/2 of your thumb or less of room from the tip of your toes to the tip of the shoe and guys you're looking for 1/2 thumb space or more. That way your foot has enough room to move around while you workout.

And Brandon says if you buy the wrong shoe, you'll quickly know it.

"Your toes could feel numb in the front, pain in your arch or shin splints can actually develop. Takes about two to three weeks for you to actually feel shin splints," he advises.

Something else you want to put on your checklist is making sure you try on shoes during the general time you workout, because as the day goes on your foot swells.

We've talked about a lot of traditional athletic shoes, but there's also something called Vibrams or five finger shoes. They haven't hit mainstream stores just yet, but the popularity is growing.

"It allows my foot to flex and move in a more natural state," comments marathon runner Logan Hejl on the shoe.

Plagued with a low arch and constant foot problems, Hejl says Vibrams are the only shoes that offers the relief he needs so he can hit the pavement.

"The big thing we talk about is impact force, how hard you're hitting. Well in a traditional running shoe you've got a really thick heal and sometimes you don' feel the stress that you're putting on your body. Ankles, knees, hips and on up your back. With Vibrams, because the sole is so thin, you feel it more. If you step on a rock, you feel it, so it gets you into running softer," says Hejl.

And for him, he's living proof that running works!

Hejl says, "Before I started running and really training I was 220 pounds. I've gotten down to 170. I'm a little bit above that now."

Bottom line, it's so easy to get so much information about these shoes online, but really you're best bet it to come into the store, talk to local experts and really make sure it's the right fit before you buy.

Copyright 2012 WMBF News. All rights reserved.