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Who is Responsible for Sore Feet, Ladies?

Yonex Aerus Ladies Badminton Shoe

There is a constant refrain in the shoe business about the evils of major shoe brands and how their decisions are damaging women’s feet.

The narrative says that generations of women have suffered immeasurable foot damage due to shoe designs that promote style and beauty over health. These decisions, the narrative holds, have caused millions of older women to suffer from hammertoes, bunions, crooked toes, flat feet, corns, callouses and many other maladies of the feet.

To some extent, that is true. Poor shoe design does lead to preventable injuries and painful chronic conditions. But at some point women have to take responsibility for the choices they make.


Yonex Ladies Court Shoes

A random sample of five Yonex ladies court shoes from our online store.


In our store for example, we help hundreds of women try on shoes every month. Many of these women suffer from one or more of these maladies, so we do not hesitate to offer healthier options. Only a small percentage, however, even consider what we are telling them.

Almost every day of the week we have women in our store who insist on buying court shoes that are too short and too narrow. “But my heel is slipping,” is the most common sign that a woman is about to insist on buying a shoe that is too small.

We advise them that a little bit of movement in the heel of an athletic shoe is normal and healthy. We explain that the only way to get an athletic shoe in which there is no heel movement is to choose a shoe that is too short.


Asics Ladies Court Shoes

A random sample of five Asics ladies court shoes from our online store.


Shoes that have no heel movement — in other words, shoes that are too short — lead to hammertoes, bunions, crooked toes, flat feet, corns, callouses and many other maladies of the feet.

“But I am always a size 7,” some women state emphatically. “I have been a size 7 my whole life.”

In fact, from birth to death, the human foot is in a constant state of change. Our feet change grow longer and wider through childhood. For some people, feet continue growing well into adulthood.


Asics Ladies Court Shoes

A random sample of Babolat ladies court shoes from our online store.


Change continues even for those whose feet do stop growing in their teens. As we age, our feet tend to widen and our arches tend to fall. So nobody can ever truly say that their feet are the same size now as they were more than 20 years ago.

We offer expert fittings in our store for exactly this reason. We want to give all athletes, including female athletes of all ages, an opportunity to buy shoes that will not damage (or further damage) their feet.

Unfortunately, we often feel like our good advice is falling on deaf ears. Many women, it seems, are accustomed to the pain and want to continue experiencing it, even into their golden years, in spite of the fact that there are many healthier options right in front of them.

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Yonex Aerus 3 – What You Need to Know

YONEX POWER CUSHION AERUS 3 COURT SHOLES BLUE

Yonex Aerus 3 – What You Need to Know

YONEX POWER CUSHION AERUS 3 COURT SHOES BLACK
Yonex Aerus 3 has a coloured rubber outsole and may not be welcome everywhere.
Sales of Yonex ™ new Power Cushion Aerus 3 have started strongly. Everybody seems to be interested in this shoe and everybody wants to try it. Before they rush in to buy this shoe, though, we thought it was important to let our customers know what they may be getting themselves into.

The first thing people need to consider is durability. Those who remember the first iteration of this shoe — the Yonex Aerus — will remember what a disaster that shoe was for Yonex. Billed as the lightest badminton shoe ever made, it quickly became obvious that the Aerus was not built for durability. Nor was it built for continuous adult use. In fact, we processed more warranty requests for the Aerus than any Yonex shoe in the history of Racquet Network.

The second thing people need to consider is fit. Once again, a previous version of the shoe — in this case, the Aerus 2 — provides a history lesson. With a highly tapered toe, the Yonex Aerus 2 was certainly not built for everybody. In fact, in our store we found it fit less than one-third of our male customers. It seemed to fit players under 25 well enough, but the vast majority of players over 25 could not squeeze their feet into the Aerus’ narrow profile.


Yonex Aerus Series Badminton Shoes


The final thing that people need to consider before purchasing the Yonex Aerus 3 is whether or not they will be allowed to wear it in their badminton club. Here in Calgary, for example, two of our largest badminton clubs — Smash City and Sunridge Badminton Centre — are infamous for refusing to allow coloured rubber compounds on their courts. Specifically, both of these clubs traditionally prohibit black-soled shoes on their mats.

YONEX POWER CUSHION AERUS 3 COURT SHOES BLACK OUTSOLE
Some badminton clubs do not allow black-soled shoes.
The problem for Aerus 3 fans is that, unlike the Aerus 3R which was not imported into Canada by Yonex Canada, the shoe that was imported into Canada has a coloured sole. In fact, the black Aerus 3 has a black sole, which is banned in most badminton clubs using mats.

So if you are thinking about purchasing this shoe, the first thing should do is find out if the place you play allows coloured, non-marking shoes on their courts. Otherwise, you may end up with a pair of shoes you can’t used.

If you are sure you can use this shoe, the next thing you will want to consider is the fit. Yonex has certainly been improving in this area in recent years, but their standard width shoes — like the Aerus 3 — typically do not fit about one third of the players our experts serve in our store. Most importantly, Yonex shoes do not fit older players very well. So before buying this shoe, we strongly recommend coming in to try it on.

Finally, there is the question of the Aerus 3’s durability. Will it be a durable shoe or will it be a disaster like the original Aerus?

ASICS GEL-BLADE 6
On the surface, Yonex Power Cushion Aerus 3 and Asics Gel-Blade 6 appear to be very similar.
On the surface, Yonex Power Cushion Aerus 3 and Asics Gel-Blade 6 appear to be very similar shoes. Both feature coloured rubber compounds on their out soles. Both feature lightweight, one piece uppers and both have some form of cushioning in the forefoot and heel.

The only major difference appears to be on the inner aspect of the shoe where Asics ™ has added some extra material to protect against drag wear. For players who are using these shoes for badminton, this extra layer to protect against drag wear won’t make any difference to the shoe’s durability. But for players who plan to use this shoe for squash or pickleball, this may be an issue that reduces durability. In other words, how you are planning to use this shoe may determine whether or not it is durable enough for your needs.

Unfortunately, at this early point both shoes are still so new that there is no way to actually compare their durability. As always, we will know more about how well this shoe wears at the end of the season than the start of the season. In the meantime, we recommend that you come in and speak to one of our experts before make a decision. Once we know what and where you will be playing, we will be better able to advise you.

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Slipping and Sliding in Badminton Shoes

yonex-shb-34-300x238

Recently, I went to play badminton with drop-in group I had never met before. I was invited by a friend who wanted me to experience for myself just how slippery the floors were in the high school gym the group called home. In fact, he was so concerned about the floors that he wanted me (as a coach) to write a letter to the school board regarding the danger to athletes forced to compete in such conditions.

“OK,” I said when invited. “I’ll come.” But I knew full well what I was going to find when I got there, so I asked my friend what his shoe size was so that I could bring some shoes to test on the slippery floors. “It won’t make a difference,” my friend warned me. “Everybody is having the same problem. It doesn’t matter what kind of shoes they wear.”

In all there were 17 players present on the night I visited. Looking around the gym about 30 minutes into the session, I saw two players in Nike running shoes and 15 in court shoes. Of the 15 wearing court shoes, two were wearing tennis shoes and five were wearing Mizuno volleyball shoes with synthetic rubber heels.

The remaining eight were wearing indoor court shoes suitable for badminton. Of these eight, five pair were models that Yonex ™ stopped selling three to five years ago, two were new budget models and one — only one pair of shoes on the 17 players present — was a new model from the recreational category.

Halfway through the two hour session, my friend stopped play so he could formally introduce me and explain that I was there to examine the floor and potentially write a letter to the school board on the group’s behalf.

The first thing I did was ask for a show of hands. “How many people are slipping and sliding?” I asked. Almost every hand in the room shot up. “OK. How many people are not having problems?” Down went 15 arms and only two went up. One was the guy in the recreational grade badminton shoes and the other was a young lady in new budget grade shoes.

Without explanation, I divided the players into two groups. I put the two players with new shoes on one side of a badminton net and everybody else on the other. Then we did a little test. I asked the large group to show me how slippery the floor was. They obliged and made it clear that they were unable to maintain traction over most of the floor on their side of the court.

Then I asked the two players on the other side of the net to slip and slide around the floor on their side of the court. Of course, they could not. “No fair,” said one of the slip-n-sliders, “That side of the room has more traction because this side of the room has the doors and benches.” OK. Fair enough. I told the groups to change sides and we repeated the experiment. The young lady with the budget shoes was able to slide a little, but the guy with the recreational grade shoes had full traction of this side just as he had on the other.

To complete my demonstration, I asked my friend (one of the slip-n-sliders) and the guy with traction to remove their shoes. I then got down on my knees with one of their shoes in each hand. Pushing down and forward, I showed them how the worn out shoe in my left hand was able to slide across the surface while the shoe in my right hand refused to slide at all. I then invited the players to try it themselves and several did.

While they were doing that, I went to my bag and took out a new pair of recreational grade badminton shoes and asked my friend to put them on. Once they were correctly tied to his feet, I asked him to demonstrate once again how bad to floor was in the gymnasium. Of course, he could not, because there was nothing wrong with the floor in the first place.

The most important feature of athletic shoes is traction. It’s not style. It’s not colour. It’s not price. It’s traction first. Fit second — and everything else is last. If you do not have proper traction, you will not play well, you will not be safe and you will expose yourself to injury.

Buy good shoes with maximum traction and take care of them. Budget shoes are suitable for players who expect to outgrow them before they wear out. They are also suitable for players who will only need them for one session. Be aware, though, that budget shoes are a false economy. While they may cost 20-30% less than recreational grade shoes, they last half as long or less. So if you are a semi-frequent player, you will be buying budget shoes twice as often as recreational grade shoes because the traction they give you will be short-lived at best.

If you take care of recreational or competitive grade badminton shoes, you may get two full seasons out of them. But beware. Even the best organic rubber dries out over time. So you will have to replace your badminton shoes regularly, even if you don’t wear them, even if you take perfect care of them. Traction should be your guide. Once it’s gone, your shoes are done. Regardless of how much you paid for them, regardless of how much you like them, once the traction is gone, it’s time to replace them.

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Best Shoe to Replace the Asics Gel-Blast

ASICS GEL-BLAST 7 2301

The end of Asics ™ Gel-Blast shoe series came suddenly and without warning to Calgary squash players. Like the death of an old friend, he was always there and then suddenly … he wasn’t.

Not everyone loved the Gel-Blast. It was too heavy for some. It was not breathable enough for others. But the shoe had legions of fans.

In our opinion, the Gel-Blast was one of the best squash shoes ever made.

The Gel-Blast 5 was breathable and definitely the most popular model ever made.

Unfortunately, Asics followed up that legendary effort by totally crapping the bed with the Gel-Blast 6. It was a fine shoe, man was it uuuuuugly.

They recovered the following season with the Gel-Blast 7 which was definitely the best version of that shoe. Then it was gone.

So what do Blast fans do now? What shoe could possibly replace such a legendary squash shoe?

Ladies and gentlemen. May we present Babolat ™ Shadow Tour 2018.

BABOLAT SHADOW TOUR BLACK-YELLOW-BADMINTON-SHOE
The Babolat Shadow Tour is a worthy replacement for the Asics Gel-Blast series.

Not the 2017, mind you. The Shadow Tour 2017 was a nice shoe, but it’s not in the same league as the 2018 model.

The 2018 model is the perfect replacement for the Gel-Blast 7.

It has an awesome Michelin gum rubber sole, a 3D printed mid-sole and a carbon fiber upper that provides at least as much stability as any shoe in the Gel-Blast series.

For squash players, this shoe provides a platform that is every bit as wide as the Gel-Blast and a slide guard that is every bit as tough at the Blast’s famous Rhino skin.

In our expert opinion, this shoe is not only equal in every way to the discontinued Gel-Blast, it is better in every way than anything made by Salming.

For that reason our staff have rated this shoe as a five star option for squash players.

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Challenge – Kobra vs Shadow Tour

BABOLAT SHADOW TOUR BLACK-YELLOW-BADMINTON-SHOE
We think you will like the new Shadow Tour better than the Salming Kobra. Take a pair for a test drive and see for yourself.
Racquet Network is betting that Calgary squash players will like the Babolat ™ Shadow Tour better than the Salming Kobra.

In fact, we are so confident that players will like Babolat’s Shadow Tour better than Salming’s Kobra that we are inviting players to take them for a test drive.

“It doesn’t matter what you compare,” says Brent Johner, owner of Racquet Network, “The Shadow Tour is better shoe than the Kobra and it costs a lot less.”

“The gum rubber is better on the Shadow,” says Johner. “The upper is more durable. The eyelets for the laces are stronger. The insoles offer a better ride and the Shadow is better ventilated than the Kobra.”

In fact, Johner describes the Kobra as “seriously overpriced.”

“The Kobra sells for $220.00,” Johner points out. “The Shadow Tour is $170.00. How can that be, when the Shadow Tour is a much better shoe?”

To make the case and to give Calgary squash players an opportunity to decide for themselves, Racquet Network has arranged to have a fleet of Shadow Tour shoes available for players to test drive. After putting down a small security deposit, players are welcome to take a pair of Shadow Tours for a 24 hour test drive.

“There are going to be a few players who think it’s worth an extra $50.00 to wear shoes with the Salming name,” Johner predicts, “but I suspect that when players who already know the Kobras try the Shadow Tours, they will prefer to save the fifty bucks.”

Players who wish to take the Kobra vs Shadow Tour Challenge may come into our southwest Calgary store anytime during the 2018-19 season.