Are you a walker? Runner? Cross-fit enthusiast? Gym member? Recreational athlete? Whatever your workout, wearing the correct footwear is essential to maximizing your workout and fitness level, but to keeping you healthy. The wrong shoes can lead to painful injuries and interrupt your program.
Taking the time to select the best fitness footwear can make your workout much safer and more effective. Selecting the right shoe can help to prevent injuries, lessen the impact of your impact of your step and cushion your feet from heavy landings. It can also increase your performance by supporting the type of movement common to your fitness activity, such as quick changes in direction.
The wrong workout shoes can raise the risk of injury, from fractures and ankle strains and sprains to bunions, corns and even Metatarsalgia, which shows up as pain the ball of the foot.
While many types of sneakers look the same, it’s essential to match your shoes to your fitness activity. For instance:
- Walking sneakers might have more overall and heel cushioning than running sneakers. Walkers do best with shoes that are flexible through the ball of the foot to support the arch as well as the weight rolling from the heel through the ball of the foot to the toe. Walking in a running shoe, which typically has less cushioning, could lead to injuries including Achilles Tendinitis, stress fractures and plantar fasciitis, along with pain in your knees, hips or back.
- Running shoes or cross-trainers won’t work for tennis, where the motion is side-to-side rather than forward and backward. Tennis shoes should be stable with flat treads that allow quick changes of direction.
- Crossfit shoes for a combination of cardio and strength training should provide a balance of minimal support, a stable base and freedom of movement. They might work for walking, but are not recommended for running long distances.
- Sneakers are not recommended for dance exercise classes like Zumba, where more flexible, non-tread footwear allows for a wider range of movement with less risk of injury.
- Weightlifting shoes are typically stiffer than most other shoes for stability, and some experts recommend that they should have a raised heel to increase the ankle’s range of motion and help keep your body upright and squat more deeply without shifting around. They might be difficult to wear for other activities, including walking around the gym.
- Cycling shoes are lightweight, aerodynamic and fit to fit a bit more snugly than some other fitness footwear, and they have different types of cleats depending on whether they’ll be used for outdoor cycling and indoor spinning.
- Boots are recommended for backpacking, especially if your ankles aren’t stable and you plan on longer hikes while carrying a heavy load. These boots tend to be heavier and rise above ankles for strong support. They also tend to have stiffer midsoles.
Here are some common mistakes to avoid:
1. Wearing Shoes that are Old
Worn-out workout shoes can lead to pressure shifting in your legs to cause foot injuries and possibly even your skeletal tissues. According to experts, you should replace running shoes every 350 to 500 miles—checking the mid-sole of the shoes, where damage is likely to show up sooner. Replace walking shoes every 6 to 9 months or around 1,000 to 1,500 miles of walking.
2. Wearing Workout Shoes for Other Activities
Even if your fitness shoes feel great, resist the temptation to wear them for other activities like running errands, shopping, or other forms of exercise. Your workout shoes are an important investment, and you want to wear them wisely based on your activity.
3. Not Buying the Right Size
Wearing shoes that are too tight or too loose can raise the risk of toe damage including hammertoes, bunions, and even the possibility of a fracture. Tip: As with all types of shoes, the best time to shop is in the afternoon, when your feet are at their largest size.
4. Not Getting the Proper Foot Support
Proper support is critical for all kinds of fitness footwear, so take the time to find the right combination of heel and arch support, cushioning and shock absorption to minimize the chance of injuries.
5. Tying Your Shoelaces Wrong
Shoelaces that are too tight for easy movement or too loose for strong support can cause shin and ankle pain and even safety issues.
6. Wearing Shoes that are Too Tight
Shoes that are too narrow can squeeze nerves and tendons, leading to the pain of tendonitis. They can also cause to bunions or blisters.
7. Not Buying Shoes for Your Foot Type
Are you flat footed? Do you have a high arch? Do you know whether your feet pronate or supinate? We strongly recommend a foot-and-gait analysis to ensure that you’re getting the right support for your feet and body at all times.
While this can feel overwhelming, remember that Foot Solutions can help you find the right fitness footwear. Our FREE Holistic Foot Analysis, lifestyle and alignment evaluation and expert shoe-fitting make it easier than ever to identify the best shoes for your body, lifestyle and fitness activities.