Did you know that there are different types of shoes recommended for different kinds of workouts? Most people have one pair of shoes they use for physical activity, and don’t think much about it past that. Though there is much to consider when purchasing a pair of sneakers. Find out more below!
Online shopping for sneakers is tricky because you can’t try anything on, and unless you don’t mind buying shoes in multiple sizes, you probably want to get it right with your first order. That’s why we reached out to fit experts, from podiatrists to physical therapists, to find out how to pick the right pair of workout shoes for your needs. See what they have to say, below.
Why is important to have different shoes for different types of workouts?
Chanel Perkins, DPM, explains to Glamour that “the force you exert throughout your feet for plyometric exercises, such as hopping or jumping, is a very different type of force exerted with more isometric exercises such as lunges or squats.” This means that wearing the wrong type of shoes—say, a running sneaker while weightlifting or strength training—could strain the ligaments and muscle tendons in your toes, feet, and ankles. Which ultimately can lead to painful things like heel spurs or plantar fasciitis. No thanks.
What should you consider when shopping for workout shoes?
Until the day comes when we’re able to pull sneakers out of our screens and try them on immediately at home, Leada Malek, PT, DPT, CSCS, SCS, tells Glamour that “support, stability, and cushioning” are a great starting point for figuring out what kind of sneaker you may need while online shopping. From there, Malek says, you can look into what may be best for your foot type—either wide or narrow, high or flat arches, and the amount of ankle strength you have.
If you have strong ankles, Malek says you can wear flatter shoes for cardio exercises. But given how freeing these lightweight designs are on the foot, they definitely don’t work for everyone—especially not if you need ankle support or if your feet have a tendency to roll in or outward, which experts refer to as over- or underpronation. In these instances, Malek says you may want to opt for a stability shoe with a wider base and arch support in the middle to help even out your gait. For those with injuries or specific needs, Perkins advises picking shoes with removable insoles to allow for custom orthotics to accommodate foot concerns like plantar fasciitis or bunions.
What features make training shoes different from running sneakers or walking shoes?
For gym workouts and training programs like CrossFit, Malek says, “most brands will offer a flatter trainer with more flexibility for easier lateral and multidirectional movement.” That means if you’re doing circuit rounds of box jumps, burpees, and squats, you want to look for a cross-training shoe with a flat heel and lots of flexibility to allow for quick moves.