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Are You Wearing The Right Shoes For Your Workout?

Investing in high quality shoes is imperative to maximizing both comfort and performance during your workout. An ill-fitting shoe can cause pain and potential injury.  If you participate in a specific sport or activity more than two times per week, the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) recommends wearing a sport-specific shoe. This means that ideally you should be using different shoes for different activities. With so many available options, it can be a daunting task to decide what shoe is best for training, running, or weightlifting. The right shoe can make or break your workout. As fitness professionals, we often see our clients coming to train in “lifestyle shoes” or are using the same shoe for many or all different activities.  Below are some recommendations on proper shoes for your activity.

The Crosstrainer

Cross-trainers are built for versatility. Most of them work well for the average person because they can be used for strength training, plyometric and cardiovascular endurance activities.  Athlete sessions and our SGX classes at Fit Strength are both diverse and demand lateral movement, agility and stability. Look for a pair of lightweight cross-trainers with ankle and arch support.  

The Running Shoe

The best running shoes are designed to meet the individual runner’s needs. Each runner is unique in their style, speed and gait.  The repetitive nature of running requires extra attention to footwear in order to prevent injury and maximize comfort.  They are designed for forward motion with specific cushion in the heel and forefoot. If you wear your running shoes to the gym, they will decrease the ability to maintain a stable connection to the floor. For example, the compressible running shoe will not be able to give you adequate support when lifting heavier weights.  The neutral compressible sole of these shoes is basically like trying to lift while standing on a giant marshmallow!

The Weightlifting Shoe

To lift weights effectively, a stable foot is required. Look for a shoe that provides a flat and sturdy base like a low-profile cross-trainer. Cross-trainers, however, are not especially great for any one activity so If you are focusing specifically on Olympic lifting then you need Olympic lifting shoes. These shoes provide a rigid structure and small heel lift which enhances the stability of the foot for explosive power transfer.  Weightlifting shoes are beneficial for multiple reasons which include the ability to squat deeper while maintaining a more upright chest position which is due to the raised heel.  You don’t have to be an Olympic weightlifter to own a pair of weightlifting shoes. If you have any desire to squat heavy weight, these shoes are ideal and worth the investment to help you reach your goals.

The Lifestyle Shoe

The lifestyle shoe.  Should be used for anything but training.  Mostly all casual styles are lifestyle shoes. Purchase a casual pair of sneakers to jet around town. This will prevent wear and tear from standing or walking on your gym shoes, or your running sneakers.

Replacing Your Shoes

Once you have the right shoe for the workout, it’s important to replace them periodically. Shoes may lose their support or cushion long before they actually look worn. In fact, your body may signal shoe break down with aches or pains in your feet, shins, knees or back.  Most experts say to replace shoes every six months if you work out most days or every year if you exercise a couple of times per week. You can extend the life of your fitness shoes by using them only when you exercise.  Worn out sport shoes do not provide your feet with adequate protection during your workout. 

Final Thoughts

Make your shoes work for your exercise, not against it.  Your choice of footwear should be tailored to your personal goals. If you have any desire to squat heavy weights, investing in weightlifting shoes is highly recommended and critical to your success. If you generally enjoy exercising at the gym or another group fitness class that offers a wide variety of total body workouts, cross-trainers are typically perfect for this type of versatile training. If you’re more of a runner then consider investing in high quality running shoes specific to your running style. As always, please reach out to one of our coaches who are all Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists with questions or if you need help determining which shoe is the right fit for you!