Finding YOUR Fitness Footwear

Shopping for exercise shoes? Finding the right pair is challenging. When choosing a shoe, you must consider the sport and movement patterns for which you will be wearing the shoes. Here are a few things to think about when shoe shopping. Try shoes on in the afternoon, while wearing typical socks. Tie laces securely, but not so tight that pressure is felt on top of the foot. They should have a sufficiently wide heel and a firm heel counter (material attached around the heel that supports the foot) to assist ankle stability. A softer sole is best to absorb shock. The liner generally does nothing to help absorb shock and if need be can be replaced by an orthotic. Most people often roll their foot inward upon landing. This can cause the arch to flatten and cause excessive stretch on the underside of the foot. Those that roll inward when landing need stability. Larger people and people with high arches need more cushioning. Shoes worn 3-5 times a week should be replaced a minimum of once a year for optimal performance. Most importantly, shoe shop for your purpose and your movement, not for the color or popularity.

Running Shoes

Running shoes are only designed for one plane of movement and lack the necessary lateral stability that other activities such as some group fitness classes and sports require.

Dance Shoes

Many classes such as Zumba and hip hop classes require twisting and pivoting movements. The shoe needs to bend so you can get on your toes. The sticky soles of an aerobics shoe provide too much friction when rotating. Choose a lightweight shoe with a thin, flexible sole and a forefoot designed for pivoting and rapid direction changes.

Aqua Shoes

What to wear in the water? Sandals and surfing shoes may be used to walk through the water, but neither are appropriate for water classes. Tempted to go barefoot? Only deep-water participants should do so. You should look for shoes that are specifically designed for the water exercise because waterlogged land shoes place undue stress on the knees.

FiveFinger (toe) Shoes

Shoes that stimulate being barefoot, such as Vibrams, are increasingly popular. There are mixed feeling about the safety of toe shoes. Some researchers feel that shoes like the Vibrams are great because they offer foot protection with minimal ankle and arch support and allow users to use their natural gait. Other researchers feel that the very purpose of an athletic shoe is to correct the user’s gait to create safer movement patterns and ideally decrease the chances of injury.

References: Dawson-Cook, Susan. (2012). Navigating the footwearmire. American Fitness, 42-43.

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