Gym shoes: Why it’s important to get the right ones and how to choose them

by fitness journalist

If you’re thinking about going to the gym more in 2018, you’ve already won half the battle.

Often the hardest thing about starting to work out is get to the gym in the first place. Once you’re there, it’s easy to get going.

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One thing you will need before you get in there though, is the right footwear.

We spoke to ’s Melody Vasey to find out why it’s important to get the right pair of traning shoes for you.

Why you need a proper shoe

The main reason for making sure you’ve got a decent pair of sports shoes is to avoid injury.

No matter whether you’re running, walking or weightlifting, if your feet and ankles lack proper support your journey to fitness could be put on hold. 

Wearing a good quality shoe is imperative to prevent damage to these areas and keep your workout a comfortable experience.

How to choose the right shoes

Melody explains that getting the right shoes depends on what kind of exercise you’ll be doing the most.

Different exercises will challenge your feet in different ways and therefore, your feet will need different levels of support.

Here is her guide for four different types of exercise.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

“High Intensity Interval workouts, which incorporate explosive multi-directional movements, box jumps and weight bearing activity like squats and lunges, mean that your shoes need to absorb impact, be light and agile, yet have a stable base for power and continuous, fast lateral movements,” Melody says.

HIIT shoe

She recommends looking for cross trainers with these features:

  • Strong lateral support to help stabilise the foot;
  • Cushioning to absorb shock;
  • A firm and low profile for stability;
  • Light for agility;
  • Generous, flexible forefoot for natural foot flexion and to let your feet splay.

Weightlifting and strength training

“If your gym haven is the weights room, your priorities are going to be stability, grip and power to optimise lifts,” she says.

“Some lifters prefer to go barefoot and allow the foot to provide natural stability, other people prefer a shoe that delivers a firm, flat grip on the ground for a stable base and to prevent slipping and sliding.”

Weightlifting shoe

If you are looking for shoes for Olympic-style lifts though, this is what she says you should look out for:

  • Raised, high density heels, allowing better ankle mobility for a deeper squat and upright torso for optimum power;
  • Hard, dense soles which maximise your ability to drive force into the ground for powerful lifts;
  • Stay away from cushioned soles that compress;
  • Seriously supportive uppers;
  • One option is to go for zero drop natural shoes which have firm soles, supportive uppers and a wide forefoot to allow the foot to splay for stability.

Treadmill running

“If you’re only running for short periods and combining this with a lot of other activities, then it’s ok to wear your cross trainers on the treadmill,” Melody explains.

“If you’re putting in a lot of minutes and miles, you’ll need a running-specific shoe to properly support and protect your feet.

“The type of running shoe you’ll need will depend on your running gait, which ultimately comes down to your level of pronation. This is the inwards rolling of the foot through your footstrike, and the body’s natural way of absorbing shock. So, it’s helpful to know whether you’re a neutral runner, an overpronator, or an underpronator.

“You can find this out by looking at your arch type through the wet footprint test or through gait analysis. The right shoe will help you run more efficiently for better performance and – importantly – helps reduce your risk of injury.”

Treadmill shoe

On the whole, you should look for cushioning technology in the rear and forefoot to help absorb impact, but if you’re an overpronator, you’ll need a shoe with additional support on the inside of the shoe to help slow down the rate of excess inwards rolling.

Dance-based studio workouts

“For Zumba and other dance-based workouts you’ll need agility and sure-footedness for fast multi-directional footwork and spins,” she says.

Dance shoe

For beginners, Melody explains it is best to start with dance-specific studio shoes with good shock absorption and a supportive heel counter to help protect and support your feet.

This may, however, give you less freedom to express yourself, so as your get more advanced you can change up to a lighter shoe with thinner soles and less cushioning and support.

“This will give you more flexibility and allow you to move more fluidly,” Melody adds.

This content was originally published here.

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