When it comes to running and working out, most people don’t take into consideration all of the different factors when choosing a pair of shoes. Usually they will go to their local sports store, pick a random pair of shoes that may or may not fit right, but probably look really cool, and call it a day. Using the wrong pair of shoes can cause all sorts of issues, such as the dreaded shin splints, knee pain, IT Band problems, etc. An important factor to take into account when picking proper shoes is how your foot strikes, what type of exercise you are doing and the support required to protect your lower body. We will start with looking at the different types of running patterns and the type of shoe needed to support each one.

The main types of running patterns are pronated, supinated and neutral. This is usually determined with a treadmill running test. If you go to a running specific store, they will have you briefly run on a treadmill while your feet are filmed. The employee will then review the footage to see your running pattern.

People who pronate tend to have flatter arches and run on the inside of their feet. These runners require motion control shoes that provide arch support and keeps your foot from rolling in. Examples of a motion control shoe would be the Mizuno Wave Paradox 2, Asics Gel Foundation or the Brooks Trance 11.

A supinated runner tends to have higher arches and strikes on the outside of the foot. This type of runner needs cushioning shoes that absorb the shock impact on the side and heel of the foot. Examples of a cushioning shoe would be the Nike Zoom Vomero 13, Brooks Levitate, and Asics Roadhawk FF.

A runner with a neutral strike tends to have a good balance of arch and whole foot striking. For these runners, stability shoes are the way to go since they combine support and cushioning to keep the foot in a neutral position. Examples of a stability shoe would be Asics GT 2000 6, Brooks Adrenaline GTS 18, Saucony Liberty ISO, and Nike Zoom Structure 21.

Not all shoes are created equal, which is why there are specific shoes depending on what type of physical activity you are completing. When it comes to picking out the right type of shoe to wear to the gym, it once again depends on the type of exercise you plan on doing. Many people make the mistake of thinking that your typical “gym shoe” is interchangeable and can be used for any exercise. A common example that we see is using running shoes for walking and vice versa. Runners strike more forefoot when they run so running shoes tend to have more cushion in that area to absorb shock impact. Walkers have a heavier heel strike, so shoes are made specifically with more cushion in the heel area for people that do more walking as exercise.

Now when it comes to playing specific sports in the gym, such as tennis, racquetball, basketball, etc. it is usually recommended to get a shoe specific for that sport. Many people will wear their typical gym or running shoe and end up injuring themselves because of the lack of support in the shoe. Sports like those rely on lateral movements the majority of the time. Running shoes have no lateral support because when running, you are moving in a forward motion. In order to protect yourself from a sprained ankle or injured knee, it is recommended to get a shoe specific for the sport you are participating in.

Now if you are just going to the gym for your typical strength training session, maybe some HIIT cardio, or even group classes, you want to look for a good pair of cross trainer shoes. These shoes have a firm heel, good sole support (don’t bend too much), and are light weight. A couple examples are Adidas Pure Boost X and Topo Athletic ST-2.

A few key points to consider when buying a pair of exercise shoes, no matter the exercise:

  • Try to buy at the end of the day. Our feet tend to swell throughout exercising, so you want to make sure your shoes fit when your feet are at their biggest.
  • Always bring the socks you intend to wear with the shoes. Different socks have different thickness so you want to make sure you have the socks you plan on wearing to ensure proper fit.
  • When in doubt, ask for help! When you go to shop for shoes at specialty stores, ask your current FAST coach what you should look for before you go. Use their expertise to make sure you have the best experience with your new pair of shoes.

Happy shopping! If you’re looking for more wellness tips and advice, check out our blog archives for some great tips and motivation to keep you on track with your wellness goals.

Foothills Acceleration and Sports Training (FAST) is empowered by Foothills Therapy Partners (FTP).