Getting regular exercise is a central part of any wellness routine, but make sure you aren’t sacrificing your foot health in the process. Having the right pair of shoes for any workout is essential; some provide necessary support and cushioning, while others add stability to move quickly and safely. From yoga to marathoning, here’s everything you need to know about the best shoes for your favorite workouts!
Yoga and stretching
Ideally, you’d be able to practice yoga and complete your stretching routines barefoot, but not all surfaces make that possible. If you need shoes during these workouts, look for ones that protect without adding bulk. A flexible, thin shoe will allow you to move appropriately and feel the ground, while a grippy sole can be a bonus to enhance your practice.
If you love the high-energy fun of a dance workout (think Jazzercise and Zumba), then make sure to find a shoe that will help you turn, bounce, and stay cool. For dance workouts, it’s important to remember that the floor is usually slick, so grip is paramount; however, you’ll be turning and sliding a lot, so shoes with pivot points on the soles are a good investment. Also, look for something with breathable mesh uppers so that you don’t overheat, and be sure to test out the level of cushioning so that your repeated relevés and jumps don’t take a toll on your feet.
A running shoe is designed to do two things: support your footbed and be lightweight. You’ll often find that running shoes don’t have a lot of extra support around the sides or on top, and that’s for a good reason. The extra material in those spots would add unnecessary weight to the shoe, making it harder to run at your top speed. When running, your pronation style is an important part of determining your best-fit shoe – ideally, your foot will turn slightly inward to balance pressure and push off for your next stride, so shoes that help you match that pattern will minimize injury and feel best. If you’re new to running, consider a more cushioned shoe to help with impact as you build muscle strength.
If your workouts tend to be dynamic and change day-to-day, or if you prefer HIIT or Crossfit-style exercise, then a “cross-trainer” is the best sneaker for you. Designed to support all parts of your foot, a cross-trainer is often bulkier than a running shoe – with cross-training, you need to move forward, backward, and laterally with ease. Look for a shoe that provides solid structure around your entire foot, extra cushioning on the heel and a flexible midsole for jumping. Ideally, you’ll want to test these out by moving quickly side-to-side, jumping, and doing a few quick sprints. You’ll know you’ve found the right shoe when you can complete these movements without your foot shifting inside.
The best walking shoes are ones that provide ample support and cushioning for your particular feet. Look for shoes with a wide enough toe box if you suffer from bunions and/or plenty of arch support if you get heel or shin pain. Running shoes and cross-trainers can double as walking shoes, but if you’re looking for something specific for those daily treks, try some with insoles that provide extra comfort and reduce shock.
No matter your workout choices this year, make sure that you choose the right sneakers to help you feel your best and take care of your feet!