How to Choose the Right Shoe for the Gym

In Foot Facts by Alnoor Ladhani, Chiropodist

With winter swiftly approaching, those of us who enjoy jogging outside will soon be forced to renew that gym membership and start working out inside. Season changes are the perfect time to think about getting a new pair of shoes – but do you know which kind is best for the gym?

Why the Right Shoe Matters

Some people love shopping for new shoes while other people wear the same pair until the soles fall apart. But regardless of which camp you fall in, it’s imperative that you understand the significance of the shoes you wear and how they affect your health.

“Whether your workout involves running, walking, sports or gym equipment, a decent sport shoe is a must,” Edie Grace writes for Livestrong. “Injury caused by inappropriate shoes can needlessly derail your fitness or weight loss attempt. Investing in a quality shoe can help you to prevent foot and ankle damage, and make your workout a more pleasant and comfortable experience.”

 Ill-fitting shoes – or shoes that aren’t designed for the situation in which you’re using them – can cause both short-term and long-term problems. These include issues like:

  • Corns. These “plugs” of hard, dead skin build up over top bones – almost like a joint – and are usually caused by prolonged pressure to the affected area. Over time, they can become very painful and alter the way you walk and exercise.

  • Nail issues. Wearing improper shoes frequently results in nail-related problems, such as ingrown toenails. As anyone who has ever had an ingrown toenail knows, the pain can be excruciating.

  • Collapsed arches. This is the term used to describe the situation in which a person’s feet have low arches (or none at all). This problem occurs when there’s excessive tension in the Achilles tendon and the muscles at the bottom of the calf. This strains the foot ligaments in the arch of the foot and makes it painful to walk properly.

Collapsed arches

  • Upper body pain. Believe it or not, wearing the wrong pair of shoes for a long period of time can actually lead to upper body pain – specifically back pain. Your feet are your body’s foundation and any repetitive issues can lead to spinal misalignment and muscle tension.

Upper body and back pain

These are just a few examples. Whether it’s a pair of dress shoes or workout shoes, you need to pay careful attention to how they fit and what they’re doing to your body over time.

5 Tips for Choosing the Right Shoe

As you search for the perfect shoe, there are a number of things you’ll want to consider. Let’s check out a few of them:

1. Understand Your Foot Type

 Generally speaking, most people have feet that fall into one of three categories:

  • Supinators (also known as underpronators) have feet with high arches that roll outwards. If this is you, you need ample cushioning for shock absorption.
  • Neutrals have a very average gait with equal weight distribution. Shoes that provide a nice balance of support and cushioning are ideal.
  • Pronators have feet that roll inward. Flat or low arches are also quite common with this foot type. If you’re in this category, you need high-stability sneakers that allow for better foot-leg alignment.

It’s important that you understand what type of foot you have. If you’ve never taken the time to find out, start today.

 2. Consider Your Workout Routine

 “The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society recommends that the type of shoe you choose should depend on the sport you are most active in,” Grace explains. “If you perform a certain type of exercise three times a week or more, choose a corresponding sport shoe.”

The type of workout routine you participate in will, to a large degree, determine the best type of shoe. Having said that, it’s possible that you perform multiple types of exercise. For example, many people run, lift weights, and play basketball. If you can, it might be smart to purchase a dedicated shoe for each. This will ensure you get optimal support and protection in every situation.

 3. Don’t Fall for Myths

 There’s a common myth that athletic shoes aren’t supposed to feel comfortable in the store – that they’ll need to be broken in first. Do not fall for this! If a shoe doesn’t feel comfortable in the store, it’s never going to feel comfortable.

It’s also a myth that the more expensive the shoe is, the better it must be. While a $100 pair of shoes is probably better than a $35 pair, you’re not going to get enough value out of a $300 pair to justify the cost. At this point, you’re just paying for the logo on the shoe.

4. Try Shoes On Properly

When buying a new shoe for the gym, few things are more important than trying the shoe on. But instead of using the little disposable socks they give you at the store, bring your own socks – the exact kind you’ll wear when you work out. If you wear an orthotic, bring this as well. Otherwise, you don’t really know how the shoe will fit.

5. Know When to Replace

Finally, you should know when to replace your shoes. Just because a shoe has held up well and looks good (visibly), doesn’t mean it’s still giving you the right stability and cushioning. Runners need to be especially cognizant of this and replace shoes fairly frequently.

Schedule Your Appointment Today

Your feet aren’t something you spend a whole lot of time thinking about, until you experience some sort of issue or discomfort – at Step by Step, we’ve made it our obsession to care for your feet. We specialize in treating a variety of common foot ailments through a number of services and high-quality products.

Whether you’re looking for the perfect pair of shoes or need to see a foot care specialist to help you with a diagnosed foot problem, we’re here for you. Contact us today and we’d be happy to schedule an appointment that’s convenient for you!