To start it off, there is no one right answer because everyone has different exercise needs. So then how do you know what type of shoe will best fit your needs. Well, I’m gonna break down a few different types of people who work out:
Walking shoes, above all else need to be comfortable. On The Walking Site, they describe some key elements for a good walking shoe which include:
- A rounded heel
- Flexible sole
- Lightweight and breathable
- A good fit with some room in the toe
Other than the basics, you want to think about how and where you’ll be walking. If you’re walking at night, make sure you get reflective shoes. If you’ll be walking in or around water, ask them to waterproof it.
First and foremost, you should never go hiking in regular tennis shoes. The main reason why occurs on behalf of ankle support. Most tennis shoes are low-rise and don’t provide the ankle support that you need in order to go hiking. The less ankle support, the better chance of getting a sprain. That said, you don’t have to get high top hiking boots for every hike. I personally use a multi-sport pair from Vasque to do everything from casual hikes to hiking Half Dome in Yosemite.
Second, you want to identify what type of hiking you will be doing, whether it’s mountaineering, backpacking, standard hiking, trail running or amphibious hiking. Identify what type of hiker you are and that will really narrow things down for you.
Next, understanding the brands is very important..Hiking and Backpacking has a great article that lists some of the more popular brands of hiking shoes. Everyone knows who the established running shoe manufacturers are, but not many know who are the established hiking manufacturers.
I’ll bet you’re saying “Why would you have to have a special shoe for weightlifting?” I’ll tell you why! Running shoes are all about decreasing shock. Weightlifting shoes are all about transmission of power, traction against the floor and control according to Lon Kilgore, Ph.D. and Mark Rippetoe, CSCS in their Weightlifting Shoes 101:
When we lift weights we want two things to happen; (1) all the force our body produces under the bar should contribute to moving the weight and (2) the weight needs to be controlled in a safe manner. If we lift in a running shoe, it’s akin to trying to lift while standing on a giant marshmallow… But in the weight room, shoes should provide for the efficient transmission of power between the bar and the ground…
To be stable and perform optimally, a weightlifting shoe needs to be snug fitting, provide exceptional support, and have a noncompressible wedge sole with neoprene or crepe for traction against the floor.”
So if you are engaging in weightlifting with free weights, don’t make your running shoes be dually designated as your “gym shoes”!
Ah yes, the cornucopia of choice! This one can be tough. Questions to ask include: Are you a sprinter (HIIT training)? Are you a long distance runner? Are you a casual jogger? All three of these questions will yield different shoe choices. They’re just like tires on a car. You wouldn’t put Nascar tires on an RV, so give your feet the same type of specialization and attention.
Here’s a two part article on Cool Runnings that can really help you decide what type of running shoe is right for you.
If you’re the typical run-to-exercise person like I am, I would suggest sticking with Nike and New Balance. Why? Well, New Balance provides in depth measuring including the width of your feet and Nike pretty much wrote the book on running shoes. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?
Next time we’ll take a look at different types of footwear for specific sports… so stay tuned!
photos provided by Flickr users h.koppdelaney, suburbanbloke, rich115, ericmcgregor