In simpler times, a pair of shoes were suitable for all activities such as walking, cycling, running, and gardening. Now it looks the other way around. Training should fit the shoe. These days, shoe shopping can be overwhelming for first-time buyers, but don’t worry-we’re here to help you.
Shoes can be very specialized, such as those made for cycling, running, weightlifting, or even specially made for sports that cut sideways like tennis. So it gets even rougher-if you run, are you on the road? How many miles do you plan to run a week? And most importantly, how cool do you want your shoes to look? (Well, probably not the last).
These are the most common types of workout shoes you see and when they’re actually useful.
Most running shoes are designed with some form of motion control, stability, and shock absorption technology. Some shoes have additional stiffness or cushioning around the arch to reduce promotional movement, allowing the foot to roll inward from landing. The high cushioning of the heel may reduce the trauma of repeated running footsteps. Other shoes have a low heel drop and are a fancy term for how high the heel is above the forefoot. In essence, the lower the heel drop, the better it is encouraged to land on the forefoot. These features are additional bells and whistles. The real test happens when you go on the road on your own.
Minimalist shoes are designed with barefoot running in mind. As a result, it has a low heel drop (usually 0-8mm) and is very lightweight, yet has enough cushion to prevent pain and screams when landing on pointed rocks. The sole also tends to be very flexible to give the foot the freedom to move naturally. There are several minimalist “exercise” shoes designed to help you run from traditional running to barefoot.
Weightlifting shoes have high heels. Its main function is to increase the range of motion of the ankle and keep it upright. If your ankles are too flexible, you can deepen your squats. It’s also much stiffer than most other shoes, stabilizing people and preventing their feet from slipping under heavy loads. People mainly use it for squats, overhead compressions, cramps, pulls, cleaning, bench presses (for weight lifters), and some other exercises that benefit from increased ankle mobility. Some people hate picking them up, others like them. There is no harm in trying it!
If you’re serious about biking in your local spinning class or in the mountains, biking shoes are an expensive but valuable investment.
They are generally too stiff to give the feet the support needed to prevent cramps. More importantly, biking shoes combined with clipless pedals control the pedal each time you push or pull a stroke, keeping them in constant contact for more efficient force and energy transfer. Plus, you don’t have to worry about slipping your pedals out of the handlebars or, worse, losing control of your bike.
Many people also wear trail running shoes for hiking, but some hiking shoes have the added benefit of coming with a mid-cut or high-cut top to promote stability and ankle support. It looks stable, but it’s flexible and perfect for day trips.
Mountain Biking Shoes
Similar to the robustness of running shoes, mountain bike shoes have a sole that provides traction for hiking trails. It is also designed to be easily disengaged from the pedals if you need to brake or tip over.