A shoe is a shoe is a shoe…until it isn’t. Nothing can ruin a great workout quicker than feet that are killing you, and it all starts with the shoes. So let’s take a quick class I’m calling Workout Shoes 101, and learn how to make the smart choice for happier feet.
A combination of aerobic exercise and strength training will keep us tuned up and strong. These should be part of our daily routine to whatever ability we possess. And it can be difficult to stay motivated every day, particularly if working out is not your thing.
It happens to be my thing. I’m not obsessed with exercise, but am committed to it enough that if I don’t work out at all, I miss it. Even so, some days I have to push a bit harder to make sure I tune up the body.
Whether working out is your thing or not, distractions like uncomfortable workout shoes are the last thing we need. So, back to class time, where we’ll learn how to choose the best workout shoes that will help, not hurt us, as women in midlife.
First, let’s talk about some of the fundamentals for workout shoe shopping and selection:
- Bottom line, we are all unique, and for some of us that means our feet are really weird. Keep that in mind as you read this post. Some suggestions may not work for your particular tootsies.
- The best time to try on shoes is in the afternoon, not in the morning. Your feet tend to swell as you go through the day, and you’ll get a truer fit if you shop later in the day.
- Wear the type of socks you will be wearing for the actual workout to get a more accurate feel and fit.
- Avoid using old shoes that have been sitting without being used. They can become brittle.
- If you are unsure of the type of fit or style you need, especially if you have those unique, weird feet, go to a store that specializes in shoes, with sales people who know their trade.
Shoes constructed for walking are different than those made for running, so if you exclusively do one or the other, it is usually best wear a shoe that is specifically made for what you are doing.
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Shoes for Walking Workouts
If walking is your thing (like it’s my thing), here are some tips to help you select the best workout shoes:
- You might need to size up for the best fit (remember the feet-swelling comment above?)
- Don’t tie the laces too tight
- Walking shoes should have some flex in them and not be overly stiff
- A flat heel is preferred over a raised heel. Interpretation: look at the shoe and see if the back sticks up
- A good fit means the shoe is snug everywhere but not tight anywhere
- You should be able to wiggle your toes with the walking shoes on
- A running shoe may be used for walking; they are well padded, lightweight and breathable
My go-to walking shoe is from Skechers. I-LOVE-THEM! The first time I slipped my feet into these shoes I knew they were going to be my best buds when it came to walking workouts, shopping excursions, or just plain walkin’ around.
Shoes like Skechers Go Walk have been adopted by sufferers of arthritis for their light touch and gentle support, and they will work for anyone with arthritis of the knees, ankles, hips or feet.
The pair I have are very similar to the top left white pair shown below from Amazon. Check out the styling and comfort of these walking workout shoes. You can find them at many stores as well as online. And yes, I would wear them to Disney and walk for 12 hours straight with no hesitation. 🙂
If you are an Amazon Prime member, take advantage of Prime Wardrobe (shoes are part of that program!) where you’ll find many of the Skechers shoes available. Try before you buy!
Shoes for Running Workouts
Shoes used exclusively for running or jogging workouts will be your besties if you remember these tips, as they are constructed with specialized technology and design features:
- Remember to shop for running shoes in the afternoon or evening, as feet tend to spread as you run. You’ll get a more accurate fit
- There should be about one thumb width between the end of your foot and the end of the shoe
- Running shoes are designed to prevent injury from the repetitive motion of your foot hitting the ground in basically the same way
- Your foot should be centered on the platform of the shoe and not feel too pinched or too sloppy
- Be aware of any sensitive or abrasive spots, as they can lead to blisters on longer runs
- It is better to buy a shoe that is a half size too big than too small
- A quality everyday running shoe will suffice for most, and will last about 300 to 600 miles
Cross Training Shoes
If your workouts take you into the realm of lifting weights, HIIT (high intensity interval training), or other types of exercise or sports, cross trainers might be a good choice.
- heel cushioning of a running shoe,
- the lateral stability of a tennis shoe or basketball sneaker,
- and the forefoot cushioning of a volleyball shoe.
Cross trainers may be made of all leather type materials, or may have flexible materials like a running shoe around the toe or sides. The benefit of a cross-training shoe is that the shoe is versatile enough to be utilized for various activities.
Cross-trainers are designed to play multiple roles. You can use them in the gym for almost any activity — lifting weights, your yoga class, using the elliptical machine, stretching, basketball or a Zumba workout.
A word of caution, though, for runners. Cross trainers don’t provide enough cushioning and support, whether you are running outside or inside on a treadmill. Using a cross-trainer for running leaves you susceptible to foot, knee and back injuries.
Other Smart Workout Considerations
Know Your Foot Type
Lest we think that the purchase of a quality workout shoe is too simple, it’s important to understand your foot type, particularly if you tend to pronate or supinate when you walk.
I know…weird sounding words, aren’t they? But they describe how our feet roll when we walk.
Supinators tend to have high arches and roll outward, where pronators tend to have flat or low arches with feet that roll inward.
Then there are the just plain old neutral walkers, who have even weight distribution across the foot
Here is a great post from our friends at RealSimple that shows how to determine if you pronate or supinate, and what type of shoe would work best for you if you do.
What is the best shoe for you?
This is what I would want to remember about cross training shoes. They will serve you well in sports and exercise that require lateral movements.
If you’re a walker, like me, a walking shoe or a running shoe will work.
If you’re a runner, shoes made specifically for your sport are the wisest choice.
How about Barefoot Workouts?
Seems like we need to at least touch on the times it is appropriate for going barefoot during a workout. I do this every day when I whirl and twirl around my living room with Body Groove, an awesome dance workout that helped me retain my sanity as well as exercise regime when the Midwest winter weather kept me from walking outdoors.
Barefoot workouts are great for Lunges, dancing, push ups, deadlifts, squats, thai chi, and yoga.
I love to be barefoot as much as I can! If you do any of the barefoot sports, check out this post on Tucketts – freedoom for toes that I wrote recently. These are the perfect workout socks that let your feet breathe while providing some structure and slip resistance.
Well, I think our class, Workout Shoes 101, is complete. You passed.
We now know how to determine which workout shoes are best for our individual type workouts, so we can make smart choices that will motivate us to keep our midlife bodies in the best shape possible. And, our feet will be happier for it, too!