Stepping into the right shoes
Elora McAuley | Fulcrum Contributor
Photo illustration by Mathias MacPhee
OUR FEET ARE are our travellers; they take us from place to place whether we’re walking, running, biking, jumping, dancing, or skipping. They should be treated with respect, but most of us put them through hell. You would get the right tires for your car, so why not exercise the same caution when it comes to your feet? Use the Fulcrum’s basic shoe-wearing guide to help you find the right pair of sneaks for your activity du jour. It’s like with any proper workout—the right equipment is essential.
For running, the right shoe depends on the runner’s personal style. If your feet cave inwards, you are an overpronator, meaning your feet over-absorb the impact of landing. These types of feet need a shoe with extra stability. If your feet roll outwards, you are a supinator, meaning your footsies don’t absorb the impact of landing. Supinators need shoes that offer cushioning. People who neither overpronate nor supinate are best off with a neutral shoe that blends both cushioning and stability.
Recently, minimalist shoes have become extremely popular. The belief is that with little between your feet and the ground, your running style will improve. These shoes are designed to make you run slower, which gives you a better workout but can also be hard on your joints and feet. If you do decide to opt for a pair of minimalist shoes, ease yourself into them. Start by running slowly and for short periods of time, then gradually increase your speed and try longer distances. Rushing into it could put your body under a lot of stress.
There is a lot of debate over which shoes are best for weightlifting. Running shoes are not good for the weight room because their cushioning makes them unstable. Unstable sneakers increase the risk of injury and make it harder for you to control your technique. The best shoes for weightlifting should be non-slip, with a lot of stability and not much cushioning. Another belief is that the best weightlifting shoes are no shoes at all. This is because there is absolutely no cushioning when you go barefoot, which would improve your technique and give your feet more flexibility and space—you can perform better when your toes aren’t squished by your kicks. There are a few things to consider before going sans shoes, like the possibility of a weight falling on your foot, the fact that your workout facility might have rules against bare feet, and the chance of infection. Here, minimalist shoes may be your best bet.
For those who go to the gym, an important thing to note is not to use shoes designed for sports such as basketball or tennis. For most gym workouts, cross trainers are best because they support multiple areas of the foot. Shoes with a lot of cushion are recommended for activities like step aerobics, as the force that is put on your body when jumping can be up to five times your body weight. Sports like dancing and Pilates require more flexible shoes, and sports that involve a lot of lateral movement need stable shoes with a good traction pattern and slightly rounded outsoles.
So do your feet a favour, and get them the right shoes. Equally important is that they fit well. If in doubt, ask a professional. Get the right kicks—your feet will thank you.