Happy Friday TrAk Fam! We get this one A LOT - what's the right shoe to workout in? A hotly debated and ultimately confusing question for good reason, because the answer is, well... it depends!
BUT, we're here to help you break it down, so you can ultimately and confidently make the right decision for YOU.
If you throw this question in the ol' search bar these days you're likely to get a lot of something along the lines of "Top 11 Best Workout Shoes for Men/Women 2022" yada yada yada, in which they list the latest and greatest installments of fancy footwear (ie. expensive). If you're into that sort of thing, power to you! But if you're looking for function, and most likely what's going to help keep you safe and moving well, there may be some more options for you to explore. Before we can figure out the answers, we've got to know what questions to ask. So let's start with these: What's your workout? What are your feet like? What have you trained in before? What are your goals?
Running - obviously there are a TON of running shoes out there to choose from. Typically you're going to find a lot of cushion for shock absorption and grippy-er tread for road running. If you are looking for a versatile shoe that you can wear to the gym and on a quick run here and there, a straight up running shoe probably isn't going to be your first choice. There also is some debate on whether or not it is necessary/beneficial to wear a stability shoe if you struggle with overpronation (a medial post underneath the arch to prevent the foot from collapsing inward). Some would argue that this is necessary to prevent injuries, but large scale studies like this one and this one have failed to actually prove this hypothesis to be true. It seems the best thing to look for is max comfort and proper fit, and no one else is going to be able to tell you what that feels like better than you. It is also wise to consider the type of running you do, and then hone in from there.
Weight Lifting - a good pair of weight lifting shoes in general are going to have these key features: a wide toe box and a flat sole (something that will allow the toes to splay out, and the heel and the toes to be in line with one another). This is because, especially with lower body lifts, our feet work to help us lock into proper form. Knowing what features to look for means that you don't HAVE to buy those pricey and popular lifting shoes, you can find these features in all kinds of shoes. Doesn't hurt to throw this out there, either: it's actually not a bad idea to go barefoot for your lifts from time to time. This allows you to tap into greater proprioception, really feeling into the floor and making adjustments to technique, ultimately enhancing the quality of your movement and workout. The whole point of a good weight lifting shoe is to mimic no shoes. So why not try no shoes sometime?
Overall Workout (Metcons/Cross-trainers) - built for versatility, durability, and efficiency (think both time and money), a good pair of cross-trainers can get you far if you are a general gym goer, and like to mix it up a bit with your workouts. Cross-trainers generally will have some cushion and padding, but not as much as a typical running shoe, and not necessarily in the same areas on the foot. Cross-trainers will aid with more side-to-side movement, and toe support, to provide stability in a variety of movements across different planes. If you're throwing in short bursts of running into your workouts, these will work great! If you're going for a lot of long distance runs then it is likely wise for you to invest in a pair of running shoes specific to distance. Again, the right pair for you are going to need to fit well and ultimately feel comfortable, so be sure to try a few on and move around before you buy!
Minimalists - or barefoot shoes, or minimal shoes, or shoeless shoes - common features will include a flat, thin, very flexible sole, lightweight, wide toebox, no arch support and a secure fit on your feet. Like a weightlifting shoe but trying even harder to not be a shoe. There is some debate on the pros and cons of these ones, and there is a little research coming out to help back findings with quantifiable data, but not a ton just yet. Larger scale studies on running in barefoot/minimalist shoes have wound up inconclusive due to variables, but this study found that walking in minimalists as compared to fully barefoot resulted in better gait performance. Many proponents for minimalist shoes will argue that they help the individual to achieve more natural movement, in part by allowing the sensory receptors in the feet to do their job in sending info to the brain and thus improving body mechanics. Furthermore, providing enough space for the toes to spread allows these important ligaments and muscles to work and strengthen, providing the body with a good base of support. If you're thinking about making a switch from your usual shoes over to barefoots, it is worth mentioning that depending on how much cushion/arch support/etc. you've been used to, the transition might take a bit of time to ease into.
Yoga/Barre/Pilates (+ weightlifting!) - not to belabor the point, but we feel it's worth noting that there are plenty of types of movement you can and should hit completely shoeless. Yoga, barre, pilates are all obvious, and we think if you feel comfortable giving it a try, hitting your next weightlifting session no shoes just to see how it feels is a good idea, too! There are over 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons in the foot, and just like any other part of the body, these bad boys stand to benefit from a variety of exercises.
So there you have it, we've got you covered! You'll never find yourself thinking "ahhh maybe I better skip this workout, I don't know what shoes to wear!" again. We've also got the perfect place for you to break in your shoes to fit your specific goals and needs. Click the link below to get started at TrAk today with a free 14 day trial!