It may not seem like your footwear impacts your workouts and your results, but it does. Choosing the right sneakers can help prevent injuries and enhance comfort as you exercise (you’ll have enough physical discomfort to deal with—at least your feet should be pain-free!). Most people consider two factors most: Style and price. Those are important, but be sure to add the following three additional factors to your checklist.
Know your feet. Do you tend to walk or run on the outside of your feet (called underpronation), or the inside of your foot (called normal pronation or overpronation)? Do you have low or high arches? There are specific sneakers that help correct each gait issue and protect your feet.
Try this test: Wet the bottoms of both feet, and step on a piece of colored construction paper. The imprint left on the paper will help you decide which type of shoe to seek.
- Full footprint: You may have flat feet and should go for a motion-control shoe.
- Ball and heel: You probably have high arches; try a neutral, cushioning shoe.
- Perfect footprint: You may have a neutral arch. A stability shoe may be your best bet.
Know your sport. Shoes are now engineered to help you perform better at your chose sport, which can also prevent injury. Ask yourself how you’ll primarily use the shoe—for running, walking, or cross-training? Choose the pair that best suits your exercise habits.
Know your fit. Don’t rush to make a purchase before you’ve taken a test drive. Try them on! Walk, jump, or run in them. Mimic some of the moves you plan to do, so you can see how they feel. Your feet may swell slightly as the day goes on, so it’s ideal to go shoe shopping at the time of day that you usually work out.