Fitness Articles

Find the Perfect Workout Shoe for You

Meet Your Sole Mate

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Your feet work hard every day, carrying you through your daily tasks while you walk, stand, carry, lift, climb, clean, work, and exercise. If you neglect your feet—especially during a workout—then your feet with have to deal with swelling, blisters, and lasting discomfort on top of everything else.

One of the best ways to care for your feet is to invest in a good pair of workout shoes. There is nothing worse than trying to work out when you're experiencing pain and risking possible injury. To improve your workouts, look for a high-quality shoe with a good fit that is made to support the activities you do.

Although most people buy running shoes even if they have never jogged, the shoes you buy should be specific to the activity that you will be using them for.
  • Running shoes have additional cushioning to absorb shock as your foot hits the ground, which helps to reduce blisters. They are flexible and light. Traditional running shoes are designed for forward motion, so they don't support you well when you move in other directions (like during basketball or step aerobics). Barefoot running and minimalist running have gained popularity in recent years.  These shoes are lightweight and flexible and have very little padding or support.
  • Trail shoes have added traction for running and walking in grass, mud, or trails.
  • Walking shoes tend to be stiffer and heavier than running shoes. These provide more support because your foot rolls from heel to toe more slowly than when you run.
  • Cross-training shoes are great for people who have a varied workout routine or play different sports. This is the most versatile athletic shoe, designed to give more support for changes in direction and impact, making them an economical choice. They're heavier and less cushioned than running shoes and not recommended if running is your main mode of training.
  • Specialty shoes exist for weight lifting, cycling, hiking, tennis, basketball, soccer, and more. If you engage in these activities several days per week, consider buying a sport-specific shoe to fit your needs.
  • Lifestyle shoes are not made for athletic activities, even though they are made by the same manufacturers who make running and workout shoes. These shoes have flat soles and a sporty look, but not enough support for workout. They're fine for running errands or casual wear, but don't make them part of your exercise gear. Continued ›
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About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.

Member Comments

  • This was a very informative article. Thank you so much!! - 5/27/2016 9:15:51 AM
  • Thank you. I now know which shoes are the appropriate one's I should purchase. There will be a few different kinds to make the most out of what I want. - 1/18/2016 12:39:20 PM
  • Of course, this is assuming you have a specialty store in your area that carries the brand of shoes you like, fit well, and won't cost the mortgage payment to buy them. Otherwise, you do the best you can. I don't have the money to spend over $150 on a pair of exercise shoes. - 12/3/2015 12:08:53 PM
  • As a flat footed person, the information is right on target. Even though I know what to get, it helps to review the reasoning. Will save this to review again later. - 11/20/2015 9:55:35 AM
  • If the shoe seller doesn't know what a woman's or a man's LAST is ~ walk away!!!
    The last is the "form" which shoes are made from. For many years all shoes were formed from the last of a MAN's foot!!! Yes!! Now shoe makers are getting the point, but if you walk into a sport's store and they can't tell you if the shoe is made from a man's or a woman's last, they don't know what they are talking about. Be careful with sports shoes and hiking shoes in particular. The people helping you should be experts, not inexperienced sales clerks, someone in the store should be educated or walk away! - 10/28/2015 1:28:51 PM
  • There is no truer advice. I got a stress fracture (broken toe) on my right foot from a combination of poor footwear and an over aggressive orthotic insert! I was in a "boot" for three months and couldn't do much of anything. Gained the 10 pounds I lost which was the pits! Buy good footwear, spend time and get the right thing, and if you have orthotics made to correct your foot problem make sure to follow up regularly with the orthotic technician for regular adjustments, your foot will adjust and the orthotic needs to be "honed" to adjust for the correction. I learned the HARD way! - 10/28/2015 1:23:53 PM
  • One of the healthiest things we can do is walk barefoot in grass or on a beach daily. It's called earthing.

    I tried every which shoe to help me with low back pain, and not one of them dis a thing for me; neither did costly orthotics. What helped was to address my core muscles. Once I strengthened them, my low back pain disappeared, and now it doesn't much matter what I wear unless I am going for a long hike. I never run. Two of my sisters have destroyed their feet and knees running. - 10/9/2015 9:49:40 AM
  • I'm always annoyed with bad fitting sneakers becuase my size isn't made in sneakers. 10 is too small and 11 is too big, I'm a 10.5 and that actually does not exist in sneakers:( Stupidest thing I've ever seen in my life. - 9/3/2015 8:50:41 AM
    I love my Nikes. If you're looking for a top running shoe that you can wear any other time too you've got to go with Nikes! Don't believe me? Ask anyone.
    Reviews everywhere agree too. That's just my opinion i suppose but i don't see why anyone would decide against Nikes. - 8/11/2015 1:32:11 PM
  • When I was ready for some new walking shoes I walked in a shoe store and told the clerk. He led me to some shoes and waved his hand across the entire section saying "All the shoes here are walking shoes". After trying on practically all the shoes I finally settled on a pair that was not as uncomfortable as the others. As it turned out what I bought was just a pair of cute shoes and not walking shoes. I spent a lot of money that was slotted for athletic shoes not fashion shoes. I should have researched before buying. - 5/14/2015 7:54:56 AM
  • I have had problems with my feet all my life and being knocked kneed. My feet roll over at any nano second. Resulting in sprained ankles. My tendons in my ankles are all stretched out now. Surgery has been offered to shortened them for more stability but I'm used to it now. I also have suffered plantar fasciitis several times. I can't just pick any shoe off the rack. I have to walk around the store in them.
    Good workout shoes is a MUST. I never really understood the difference until I was turned on to a good pair. What a different that made! Yes, I did go through several different makers until I found the ones that worked best for me and yes, they were costly....but worth every penny - 3/14/2015 9:48:40 AM
  • Anyone that has problems with plantar fasciitis I have found that the need for braces is non-resistant with a shoe called KURU. The shoe has great arch supports. - 3/14/2015 9:33:44 AM
  • This article was the most helpful one I have read thus far. Thank you! - 3/14/2015 7:53:00 AM
  • Following the advice in this article is exactly what I credit with keeping me running (and walking) injury free for nearly 30 years.

    I've seen many shoe fads come and go, but I stick to the tried and true advice and my "difficult" feet - flat, severely overpronating with even an extra bone (yeah, there's such a thing) are just fine.

    I do replace my shoes every 6 months or 500 miles, whichever comes first. I don't spend much on fashion, but my feet are worth it. - 2/12/2015 8:33:36 AM
  • More important to me than a good shoe and even an orthotic in sole, was to learn to use my core muscles properly when I walk! - 2/11/2015 10:32:40 AM

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