What a Difference a Shoe Makes

Thursday, November 08, 2012

I said this yesterday, but I'm going to say it again, what a difference a shoe makes! I've been shopping around for a new pair for months (read: f o r e v e r). I've read top 10 lists, visited specialists shops, looked for sales, tried more pairs on, read blogs, articles, amazon reviews. All it did was give me endless options. The Internet is a great resource for information, there is just so bloody much of it! It is impossible to narrow anything down.

People either favour brands because they trust them, or they provide something unique - New Balance, for example, makes trainers that are good for wide feet. Asics Gels are popular among people with knee problems. Bloch trainers are ideal for Zumba. Those five-fingered foot things are good for running, walking and doing lunges & squats in the park (thanks Mark Sisson!).

At the same time, you have die-hard running shoes fans - people who wear them for the gym as well as dancing, circuits, and the aforementioned running. They would never wear anything else. This includes one of my Zumba instructors - but then she is young and fit with no problems. She could probably dance barefoot and by fine. I even read an article written by a foot doctor who claimed one trainer can fit all and all the rest is marketing. This sounded dubious to me but what do I know? I only know what fits and what feels right for me. Except, how can I try on all the shoes in the world and find the ideal one?

After returning to a popular sports shop twice and interrogating the salesperson extensively, I finally (reluctantly) handed over my money and bought my shoes. Even though they were really cute, I had to stop myself from immediately returning them. I'm not exactly sure why. In the past, I've bought expensive shoes I've only worn a few times, because they looked pretty, only to find I couldn't wear them unless I was sitting down all night. So why the buyer's remorse? Granted, I usually don't pay much for trainers. I pick up whatever I find on sale and wear them occasionally for errand running. But this was Serious Business - or it felt like it. My knees were counting on it.

Yesterday I debuted my new shoes. I carried them in my backpack and wore my old ones to walk to the gym. I know, more insanity right? I'm usually the type of person to break something in immediately. I didn't even know if I would like them but already I was 'saving' them.

My trainer was the first to notice. 'Nice shoes', he called out. I suddenly felt conspicuous. OMG, did they look really ostentatious? Did they not match my outfit? Was trainer pulling my leg? It turns out he wasn't. 'Do they make those in my size?' he enquired. I doubted it, since he was a size 11.5 and these only came in girly colours. He asked me to take them off so he could feel the memory foam and then showed me a older model he was wearing. He said they were the most comfortable shoe he had ever worn and even with all the classes he taught, they held up. Well worth the money. Still I wasn't convinced, even though right in front of me was a walking/talking advertisement.

I think trainer purposely put me through my paces to test out my shoes. He kept asking me, 'How does they feel, how do they feel?' I would have answered him if I had any leftover breath for talking. As it was, I gasped away most of the class. But, for the first time ever, I had no pain whatsoever in my joints. Trust me, I am skeptical enough for all of us. Whatever arch support/memory foam genius technology my shoes are selling, it wasn't all marketing - and enough to keep my knees happy.

After my workout, I changed out of my shoes and back to my old trainers for the long walk home. That's when I felt the first twinge of the day. First, low in the arch, then in the right ankle bone and finally it worked its way up my knee where it remained. So there must be something to this shoe business, right?

Now I'm looking for a new pair I can walk around in. Oh and while I'm at it, I'm in the market for Zumba shoes and those toe-thingies. I'm such an all or nothing girl.

So, fellow Sparkers, are you a loyal brand user or do you try a variety of products until you find something that suits you?
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • no profile photo CD11026554
    So what did you go for in the end?
    I wear Birkenstock sandals in the summer as they have a good support. I swear by Saucony Omega for running, have tried other brands but these are the only ones that don't give me blisters somewhere or other. I have very narrow feet.....don't know if that makes a difference.
    3082 days ago
  • ADELE66
    Shoes when you are exercising are important, no doubt! I couldn't care less about brands or what they look like - all I care about is how they feel.

    When I finally sadly realised that I had to buy a new pair of hiking boots I spent two hours at a hiking specialist shop walking around in them, testing them on the different surfaces and slopes they had in the shop, getting inner soles fitted properly and so on. They are the ugliest pair of boots you ever saw, but I can walk all day and feel like I am walking on clouds!

    Don't be fooled by the hype or the marketing or the cost.... get whatever feels right for you!

    3082 days ago
    Am wondering what you bought, I am being a bit slow maybe but I can't make it out from your blog.

    This week I bought a pair of walking boots and returned them the next day. Part of the reason was that I just feel really nervous about spending that kind of money to put on my feet.
    3082 days ago
    Gel Asics Kayanos (sp?) with an orthotic does it for me. I have several New Balance for walking/work, but I found the the Asics work best for my "running" a.k.a chugging along.
    3083 days ago
  • no profile photo CD13005102
    I live in flip flops for the 8 months out of the year then basic sneakers for the winter. I can't wear heels or sandals at my job so sneakers are the route I have to go. I'm in the market for two new pairs of shoes though. Ones for my basic workouts and ones for my future Turbo Jam workouts (I'm 90% sure I'm going to try Zumba shoes). I tend to splurge a little more on sneakers though because I want them to last a while. Plus I walk on concrete at my job. Brand doesn't matter to me, just quality!
    3083 days ago
    love shoes!
    3083 days ago
    I could not care less about brands as long as it is minimalist, not just for running, but for anything I do. Vibram Five Fingers are nice but not necessary. Anything flat, no cushion, no arch support, no heel and a big toe box and my feet are happy. emoticon
    3083 days ago
    I'm a loyal brand user until I find something that works better emoticon

    I started off in a Mizuno (I wear the men's shoes instead of women's because of my wide feet, most women's shoes are not quite wide enough and I didn't like the New Balance the one time I bought them. My feet always hurt.) But I had to start wearing an orthotic with them on the last pair I bought so I started looking again and switched over to a Brooks.

    Switching to a good shoe after making do with whatever is like Heaven. You really realize how bad off your feet and legs and knees were once you get into the right pair of shoes.

    My only complaint is because of the type of shoe I need I don't get to wear the flashy cool looking shoes. My type is always plane Jane boring.
    3084 days ago
    I need to find a new pair of trainers to buy. My most comfortable ones are a pair I bought in Lidl about 7 years ago for a really bargain price. I really don't think they are going to last much longer, but they are just SO, SO comfortable.

    Since I've lost a few pounds I no longer need the orthotics as it was my weight causing the (luckily) short-lived plantar fasciitis in my right foot only. Now I need to find a cure for my 2nd toe which causes me pain at all sorts of odd times....
    3084 days ago
    I am loyal to New Balance, but mostly because my feet are wide. I too get joint pain, and back trouble if I don't wear shoes with good support. I also find that when even good comfy shoes get too old, the joint pain returns-I think the support gets smashed down over time and loses its effect.
    3084 days ago
  • no profile photo CD9922996
    I wear Clarks, Ecco and Ryka. Comfort, support and durability is worth the price! Thank God for Zappos who offers us free shipping both ways for bringing a world of great shoes right to my computer!
    3084 days ago
  • ADZY86
    Yes yes yes! I've only recently discovered how important the right shoes are. I used to be a 'buy whatever is the cheapest' kind of girl, but since I've got serious about working out, I know I can't afford to have any problems later in life, so I have to start looking after my feet and joints now. I have a great Nike pair that feel soooo comfortable when I'm running and playing netball and badminton, and they don't hurt my feet at all. I like Asics too.
    3084 days ago
  • no profile photo CD13203638
    I only ever wear shoes runners Cost me $250 with an orthotic I put in it another $60 at home. plus I wear orthotic sandle shoes and or orthotic thongs in the summer with the arch support built into the shoe. They are the best.

    I used to buy cheap shoes all the time now without orthotics or orthotic shoes i can tell the difference for sure. No more feet pain etc...

    Good luck I think everybody even without problems should wear good quality shoes it is definately worth it in the long run.

    Take Care, emoticon

    3084 days ago
  • no profile photo BIGDOG18
    3084 days ago
  • no profile photo CD2244567
    OH YES!
    3084 days ago
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