So you’re due for a new pair of workout shoes. If it’s been awhile since you last stepped foot a sporting goods store, be prepared to be overwhelmed. You’ll be facing row upon row of different styles, colors and features, with little more than a price tag to help you pick athletic shoes that are right for you. But the choice you make matters. What goes on your feet is almost as important as what you do with them while exercising.
Besides preventing pain and injury, the right athletic shoes can actually help improve your performance. To find the right fit, keep these tips in mind:
While it may be tempting to pick up a pair of workout shoes at a big box store or department store (especially if they’re on sale), you’re best off shopping at specialty athletic footwear store. You’ll benefit from the knowledge of trained staff who know the product well and can help you find your ideal shoe. The prices may be a little higher, but the professional advice and quality make the splurge worth it.
When was the last time you had your feet properly measured? Spend the extra time with a salesperson to determine your correct shoe size and to try on different shoe options to find the right fit. Even though two different pairs of shoes may be the same size, they won’t always feel the same on your feet. Keep trying until you’re completely comfortable. (Quick tip: Your toes should have some wiggle room.)
Feet tend to expand throughout the day, so it’s best to shop for shoes in the afternoon or evening rather than in the morning. Be sure to bring along the workout socks you normally wear.
The shoes for you
If you spend a lot of time on the cardio equipment at the gym, running shoes may be best for you. Not just for running, these durable, sturdy shoes will support your feet whether you’re on the treadmill, elliptical machine, bike or rower. They’re built to last and fit a variety of foot shapes and sizes.
If weight training or classes (aerobics, kickboxing, etc.) are your thing, go with a pair of cross trainers. These shoes work well for exercises done on hard surfaces that also involve side to side movement. Look for a lightweight shoe with a firm heel and good support. Personally, for weight training, I prefer a flat-bottomed shoe.
For functional training or cross fit, you need a shoe that’s stable””good for running and the variety of other exercises that might be part of your workout of the day. If you don’t see shoes designated specifically for cross fit, ask about them.
Reserve workout shoes for workouts only
Once the right pair of shoes are on your feet, be sure to wear them only for workouts! For running errands, hanging out or any activityoutside the gym, wear a different pair of sneakers. This will extend the life of your workout shoes and make them “special”””something you look forward to wearing!
Give your feet some TLC
After putting so much effort into finding the right shoe, show your feet some love. Before workouts, apply a layer heel balm such as Natralia Heel Balm. All natural and non-greasy, this moisturizing balm helps keep heels from becoming dry and rough from regular sneaker wear.
Of course, if you have time, a relaxing foot soak is always a treat. Try an aromatherapy foot bath using Aura Cacia Tranquil Chamomile Mineral Bath salts. Follow up with a spritz of cooling Desert Essence Relief Spray, made especially to soothe tired, hardworking feet.
IFBB figure professional Melissa Transou, a fitness expert, wife and mother, blogs about the unique sports and nutrition needs of women and female athletes exclusively for Vitacost.com. Learn more about Melissa in this recent RXMuscle.com spotlight article, connect with her on Facebook or email her at email@example.com.