Know Your Exercise Shoes
Before You Buy

Use these tips to shop for the best exercise shoes suited only for you.

I mean it's easy to buy the wrong footwear (fitness shoes, exercise footwear, fitness footwear, athletic shoes - whatever you want to call them!).

I surely (and sorely) have got it wrong before. They looked amazing in the shop.

The bright lights and angled mirrors showed me all I needed to see, straight in the bag. Huge mistake. When it comes to exercise shoes, looks aren't everything!

If you exercise at all, the right footwear will go far in preventing (avoidable) injuries. What is the right footwear? Well unless you find really honest sales staff, you could end up with a sales pitch and the wrong shoe.

Your feet will have very specific needs. The key is knowing those needs and buying accordingly. Here are my top tips that you can use when you go shopping for exercise shoes.

Feet Types

Test your foot shape by walking or running on some paper with wet feet.

  • High arched feet..
    Your wet foot shape will have a very thin connection between heel and toes. The best shoes for you should be flexible and cushioned with a soft mid-sole.

  • Flat feet..
    Your wet foot shape will show your whole foot (the connection between heel and toes will be the whole width or even wider than your foot). The best shoes for you should have good stability and support.

  • Neutral feet..
    Your wet foot shape will have a connection between your heel and toes which is about half the width of your foot. It is neither one of the above extremes. You're lucky because you have the most choice! Your best shoes should have a combination of cushioning and support, but not loads of either.

  • Speciality Shoes

  • Walking shoes.. aimed at more serious walkers. These are more flexible, especially at the toes. It's best to have a slightly undercut heel to aid walking technique. They should only be used for walking as they're not suitable for running.

  • Cross-country (trail) shoes.. these have more grip and stability for use on surfaces off the road (or treadmill). They generally weigh more too.

  • Running shoes.. the most common type of shoe you'll come across. It would be fine to run and walk in these.

  • Shopping Tips

  • The best time to shop for shoes is in the afternoon or evening. Your feet will swell later in the day and so you'll buy according to your maximum foot size.

  • Test the shoes. At the least, walk when you try. If you're going to be using them more than twice a week then I would suggest you run, skip, jump and squat with them on, either in the shop or outside. If the shop doesn't allow this then I suggest looking somewhere else.

  • Instant comfort. Exercise shoes don't need wearing in, they should be comfy as soon as you slip them on.

  • Wear thick socks or the socks that you will exercise in. Also take any inner soles that you usually wear in your shoes (orthotics).

  • Push down on your toes with your thumb. There should be a whole thumb width of space between your big toe and the end of the shoe. You should be able to move all your toes.

  • Heel should be snug and not slip at all. When testing them make sure there are no rough edges rubbing across the top and no discomfort of the arch of your foot.

  • Spend wisely. Generally you get what you pay for, but not always. If a shoe has a certain marketing spin to it, then I'd steer clear. If it's named after a sports person or the latest sports star wears it, then you know it's got an added price to it. That won't mean added quality. I think between £30 and £60 is a good price range, depending on how often you'll be using them.

  • Wear them indoors to confirm the comfort before exercising outdoors. It's one last check just in case you're not happy with them you can return them undamaged.

  • Replace your exercise shoes after about 400 miles of use. Well that's the guideline but you don't always keep track of mileage. I'd suggest using sensible judgement. When they feel like the support has gone, parts of the sole have worn away or they're just not comfortable anymore, get shopping again!

  • Final Word

    Remember the importance of exercise shoes. They will affect your whole body. A good pair will help to keep you injury free.

    There is lots to remember here when you're out shopping in all the mayhem.

    So why don't you print this page and take it with you.

    Tick each point off so you don't forget to check for absolutely everything.

    Treat your feet and keep them happy, get your perfect pair of exercise shoes.

    Return to The Fitness Equipment Apparel Guide from Exercise Shoes.
    Return to Home from Exercise Shoes.

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