Workout Shoes

If you’re just getting started out, you might be wondering what shoes you should wear for your workouts.  Should you just wear running shoes or should you get something more specific to your style of training?   These are questions you might not think a ton about until you starting getting soreness in your feet, shins or knees.   But I think it’s something important to address, so I’ll give you my thoughts.

Shoes For High Impact Workouts

workout shoesIf you’re doing Insanity or Turbo Fire then this probably applies most to you.  In both programs you’re doing a ton of cardio, lots of jumping and a lot of quick work with your feet.  You get a similar workout in Plyo X from P90X, but that’s really only one day out of every week.  Insanity in particular is a lot of jumping every day, so you want to make sure you protect your feet and knees.

When I started out with Insanity, I just wore running shoes.  I did a bit of jogging before I started and I’ve never really had ankle issues, so I always wore running shoes.  They worked alright, and I still didn’t really have any ankle problems.  I’ve always played basketball in running shoes as well because I just never seem to roll an ankle and they’re typically lighter shoes.  Even though my ankles don’t roll, I was missing out on a lot of support.  I did finally decided to give basketball shoes a try with my workouts, and I have to say it did make a big difference.  The extra ankle support you get from a basketball or cross training shoe actually helps you perform the workouts better in my opinion.  They give me a more stable base which helps ensure that I’m not slipping during my workouts and I can push off from a solid, strong base.  Those types of shoes also are designed for jumping, so they have more cushion for your feet.  I always work out on hard wood floors, so the extra cushion helps a ton.  If you’re on hard wood or cement, I think having the extra support and cushion from a basketball or cross training shoe is very important.  It’s going to soften the impact on your ankles and knees and should help prevent injury or soreness.  So in my opinion, stay away from typical running shoes here, because they are meant to go in one direction, not side to side, and they don’t offer the ankle support or cushion that you need.

Shoes For Non-High Impact Workouts

If your workout isn’t really high impact, like most of P90X or Body Beast, then your shoes are less important in my opinion.  You still want a stable base that supports you, but you don’t necessarily need the extra ankle support or cushion.  I think you should still wear shoes, especially if you’re in a plank position pretty frequently because they still will give you some support and allow you to do the moves correctly.  They also help you avoid slipping on the floor if your feet sweat like mine do.  The last thing you want is your base to be unstable, so again, I would recommend wearing shoes, but running shoes here would be fine in my opinion.

Barefoot Shoes

One other type of shoe that has become very popular are barefoot shoes.  The most popular brand being Vibram 5 Fingers.  I think they look pretty odd, but I know many people who wear them and love them.  Many people really swear by them too.  I’ve thought about giving them a try, and even have tried a pair on to see how I like them.  But I ended up deciding I would like the extra support that a traditional shoe gives me.

But again, some people swear by them and only workout in them.  The idea behind barefoot shoes is that they allow you to workout in a more natural way, which will work your legs in a different way, more similar to how our legs got stronger before people wore shoes.  For runners, it’s supposed to be a more natural step.  The main problem I have with them is that they do open up the door for more injury.  Your achilles tendon probably isn’t used to you working out without typical shoes on, so it gets stretched more with these types of shoes.  And if you go too hard right away, you risk injuring that, which is very painful and can be a long recovery.  Also, you’re supposed to be up on the balls of your feet when you are wearing them, but I see tons of people running in these shoes, but running heal to toe like you would with a traditional running shoe.  That is completely defeating the purpose of the shoes and is just going to help you injure your heal.  Same goes for working out in them, if you’re jumping or running around, you need to be on the balls of your feet, not your heals.

If used properly, I’m sure they do have some advantages and can help strengthen your legs and calves, but they open up the door for more injury and if you already have a bad knee like I do, they might not offer the support you need.  So they don’t work for me, but they could work for you if you use them properly.

Bottom line is that you should make sure you have the right footwear on when you’re working out!  If you’re doing a lot of jumping and plyometrics, get shoes that support your effort.  If you’re doing Insanity in the wrong footwear, you’re opening yourself up for ankle, shin and knee problems.  Having the right support and a strong base will allow you to get more out of your workouts and stay safe at the same time, so make sure you have the right shoes!

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