Proper Footwear for the Gym

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Just as important as golf shoes are to golfers, and cleats to baseball and softball players, your gym shoes need to be designed for what you intend to use them for. Sounds pretty easy right? You’d be surprised, and yes, I HAVE seen it all. Selecting a pair of shoes based on looks and not for what they are designed to do can leave you nursing shin splints or aching heels in the form of plantar fasciitis.

  1. Walking shoes are stiffer; running shoes are more flexible, with extra cushioning to handle greater impact. If you do both activities, you should honestly get a pair for each one.
  2. We've all got 10 toes and two heels, but beyond that, feet come in a variety of shapes and knowing your foot's particular quirks is key to selecting the right pair of shoes. Most major brands offer a model to suit every foot type. And even better, most specialty shops will offer a fitting test for you. In fact, Peak Performance here in Omaha does an excellent job helping you get fitted for the proper shoe.
  3. Let’s not just talk about running and walking shoes, how about lifting shoes? For you hardcore lifters out there, this is for you. - First talk about the hard, flat sole of the shoe. Did you know back in the day these soles actually used to be made of wood? We’ve evolved a long ways from then and lately companies have been steering towards a hard plastic sole. The reason for these hard, flat soles is to get as much force off the ground as you can. Some exercises that benefit from the amount of force you get from the ground are squats, snatch, clean, and jerk. When you wear regular shoes (running and walking shoes), you will notice that most of their soles are slightly squishy, so that means instead of getting 100% of the force off the ground, you are only going to get about 90% (give or take a little).

I was always told to remember two important aspects when it comes to athletic shoes:

  1. Don't over or underpay. Good-quality running and walking shoes are fairly pricey and honestly, usually worth it. You get what you pay for: a $20 pair of shoes will be inferior to an $80 pair. At the same time, just because your favorite athlete is endorsing a pair of shoes, doesn't make it better than the model next to it. Simply put, do your research.
  2. Know when to replace them. The average pair of running shoes should be replaced after about 350-400 miles of use. Better yet, go by how your shoes look and feel. Once the back of the sole is worn out or the shoe feels uncomfortable or less supportive, it's time to go shopping again - don’t risk it.

Hope this helps with the process of shoe selection and maintenance.

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