If you’re new to working out – or even if you’re not – the right shoe can make a big difference.
“Foot health is very important. It’s the beginning of your kinetic chain,” says Allica Austin, an exercise physiologist at MD Anderson. “If your foundation isn’t strong, how can you do anything else?”
Often when people feel pain while exercising it’s because they’re wearing the wrong type of shoe, Austin says. If you have a weak foundation then your body has to compensate, which could cause pain.
Exercising is an essential part of maintaining a healthy weight, and maintaining a healthy weight is an important part of lowering your cancer risk. The American Cancer Society and the American College of Sports Medicine say you should aim for two and a half hours of moderate physical activity each week or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous exercise to reduce your cancer risk.
Read Austin’s tips for finding the right shoe for your workout.
Make sure you have the right shoe for the activity you want to do.
Having the right shoe for the activity you plan to do can make a big difference. Decide which activities you enjoy doing, and then select the shoe that will support you best.
- Walking or running: A long-distance running shoe offers support and is usually lightweight. Austin recommends this type of shoe to many patients because it’s built to offer support for long periods of time.
- Strength training and weight lifting: Look for shoes with a flat sole that is wide enough to disperse your weight comfortably.
- Cycling: Cycling shoes are typically the least flexible. These shoes are stiff so that you can push against the pedals evenly.
Talk to an expert.
Many specialty shoe stores hire experts to help you select a shoe. They’re trained to help you find the shoe that’s right for your foot and gait, the way you walk or run.
“Finding the right shoe is a critical part of establishing a successful exercise routine, so don’t be afraid to ask for help,” Austin says.
Make sure your shoe looks like your foot.
The sole of your shoe should have the same outline as the sole of your foot, Austin says. If you have more of a wide foot, you should look for a boxy shoe. If you have a narrow foot you should look for a narrow shoe.
When you try the shoes on, see how they feel. Arch support should feel natural and not harsh, Austin says.
Replace your shoes as needed.
Aim to replace your shoes after 80 to 100 workout hours. If you start feeling new pain or discomfort in the joints of your feet or legs it may be past time to get a new pair of shoes.
“Our feet support our body’s movement. With each step you take shoes assist in the transfer of weight and energy,” Austin says. “The proper shoe will allow for you to exercise with less injury and more comfort.”
Print this infographic to help pick the shoe that's right for you.