Hi Friends of Oompf, it's Alvan here. Today we will be talking about the kind of footwear you should be using for different types of training such as strength training or cardio.
No matter what type of athletic activity you do, your feet are going to bear the greatest brunt of your training. There are so many different types of footwear claimed to be the 'best'; the lightest, the most comfortable, or the most stylish. But the question is, which is the best for you and most compatible with your training program?
Footwear is easily one of the most commonly overlooked things when it comes to training but it may be playing a much bigger role than you think.
Ever feel like no matter what kind of "impact-absorbing" shoes you buy your feet or knees still hurt after a run? This may come as a surprise to many but most shoes that claim to absorb or reduce impact don't actually do that. The thick cushioning in the soles make running on it more comfortable but don't actually take away the impact on your knees. The cushioning lowers the ability of our feet to sense what’s beneath it when it hits the ground and this dullness of this sense can lead to injury. However, with more minimalistic shoes or thinner soled shoes, your feet are in contact with the ground; the sense doesn’t get affected and it reduces the risk of injury. Running with cushioned soles may also change your running gait causing you to land non-optimally.
The same concept applies for strength training. For lifting weights or crosstraining, heel stability is key. Your feet are going to bear the heavy load of the weights you’re lifting, so you want a shoe that offers good support and stability.
Cushioning isn’t required for weightlifting shoes, but the ideal shoe should have a fairly flat, level sole; one that encourages better balance. The solid, flat base will give you a sturdy platform to lift from as you squat, lunge, and jump. If you are someone with poor ankle mobility or suffering from ankle mobility issues, you can also try heel elevated shoes. This may help you achieve a greater range of motion when squatting. However in the meantime you should include stretching and mobility exercises into your routine to improve mobility.
What about training barefoot? The human body is designed to function without external feet support. When we train barefoot, stabilizer muscles and connective tissue suddenly activate. This does not happen to the same extent when you wear sneakers. When you train barefoot you may actually notice improvements in overall stability, balance and even body alignment. Barefoot training also helps your body 'correctly' absorb the impact, resulting in less injuries.
However barefoot training also comes with its disadvantages such as risks of dropping something on your foot or stepping on something sharp on the ground. Skin tears may also occur due to the friction between the ground and the foot.
Those with conditions such as diabetes, arthritis or structural foot problems should also check in with their physician prior to doing any sort of barefoot exercise. Below are examples of types of shoes that we recommend for each type of activity.
Shoes for running
Shoes for Weightlifting
Shoes for Crossfit, HIIT
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