The right shoe for the right exercise

Workout with care
Last Updated 20 March 2014, 14:03 IST

After staying in hibernation for the past winter months and putting on massive kilos, you decide to take to some form of sport. You reach into your closet and bring out the old trusted comfortable pair of sneakers and strap them on.

But two days into your sport you realise you have a paralysing feet, knee or hip ache. Could it have something to do with your comfy sneakers? Well yes, if fitness experts are to be believed.

One pair of shoes - however good-looking, fitting or expensive – cannot be the answer to every form of exercise. Walking, running, trekking, tennis, weight training – all require different kinds of shoes with their peculiar design and construction – also the reason why leading brands advocate different shoes for different sports these days. Falling back on that one pair of pretty shoes for running errands as well as workouts can land you with little benefits of the exercise, injuries and ultimately, even more weight gain.

American Council on Exercise (ACE) certified senior trainer Shiba Mehra says, “Actually I would say that an old pair of sneakers is the worst form of footwear you can employ for exercise. A shoe which has been in use for more than a year may have lost the strength to support your feet completely. Ultimately, all the pressure of the exercise lands on the feet. More so, the lifestyle shoes we purchase at cheap rates from local stores are totally unsuited to any form of exercise until and unless you work out only sporadically.”

Even running on different kinds of surface such as a cemented track, grass or mountain trail demand different kinds of shoes and one must be particular about that.

Neeraj Mehta, director and fitness expert at Growth for Fitness Instructors Academy, says, “One must understand that each form of sport stresses a different part of your feet. For example, a casual walker lands on his heel while a runner exerts his forefoot. So a walking shoe should ideally have more cushioning on the heels, while a running shoe should have insoles to support the forefeet.”

Sports like tennis and basketball do not just need forward movement akin to running but sideways and backward movement as well. Hence the shoe should be designed accordingly. Neeraj says, “These shoes must have lateral bolsters to aid in lateral movement. You cannot have a running shoe for this purpose if you are regular with tennis or basketball. Similarly, in weight training, the pressure flows down from your hands to the waist and then the feet. The shoes, therefore, should have bigger grooves to grip a larger surface area on the ground.”

Most shoe stores, even the branded ones, do not have experts to advise the right kind of shoe for a sport. So it becomes important to find the right store/expert for a one-time study of your foot size, shape, the sport you pursue and the right shoe to go for. Shiba says, “You will be surprised to see how an appropriate shoe makes your exercise easy, comfortable and even encourages you to go for it every single day.”“And,” she adds, “Once you have got it, remember to not treat it as an all-purpose shoe. Reserve it only for exercise. Also, retire it every year. You do not want it become a comfy, ache-causing old sneaker. Do you?”

(Published 20 March 2014, 14:03 IST)

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