It’s great that you’re mixing things up in your workout. A regular 5k, a weekly HIIT class and some weightlifting will definitely be challenging your body and getting results.
However, if you’re wearing the same trainers for all these activities you might be doing more harm than good.
According to studies by Decathlon’s Sports Lab, fitness and sports involve a whole host of different movements including twists, jumps and repetition.
Therefore, different fitness shoes are designed to help you do these without risking an injury – and wearing suitable shoes can reduce the risk of injury by 20%.
For example, allied health care prod running shoes usually have in-built shock absorbers, while aerobics shoes have extra cushioning and support, and court trainers are more structured to help with rapid side-to-side movements.
‘There is a lot of scientific evidence proving that certain shoe traits and design features can generate positive changes to specific aspects of people’s fitness form,’ says Anna Kosciuk, a sports scientist at biomechanics experts, Nurvv.
‘These design elements can help people move more efficiently and help prevent injury, therefore it’s essential to wear trainers for your specific activity.
‘You can really fine-tune your trainer choice, too, and while walking, hiking and mountaineering are all walking activities, thanks to things like distance, terrain and weather, all require different footwear.’
Pick the wrong trainers and you are looking at blisters at best and bunions and corns or knee and hip imbalances at worst.
‘When trying on trainers make sure your ankle fits nicely into the shoe and there’s enough room around the toe box,’ adds Anna.
‘There must be a thumb’s width distance between the end of the shoe and your toe. And remember, laces aren’t just there for fashion. They can help with things like high insteps, wide forefoot or “locking” narrow ankles inside the shoes.’
With this in mind, we’ve asked Anna what to look for in trainers for specific activities.
Best for running
‘This depends on the type of runner you are, but if you are doing long distances you need to find a trainer with a balance between structure and cushioning.
‘When you’re running your feet elongate and your arch will collapse slightly with every step, so you want to make sure you have enough space between the end of your toe and the shoe for when this happens.
‘While lightweight trainers can be popular, they aren’t appropriate for all runners, so have a gait analysis and always go for function over fashion.
‘Get it wrong and you could be facing shin splints, plantar fasciitis (pain under the foot and heel) and knee issues.’
Hoka One One Bondi X
A road shoe with mega cushioning, the Hoka One One Bondi X has a heel-to-toe rocker sole that has its thickest point at the back to propel you forwards. A spring-loaded carbon-fibre plate provides an efficient transition and ultra-smooth toe-off.
Salomon Ultra Glide
For trail runners, Salomon’s Ultra Glide offers up an Energy Surge midsole combined with a new rocker shape to move you forwards. Moulded foam built into the forefoot gives superior cushioning and protects against tricky or stony terrain.
On Running Cloudflyer Waterproof
For everyday wear and urban exploration, the On Running Cloudflyer Waterproof has a 100% wind and waterproof membrane. A midfoot stability tube means support for agility and Helion superfoam gives better energy return.
Best for aerobics
‘As aerobic exercises are so diverse, there is a lot of multi-directional movement and you want to look for something that has some structure under the foot.’ says Anna.
‘When you’re doing rapid movements, if the shoe doesn’t support, you could go over the foot and that can result in injury. Look for a grippy sole.’
Decathlon Domyos Women’s Fitness 520
The Decathlon Domyos Women’s Fitness 520 comes with an HX Flex system that allows you to move in every direction, a special knit material to give lateral reinforcement and a sole that absorbs impact.
Reebok HIIT TR 2.0
Made for the intensity of a HIIT class, the Reebok HIIT TR 2.0 is lightweight and cushions your moves, while grooves in the forefoot provide flexibility for dynamic movement.
Asics Sky Elite FF2
Asics Sky Elite FF2 is sold as a volleyball shoe but a curved heel design provides easier forward transition, while the midsole and lateral forefoot gauge offer stability, and grooves in the outsole offer flexibility.
Best for strength training/weightlifting
‘Typically for weightlifting it’s advised not to have too much cushioning in a trainer.
‘You need a relatively flat sole as you’re looking to generate and transfer as much force up as possible and you’re using the floor and the shoe to do that. This way you can activate the muscles you’re supposed to.
‘If you don’t have the right trainers, you simply won’t be able to lift as much.’
Designed for fusion sessions of strength training and HIIT, the Puma Fuse has a wide toe box to give a stable stance, while the internal midsole provides shock absorption for heavily weighted workouts.
Adidas Powerlift 4
If your training is more geared towards heavy lifting, the Adidas Powerlift 4 has been engineered to give expert support and stability: from the foot strap to the solid elevated heel and durable canvas upper that lets your toes flex as you lift.
361 Europe Quest TR
The midfoot of this 361 Europe Quest TR has soft internal webbing and a mono sock to hold the foot secure. A heel counter locks the foot down for extra stability and an outsole of sticky rubber gives traction.
Best for tennis/badminton/squash
‘For these activities, you want something that has extra reinforcement on the sides of the shoe: the inside and outside of the forefoot as well the inside of the arch. These are the main areas shoes should support due to the side-to-side movement.
‘To allow efficient rotation of the forefoot, tennis shoes have small circular islands incorporated underneath the soles to help players twist and pivot. Main things here when getting it wrong are blisters and metatarsalgia, which is a condition where people experience different types of problems in the ball of the foot.’
Decathlon Perfly BS 500 JR trainer
Decathlon’s Perfly BS 500 JR trainer would suit an intermediate player who’s looking for good cushioning with a lightweight and breathable upper.
Gola Women’s High Trainer shoe
Based on the 1975 heritage trainer worn by tennis pro Mark Cox, the Gola Women’s High Trainer shoe is a great option for amateur court-based sports.
The sole provides a strong grip on surfaces and the high-top design adds extra support when pivoting.
New Balance Fresh Foam X Lav V2
Durable and with precise underfoot cushioning in the midsole, New Balance’s Fresh Foam X Lav V2 helps you stay on top of each stride and stroke and take performance to the next level.
This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission on purchases made through one of these links but this never influences our experts’ opinions. Products are tested and reviewed independently of commercial initiatives.
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