The Schmooze

Don't Forget about Footwear

You may think about that cute gym outfit, how you are going to wear your hair, what you are going to bring, what exercises you are going to do, but, what about your footwear? Do you think about that too? Chances are you probably haven’t put much thought into the sneakers you are putting on for your workout. They are most likely the one pair you have to wear, you are probably not sure when you got them, or how old they are. Well, let me just say.... footwear is important! What you put on your feet when you head to the gym for your workout or engage in any physical activity can make a difference in how you feel and your results. This may be something you never thought about... until now.

I am no expert on footwear but there are a few things I know, apply myself, and am going to share with you:

  1. replace footwear frequently

  2. choose footwear according to your type of activity

  3. determine your preferences

  4. research

  5. try before you buy

  6. don’t be afraid to return

Replace footwear frequently

The footwear you wear for your workouts or physical activity should be replaced every 6-12 months. Even if your sneakers look like brand new that doesn’t mean that they are new. The support of the shoe has been compromised over time and with use. There will be wear and tear that you may not see. The cushioning will deteriorate and the soles compressed. They will no longer provide the protection and absorption that you may need from that sneaker.

Wearing old or worn sneakers can cause injuries and joint pain. Some common areas to watch closely for pain or sensitivity are the knee, ankles, shins, lower back and even the hips.

Whenever I start to feel any pain in these areas, the first thing I do is look at my footwear, determine how long I have had them and usually make a change. After a few weeks much of the time I start to overcome some of those pains and sensitivities.

Choose for your type of activity

There is footwear for different situations and there is good reason for that. Certain activities require a specific shoe such as running, tennis, spinning, etc. Running has a specific repetitive movement that the shoe helps protect your body against.

When setting out to buy footwear think about the activity you do most. Is it walking? running? tennis? weight training? Whatever you do most of the time, that is the type of shoe you are going to want to look for. If you do various things such as cardio machines, weights, group classes, than you may want to look into cross training or running sneakers usually good for most activities.

If you do several very different activities than you may need to make various purchases based on that.

Because I do many various activities that require a sturdy sneaker I usually purchase a cross trainer or running sneaker. I also have a separate cycle shoe for spin classes since they lock right into the bike and keep my foot exactly where it needs to be for the duration of the ride and class.

Determine your preferences

When it comes to footwear everyone has at least one preference. Depending on your foot size, shape and comfort level these preferences will vary for each individual. Before setting out to make a purchase determine what yours might be. Think about those things that you know make you feel comfortable and are important in the activity that you do. You may even have a preference in the brand of sneaker.

I prefer a wider toe to a narrow one, I like a shock absorbing heel for high impact, and something that is supportive.


Once you know the type of footwear you are looking for, along with your preferences, it is time to do some research. We are very lucky to have the internet and this is one of the things you can research before you head out to make a meaningless purchase. Start to research different brands or your brand of preference. See what they have to offer and the specification on each. Then, read the reviews. Reviews are a great way to help you narrow things down. Everyone finds comfort in different footwear, just because it is not a good fit for one individual does not mean that it will not be a good fit for you. What you do want to know in those reviews is if the quality is good? Is the fit true to size? Does the shoe offer what it claims? Reviews can be very helpful in learning some of this information.

Once you have narrowed down your search, determine where you can get them and make a store list.

Try before you buy

It is always a good idea to try on the sneakers for fit and comfort level. Start to visit the stores on your list that have the footwear you have researched. Try on as many sneakers on your list as you can and move around in them. They should feel comfortable and you should be able to move around comfortably in them. You shouldn’t feel any squeezing, pinching, piercing or sharpness anywhere.

I sometimes spend months at various stores trying on several sneakers before I make a final decision and purchase.

Don’t be afraid to return

This is probably one of the most important things to know. Most places you buy your footwear from will accept a return even if they have been worn. Just find out the store policy at the time of your purchase. Footwear is way to expensive to not be happy and comfortable with your purchase so do not be afraid to take them back and try a different pair out.

I wear my new footwear indoors only until I have decided that I am keeping them. If I am not happy in anyway during my workouts I do not keep them. I once returned 3 different pairs of sneakers before settling on the pair I kept.

Footwear along with the clothes you wear, what you do, and how you nourish the body helps to keep it healthy and safe during your workouts.

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