What to Look for When Choosing Gym Shoes

December 20, 2017 • • foot careproper foot wearsports injuries

One of the reasons why sports injuries occur can be traced back to the fact that they were not using the proper protective gear and footwear. This fact also applies to working out in the gym, where, without the right support, you can injure your feet and ankles by straining, twisting, or spraining them. The following are things to consider when choosing your gym (workout) shoes:


  • Walking or running on a treadmill: While casual fashion shoes may look nice, they will not be supportive enough long-term to keep your feet from straining. When running, you’ll want to buy running shoes since they will have ample cushioning, lightweight breathable materials, and good arch and heel support to stabilize you during long sessions.
  • Jogging or Sprinting outdoors: Similar to above, but you may find that you need even more cushioning to absorb impact from pounding the hard pavement. Treadmills have a little more bounce or give, but the sidewalks and roads will be less forgiving on your joints.
  • Cross-training, like cross-fit or dancing: When your workout consists of a variety of different activities, you’ll want to get cross-trainers, which are specifically made to accommodate all sorts of movement. Whether used inside or outside, the outer soles usually have good non-slip grip and are flexible to allow for lateral movement.
  • Weightlifting: If your main workout that day is weightlifting, you’ll want to wear these activity-specific shoes that have a stable, low cushion, but with a lifted heel to help with posture.
  • Kickboxing and other martial arts, or Yoga: Activities that do not require shoes and are mostly performed barefoot are usually not performed directly on the floor. Mats ensure sanitary precautions and give you cushion as you perform each activity.


  • Hard surfaces (Concrete, Asphalt, Hardwood, Tile flooring): Any time you’ll be working out on hard surfaces, think about how much impact your feet, ankles, knees, and hips are taking on anytime you hit the ground. Cushioning and good arch and heel support are essential to preventing overuse injuries like Achilles tendinitis and plantar fasciitis.
  • Solid polyurethane (running track materials), Astroturf, and grass: These indoor/outdoor materials provide some cushion to the feet, but for those who already have foot problems, you’ll want to make sure your workout shoes have some padding in the inner sole. Additionally, some sports require the use of cleats, which are also different depending on if you are on Astroturf or grass.
  • Cushioned mats: Some gyms have areas with foam, rubber, or other cushioned mats. Additionally, you can use an individual floor mat for core floor exercises. If you will be on these mats, you can probably use shoes with less padding, but because they can be a form of grip, be careful when performing lateral movement.

Always remember to stretch and warm up before and after exercising to prevent injury and strain. Yes, even the feet and ankles, which you may not think of, but are very much a part of your workout. Always use activity-specific shoes if you can – otherwise get shoes that will fit your needs per the activity and flooring. Finally, make sure you always have flip-flops for after your workout, not only to air out your feet and shoes, but also so that you don’t go barefoot on locker room floors, which can be a breeding ground for germs and potential infections.

Do you need additional support for your feet or ankles when you work out? Our foot specialists can help you with custom orthotics. Make an appointment today at Alamitos-Seal Beach Podiatry Group for treatment options after a thorough assessment. One of our board-certified podiatrists, Dr. Douglas H. Richie, Dr. Jeremy L. Cook, Dr. Faye E. Izadi will be happy to help at our Orange County offices in Seal Beach, CA and Los Alamitos, CA.

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