A surprisingly important is-shoe
Contrary to popular belief – shoes are just shoes – there is such a thing as appropriate choice of footwear when it comes to the various types/disciplines of exercise. Think about it, you wouldn’t wear your Puma slides on a hike, would you? You daren’t sport Louboutin to spin class, dare you? And don’t get me started on wear moccasins during powerlifting – I kid you not, there’s a true story with this one, but that’s for a rainy day….The point is each discipline necessitates appropriate footwear.
This, perforce, raises one or two questions. The first: How do I make sure my shoes correlate to my discipline? The beauty of the world we live in is that shoes have become designated and specialized so you can find what you need for what you’re doing. Take (if you’re in South Africa) Mr. Price Sport, for example, they demarcate on the shoebox the type of shoe you would be paying for. The box will specifically state, in bold, “RUNNING”, or “STUDIO & YOGA”. Once you’ve determined your discipline finding the corresponding shoe won’t be hard.
The second question: How do I it’s quality? “Quality”, at its most rudimentary definition, means “fitness for purpose”. Those aforementioned Puma slides, as quality a product as they are, are not “fit” for the purpose of hiking. We typically tend to trust the more established, or global brands for quality, like Puma, Nike, Adidas, or Asics, and rightly so as they’re all tried and tested. Just one problem…price. These brands will set you back a couple of hundreds of… uh…whichever currency you’re working with. Quality doesn’t have to be expensive. Real talk, I typically wear generic brands. I bought a pair blue “Willow” trainers, from Makro, for less than R300 in 2014 – still use ‘em today. Conversely, I’ve seen/heard people complain about their well renowned brands. All you need is a good solid shoe that gets the job done, irrespective of both price and brand.
Willow trainers. Affordable. Quality
Now, on to looking at the actual shoe. This goes without saying, but I feel like I must state, and subsequently emphasize, the most crucial (and I mean most crucial) property of a shoe, comfort. You have to feel comfortable when wearing shoes to perform better in them. Some people prefer snug fits while others opt for more loose fits. The choice is ultimately yours. Climate is a considerable factor. Our feet tend to expand in hot weather/environments so you want to make sure your shoe can accommodate the occurrence. Get shoes with the following properties: responsiveness (how well it adjusts to, and accommodates your foot when wearing it); breathability (how much ventilation it provides so as to avoid sweaty feet, and all those permutations); lightweight (not heavy on the feet – no added weight when in use); durability (how long it lasts last); traction (how much grip it provides).
Responsive. Breathable. Lightweight. Durable
*NOTE: If you’re a jogger avoid running on the tarmac, especially in hot climate, as you could ware out the soles quickly.
There is the alternative measure of buying shoes which are a half size bigger, but I wouldn’t necessarily endorse this idea as doing so could compromise the much needed comfort. Your foot could end up slipping and sliding, and in the endeavour to find stability/grip you may incur blisters.
If you’re a gym goer, or training on flat surfaces like pavement or again, get a comfortable, responsive shoe, with good grip on the sole so as to avoid slipping – smooth soles on equally smooth surfaces compromise stability. If you working on uneven surfaces you’d need shoes that protect your ankles, and are durable enough of the surface. Typically, protective shoes have a denser feel; thicker material; and more solid sole, and the mouth extends over the ankles to form the protective layer. Just remember that there are hiking/outdoors style shoes (see Cape Union Mart) and there are basketball high-tops…the latter are best kept on the basketball court.
Hopefully I’ve been able to shed light on this topic, and you feel equipped to sully forth on your fitness journey with the right footwear. Again, all you need is a good solid shoe that gets the job done, irrespective of both price and brand. As long as you feel can conquer the world, or at least you discipline, in the shoes you’re wearing then that’s all you need!