As doctors of physical therapy and sport performance coaches, we field a lot of training shoe FAQs. This quick read will outline the different types of shoes an athlete should own, and give you a few tips on how to tell if they need replacing.
What type of training shoe do I need?
Shoe brands love to market towards different foot types and movement patterns, but emerging research indicates that these factors have little, if any, impact on injury risk or overall performance. Instead of looking at how high your arches are, or if you overpronate, focus on what activity you will be doing in that shoe. Most athletes need the following three styles of training shoes in their closet.
Your Training Shoe Collection
Cross Training Shoes
Activity: Weightlifting, Plyometrics, Sprints
Recommended Shoes: Nike Metcon, NoBull Trainer
Cross training shoes provide a stable platform for lifting and adequate traction for quick change of direction.
Sport Specific Shoes
Examples: Cleats, track spikes, volleyball shoes, etc.
Sport specific shoes are designed to meet the specific needs of your sports. For example, cleats provide better traction control on turf or grass, and volleyball shoes provide additional lateral support.
The one style of shoe we recommend you avoid for any training or sport activity is sportstyle shoes, which unfortunately make up a large percentage of tennis shoes on the market. They typically have a highly cushioned and elevated heel and poor midfoot stability. This makes it difficult to balance (imagine lifting weights while standing on a pillow), challenging to activate the appropriate muscles while lifting, and easy to roll your ankle while changing direction. If you can wring it out like a dishtowel, it shouldn’t be on your foot while training.
Bonus: Go Barefoot!
Did you know you can (and should!) train barefoot from time to time? Exercising barefoot can improve the strength, control, and resiliency of your foot. Try going barefoot during your next weight lifting, light plyometric, or balance training session!
When should I replace my training shoes?
Running shoes should be replaced every 300-500 miles. Many apps, including MapMyRun, make milage tracking easy. Cross trainig shoes should be replaced every 6-12 months. Replace them closer to the 6 month mark if you’re training more than 4x/week or if you do a lot of high impact training (plyometrics, sprints, jump rope, etc). Sport specific shoes should also be replaced every 6-12 months, depending on how much you use them.
If you’re unsure if your shoes need to be replaced, a visual inspection can tell you a lot.
We hope we’ve cleared up a few training shoe FAQs, but if you have any additional questions, Dr. Molly King can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.