The key to choosing comfortable, supportive sneakers is to understand the movements of the type of workouts you’re doing. Stern says, “Gym shoes are sneakers, but not all sneakers are gym shoes. I own a really cool pair of platform Nikes, but I would never ever workout in them. A lot of gym shoe brands expanded into lifestyle, so it’s important to know the shoes you’re working out in are meant for workouts!”
Dr. Hillary Brenner, podiatrist and founder of Dr. Brenner’s RX, recommends looking for “lots of arch support, a wide toe box with plenty of cushion, a thick, chunky heel, and the right amount of flexibility and soft materials around bony prominences.” Her biggest tip is to make sure the shoe fits properly. Brenner says the distance from the top pof the big to to the tip of the shoe should be about a thumb’s width.
Board certified podiatrist Anne Sharkey, based in Austin, TX, says she always looks for the APMA (American Podiatric Medical Association) seal when shoe shopping. This seal of approval is given o products that the APMA believe promote good foot health.
Per Sharkey, you should choose a workout shoe tailored to your activity of choice. “Also, consider your foot type when choosing workout shoes,” she suggests. “Feet that are flat require a stability shoe or a motion control shoe. Feet with high arches will do best with a cushioned shoe or neutral shoe.”
Sharkey adds that a shoe should fit well from the first wear—you should not have to break it in.
“The type of workout shoe you wear really depends on the type of workout you’re doing,” Stern adds. “For example, when lifting weights, you want a flatter shoe that grips the ground. But when you’re running, a shoe with more support that helps spring you forward can help prevent injury. Overall, you also want to make sure that you’re comfortable in the shoe. The shoe should move with you, not against you.”
Below, find four cornerstone questions Stern asks herself when shopping for the perfect pair of workout shoes:
Is it snug? “Some shoes, especially when made of knit material, can leave too much room for your foot to move around in the shoe, which isn’t great for ankle health and stability. We want to make sure that your shoes are working for you, so you can move around as freely and powerfully as you can without sliding around in there,” she explains.
Is it too narrow? “I have a wider foot, and I’ve found that some brands of shoes are too narrow for my feet (you’ll know if it’s painful). When you’re lifting weights, you want to mimic being barefoot as closely as possible. A shoe that’s too narrow will squeeze your feet and your toes together, preventing a solid grip with the floor,” she says.
Does it support the workout I’m doing? “A trick to help you decide this one: More jumping and moving around needs more support in the foot. Stability work and lifting weights need less support,” she shares.
Do I love them? “This may seem obvious, but buy shoes that you can see yourself wearing,” she says. “There are so many options, that it’s easy to find a functional shoe that brings you joy. I used to buy so many different pairs, but realized I wasn’t wearing them because it was too much work to style them. I invested in 3 great white pairs that go with everything and now it’s all I own.”