Choosing the right trainers for YOU
Do you feel overwhelmed by the choice of trainers available? How do you choose the right pair for you? Should you add insoles to your trainers?
These are the questions I’m often asked. If you’d like to know the answers, read on!
The overall feeling
I used to teach a lot of high impact fitness classes. It was essential that I had the right pair for the job – for MY job. The salesperson in a specialist sports shop gave me some wonderful advice. They said: “When you put the trainers on, they should feel like they were made only for you. If there’s the slightest bit of doubt, then they are not the ones for you.”
I chose a pair that felt that way and I have stuck with this piece of advice for the past 20 years. When I have swayed and bought a pair of ‘fashion trainers’ or had a niggling doubt about how the shoes felt, those trainers have ended up in the recycling bag. Sadly this was often too after they’d given me back pain, or sore feet.
Apart from choosing trainers that feel incredibly comfortable, I would recommend a known and quality brand (there are loads to choose from). My favourites are ASICS and Sketchers as they generally enable me to spend the day on my feet, working and exercising, without any pain or niggles in my feet, knees, hips or back. Phew!
What to look for
The trainers you choose should feel like they have good support, especially around the inside arch, and should also feel like you can move your foot in them. If the trainer is too rigid, then your foot may not be able to roll and move like it should. When our feet are restricted or not supported enough, other areas of the body tend to then try and help. This can involve your Achilles’ tendon and calf muscles, for example. This can lead to issues such as plantar fasciatis, Achilles tendinitis or many other problems affecting the foot, ankles, knees, hips or lower back.
A lot of trainers have built-in arch support. Perhaps you only really need the arch support when you’re wearing your trainers for long periods of time, or require them for more impact/shock absorbing activities. If this is the case, then a pair with built in support could be just right.
Specific support for your sport
Trainers today are not just used for specific sports, but for everyday wear too. If you need trainers for a specific sport, I recommend picking a pair made specifically for the sport you are playing. This makes a big difference as movements and associated support vary so much between sports. For example:
- Running shoes are made to support the heel strike and the toe push off.
- Tennis trainers offer support to cushion the changes in direction and well as cushioning for the impact on the foot whilst running for the ball.
- If you like to wear trainers for walking the dog, then a good pair of running trainers or a pair of Sketchers walking shoes would work well for you.
If your feet enjoy and get used to your trainers’ arch support, you may then need this arch support in all your other shoes/trainers.
I recommend trying some ‘off the shelf’ insoles first (perhaps in an older pair of trainers and all other shoes these insoles fit in), to see if the arch support feels helpful and supportive. Once that is established, you need to decide whether the insoles would be useful in just the trainers, or useful in all the other shoes too.
If support is needed in other shoes as well it may be worth buying a neutral pair of trainers and using insoles in various other trainers/shoes. This ensures the support your feet (and indirectly the rest of your body) receive in the shoe is uniform throughout your collection. The extra shock absorption will be gained from the quality of the trainers you buy.
Further corrections can be achieved with bespoke insoles in the future as needed. Wearing neutral trainers and shoes makes this transition much easier.