Above all, certified podiatrist and foot surgeon Brad Schaeffer, DPM, who is the star of the tlc show “My feet are killing me,” says comfort is key. “You want to make sure you’re looking for shoes that meet your individual needs,” he explains. “Because comfort is subjective and different from person to person, it’s important to try out different shoe options to determine what works best for you.” And if you’re looking for versatile kicks, that means they should be comfortable no matter what activity you’re doing.
While the experts we spoke with suggest running-specific sneakers for distance runners, they say it’s possible to find a great all-around pair for strength training, while walkingand small prints. When looking for the top rated training shoes on the market, there are a few things you can look for to ensure you find the best fit.
How do you choose sneakers that do it all? Look for these 5 things
1. A roomy toe box
Whether you’re running or jumping, Barry’s senior fitness instructor Annette Bristol says a roomy toe box that allows your foot to flex and move is a must, as it will allow your toes to grip and stabilize with every movement. “I personally choose a sneaker that is half a size larger than normal to account for foot swelling that occurs during walking and running,” adds Schaeffer, who is a spokesperson for Dr. Scholl’s.
Don’t confuse a roomy toe box with a roomy all-over silhouette. When it comes to both lifting and running, you want to look for shoes that are snug along the heel and midfoot to provide stability throughout every movement. More on that, below.
Podiatrist Asim Sayed, DPM, says to focus on overall foot and ankle stability when shopping for the ultimate cross-training shoe. “A cross-training shoe will feel much more stable than a traditional running shoe due to its wider sole – this will help with stability when moving sideways,” he explains, noting that cross-trainers tend to be less padded but also feel heavier due to the more durable and less airy materials used to create them. “A good elliptical shouldn’t have a super responsive midsole. What you sacrifice in responsiveness, you gain in stability, which is important for keeping your feet and ankles supported.
Schaeffer says you should also keep arch support in mind. Since many lifting shoes have flatter soles, many people also confuse them with the flat inside. This is usually not the case, but if it is, Schaeffer recommends adding insoles. “Our feet have a variety of tendons and ligaments that need the proper support and help stabilize our bones in the feet,” he previously told Well+Good detailing what to look for in a pair of shoes for deep squatting.
Remember: the toe box should be spacious; the midfoot shank should not be. “The stem of a good elliptical should be [snug], protective and durable as it will protect your foot for a range of activities,” says Sayed. Also, it says to watch out for the laces. The laces allow the wearer to adapt the fit of the shoe to their foot. If a shoe is too loose to lace up properly, it’s not the right size for you.
Still on the topic of laces, for a safe and secure fit, Sayed says you’ll want cross-training shoes with laces that stay tied and aren’t too long. If you absolutely love a shoe but hate the laces, just swap them out to make it work.
It’s not fun to feel like your feet are soaking in a pool of sweat. That’s why Schaeffer always recommends looking for a cross-training shoe that’s designed with breathability in mind. “Breathable, moisture-wicking fabric for the upper of the shoe prevents hot air from being trapped inside and helps draw sweat away from the foot,” he explains. “These features help prevent conditions that can cause odor or promote fungus in the shoe.” Needless to say, while breathability may not make the biggest functional difference, it absolutely plays a role in your overall comfort.
It’s natural to want a pair of performance shoes and looks great in the process. “Aesthetically, I like a neutral shoe with a pop of color,” Bristol shares. “I want to feel like I can go from gym to brunch looking the same and feeling good in every space.” Right now her favorite shoe is the Lululemon Charging Sensation, designed for racing and training. While it might seem superficial to pick a pair based on how it looks, remember that nice kicks can be a major motivator to get you out – it’s not something to be underestimated.