As a fitness instructor, I’m hyper-aware of any pain I start to feel in my legs and feet. Step is so high-intensity with a lot of pounding on your feet, so it’s not surprising that my shoes get worn out pretty quickly. My biggest problem is that I’m SO CHEAP! I love running shoes to no end, but I also look for cheaper options. The downfall of this is you truly get what you pay for.
I’d been feeling some aches and pains these last couple of weeks, especially first thing in the morning. My feet ache, my shins throb, and my knees complain when I sit down or stand up. These pains can travel all the way into my lower back. Many cardio activities put a lot of stress on these joints through the pounding your feet take. In fact, it’s reported that when running, we hit the ground with a force about 2 – 3 times our body weight! Good shoes can help alleviate some of this.
I came to the realization this week that my body deserves a little extra investment when it comes to shoes for this class, especially now that I’m teaching it twice a week. So, I mentally set an amount of money aside in my brain to purchase a solid pair of shoes which would ONLY be used for Step (<– I have the bad habit of buying shoes just for teaching, but then wearing them for everything and anything, which wears them out faster). This shopping trip, I purchased these:
I’ve had really good luck with Nikes in the past couple of years and have stayed pretty loyal to the brand. I taught Step in these last night and they passed the initial test – they were comfortable, had good support, and felt really light. Added bonuses: they look fun and were on sale!
The shoe market is so saturated these days, making it hard to find what you need. From toe shoes to shoes with full support, it can be frustrating to know what’s right for you and your feet. While these shoes work for me (so far), you need to find what works best for you in terms of cushioning, support, and looks. When shoe shopping, keep these tips in mind:
- Find a brand and model you like, and do your best to re-purchase these. This is easier said than done, as it seems companies don’t support this mentality. It never fails that your favourite model has been changed or discontinued when you need your next pair. (Buy two pairs at the same time…?)
- Try on both shoes in the store. This might seem like a no-brainer, but we’re so often rushed to get in and out, that we whip on one shoe and base the decision on that alone. Your feet are likely NOT the same size or shape, so putting on both will let you know if the pair is actually going to work for you or not.
- Don’t just look at them in a mirror. While you might feel a little goofy in the store, jog on the spot, jump up and down, or do a training-specific move you’ll need the shoes to perform (lateral movements, quick direction changes, etc.). Make sure there’s support and padding in the spots YOU need. You can also ask the salesperson about the return policy, if you can “trial” them for a session or two.
- See an expert. If possible, going to a speciality store where staff can properly assess and fit your shoes to your feet is ideal. However, be prepared to pay top dollar for the shoes they have in stock. Again, you get what you pay for!
- Don’t push the limits. Shoes are generally good for about 400 miles before needing to be replaced. Pay attention to any new aches and pains you’re feeling during and after your activity. Switch your shoes to see if this helps with the pain before assuming it’s an injury.
Shoes can honestly make a difference in your performance and (more importantly) can lead to injury if they’re wrong for your foot. Keep your feet happy so you can log as many miles as you wish.
PS – If you like white chocolate and peppermint, these are amazing and available at Target (yes, even in Canada!). They make me think of creamy candy canes. Fact – white chocolate doesn’t have any cocoa!