Improper workout footwear can cause a number of injuries. Besides the more obvious injuries, including ankle strains and fractures, bunions and corns. Wearing the wrong type of shoe can keep you from performing your best. When you’re putting in the hard work to get better, the last thing you need is your shoe to be holding you back.
The main differences between running shoes and training shoes are sole flexibility and the heel drop. With the sole flexibility, we know that running shoes are for heel-to-toe movement. Training shoes are for multi- directional movement, especially lateral (side-to-side) movement. The sole of a training shoe is more flexible to allow a wide range of movement. With the heel drop in a shoe you can usually tell a shoe is a training shoe by how much flatter the shoe is. The technical term here is the “heel drop” which refers to the distance from the heel height to the toe height. The higher heel drop in running shoe comes from added support and cushioning.
Training shoes support a range of movement including: cutting, stopping, breaking, jumping and changing direction quickly. This makes a training shoe versatile and good for many different types of workouts. They have a comfortable upper and flexible mid sole for multi- directional movement. A lower heel drop puts you closer to the ground to push off and pivot. Training shoes are lightweight for easy and efficient movement. Training shoes can be used for:
- High intensity gym classes and outdoor boot camps (cushioning for high- impact and run training)
- Weight lifting (heel support so you can go lower into squats, and then stand up)
- Strength training (a training specific last makes for extra space in the forefoot)
- Agility training (grooves and out sole patterns for traction during plyometric and multi directional movement)
Short distances on a treadmill is also fine, but anything longer than 5km is usually better with a running shoe on for shock absorption.
This is more obvious – running shoes are for running! Running shoes protect your feet when pounding the pavement over and over again. Where a training shoe helps with side-to-side movement, running shoes help with forward movement. Running shoes also provide more cushioning and support, which often translates into a higher heel drop. This makes for more comfort during long distance runs when you need lots of shock absorption.
Running and training shoes provide specific types of support to prevent injury. Here are some of the ways a mismatch of shoe to workout may increase your chances of injury:
- Running shoes for lateral movement – higher heel drops make for a higher chance of ankle sprains during lateral movement.
- Running shoes for plyometric workouts (like high explosive movements- squat jumps, lunge jumps, box jumps) – the extra cushioning and support from running shoes can keep you from landing properly and can increase your chances of a knee or ankle injury.
- Running in training shoes – without the cushioning and support of running shoes, you can increase your chances of getting plantar fasciitis.
- Not enough running support – stress fractures can occur from running without proper support, which can happen when using minimalist shoes lacking cushioning to absorb shock.
- The wrong type of running shoes – tendonitis can happen when you aren’t wearing the running shoe for your pronation type, whether it’s an overpronator needing a more structured shoe or a neutral runner wearing a shoe with too much arch support
- Lifting weights in cushioned shoes – it’s best to do lifting with little cushioning.
- Shoe size – Too small of shoes can cause your toenails to bruise and fall off – YUCK. You should be sizing up at least a half size to account for the natural movement and swelling of your feet during workouts. You may also need to find the right shoe width for your comfort.
The best way to find out the most suitable shoe for you, it to head into a store, such as ASICS, or Athlete’s Foot and get a proper fitting. They will do sizing as well as a gait analysis.