Most notably, board-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 for individual needs,” he explains. “Since comfort is subjective and by person varies from person to person, it’s important to try different shoe options to find what feels 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 to recommend running-specific sneakers for long-distance runners, they say it’s possible to find a great all-around pair for strength training, walking, and short runs. When locating the top rated training shoes on the market, there are a few things you can look out for to ensure you find the best fit.
How do you choose sneakers that can do everything? Pay attention to 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 allows your toes to grip and stabilize with every movement. “Personally, I choose a sneaker that’s half a size larger than normal to accommodate foot swelling that occurs with walking and running,” adds Schaeffer, spokesman for Dr. Scholl’s.
However, don’t confuse a roomy toe box with an all-around roomy silhouette. For both lifting and running, you should look for shoes that fit the heel and midfoot to provide stability with every movement. More on that below.
Podiatrist Asim Sayed, DPM, recommends looking at overall foot and ankle stability when shopping for the ultimate cross-training shoe. “A cross-trainer feels a lot more stable than a traditional running shoe because of its wider sole – this helps with stability during lateral movements,” he explains, noting that cross-trainers tend to have less cushioning but also feel heavier due to that the more durable, less airy materials from which they were made. “A good cross trainer shouldn’t have a super reactive midsole. What you sacrifice in responsiveness, you gain in stability, which is important to keep your feet and ankles supported.”
Schaeffer says you should also keep an eye on arch support. Because many lift shoes have flatter soles, many people also consider them flat on the inside. That’s not usually the case—but if it is, Schaeffer recommends adding insoles. “Our feet have a variety of tendons and ligaments that need proper support and help stabilize our bones in the feet,” he previously told Well+Good while detailing what to look for in a pair of deep squat shoes should pay attention.
Remember: the toe box should be roomy; the midfoot upper should not be. “It should be the upper of a good cross trainer [snug], protective and durable as this protects your foot across a range of activities,” says Sayed. He also advises paying attention to the shoelaces. Laces allow the wearer to customize the fit of the shoe to their foot. If a shoe is too loose to be tightened enough with laces, it’s not the right size for you.
While we’re on the subject of laces, Sayed says that for a secure, secure fit, you’re going to need 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 no fun feeling like your feet are soaked in a pool of sweat. For this reason, Schaeffer always recommends looking for a cross training shoe that is designed for breathability. “The breathable, moisture-wicking material for the shoe’s upper prevents hot air from being trapped inside and helps wick sweat away from the foot,” he explains. “These properties help prevent conditions that can cause odor or promote the presence of fungi in the shoe.” Suffice it to say that while breathability doesn’t make the biggest functional difference, it absolutely plays a role in your overall comfort.
It’s only natural to want a pair of shoes that work and it looks great. “Aesthetically, I like a neutral shoe with a pop of color,” shares Bristol. “I want to feel like I go from the gym to brunch in the same look and feel comfortable in any room.” Currently her favorite shoe is the Lululemon Chargefeel, which is designed for both running and training. While it may seem superficial to choose a pair based on their looks, remember that cute kicks can be a major motivator to get you outside – don’t underestimate this.
Check out these versatile options:
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