26. Juli 2022, by FORA

The right shoe for every training

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Barefoot to the gym? Or do you prefer shoes with a high platform? Finding the right shoe for the respective workout can prove difficult - but it is essential. The FIBO team spoke with expert Dr. Matthias Schuffert-Raguse about what to look out for when choosing.

Why are the right shoes so important?

The orthopedist and trauma surgeon Dr. Matthias Schuffert-Raguse explains that from an orthopedic-sports medicine perspective, the wearing of specific footwear is unreservedly recommended for a variety of sports activities. Unsuitable footwear, which does not correspond to the respective type of sport, offers an increased risk of acute and late damage in the area of the feet, the extremity joints and the entire spinal column. Virtually cushioned fabric shoes are not suitable for intense athletic activities, but at best for recreational sports. The right footwear enables correct training, reduces the risk of injury and increases the effectiveness of the respective training. 

Strength training

For training shoes, the right size and shape are crucial. The sole of the shoe should be flat and not padded to achieve good power transmission. When training with weights, a secure footing is essential. Therefore, the sole must be slip-resistant. The laces help to fix the shoe to the ankle and make the foot flexible for all movements, such as lunges. When training on equipment, the shoe should be lightweight and barely noticeable. No shoe is perfect. Still, there are some things to consider when choosing footwear.  

If you want to lift heavy weights, you can use weightlifting shoes. Their high heel wedge allows a better posture, for example, during squats. Even if they look a little special, the shoes fulfill their purpose ideally: they are heavy and have a stiff sole to provide maximum stability during exercise. The Velcro closure and integrated heel support also guarantee this. For powerlifting, however, athletes should alternate between weightlifting shoes and extremely flat shoes. Weightlifting shoes are also suitable for squats and bench presses. For deadlifts, nonetheless, lower soles are recommended because the range of motion is shorter. Many professional lifters rely on special flat, rigid and non-slip shoes, as they ensure the shortest possible lever travel.  

Orthopedist and trauma surgeon Dr. Schuffert-Raguse advises: “If necessary, for example in the gym, you can imitate the effect of a weightlifting shoe with a normal sports shoe by lifting the heels slightly. This can be done with a flat weight plate, for example. Not every recreational athlete will use a special shoe for every specific load. However, if a sport is played professionally, the footwear should usually be adapted to the load.” 

Barefoot training is also recommended because it has a stimulating effect on the organism and trains many stabilization muscles. But the feet need time to get used to barefoot training. Therefore, the change from training with sports shoes to training should be gradual.

Cross training, circuit, HIIT

A good stance and a slightly elevated heel are important for CrossFit, circuit or HIIT training. Especially during CrossFit training, sufficient lateral support is essential. The shoes must cushion the varied exercises during jumps and runs and provide adequate stability during occasional strength training sessions. There are also special universal or cross fit training shoes that combine stability, cushioning, and support. Furthermore, the light weight of the shoes can contribute to a higher performance.                         

Running

Basically, the same shoes are suitable for running in the gym as outside. Cushioned soles are particularly suitable, as they are easy on the joints. However, they are not recommended for deadlifts or squats because otherwise the knees can be overloaded. With running shoes, it is also significant to change the shoes every 500 to 800 kilometers to avoid heavy wear.

Cycling

Shoes with particularly stiff soles are recommended for indoor cycling. This allows cyclists to better transfer power to the pedals. Anyone who does regular endurance training on a bike should use mountain bike shoes or other sports shoes with a firm sole. Shoes with a click system also enable energy-efficient riding. This is because power is transferred to the pedal not only during the upward movement, but also during the downward movement.  

Dr. Schuffert-Raguse explains: “A runner needs cushioning taking into account the daily or weekly mileage, leg axis, foot shape, height, and weight of the athlete. The cyclist (indoor and outdoor), on the other hand, requires cycling shoes with stiff soles to be able to apply power well to the pedals, to protect the forefoot in a targeted manner and to increase effectiveness in training. For almost every sport, there are a variety of sport-specific footwear requirements that athletes must consider when exercising regularly. The footwear industry now offers suitable solutions for almost every sport.” 

General tips

  1. The right shape and size are essential. It is best to have both feet measured in a specialty store to find the individual fitting shoe. 
  2. The upper material of the shoe should be breathable. This allows air to reach the feet and prevents the formation of sweat odors and bacterial infections.  
  3. Shoes that are used for a long time often become brittle and worn over time. Especially shoes that are supposed to cushion or support can suffer from this. Replace shoes for the gym therefore regularly. 
  4. Hygiene rules in the gym must be strictly observed. Never wear street shoes for training in the gym. 
  5. Fit the shoe exactly to your individual workout. For most exercises and for beginners, however, a shoe that offers stability and is comfortable for you is sufficient.