We all like to have the newest technology and the same goes for shoes. From air max to sketchers to skeleton shoes to minimalist workout shoes, people want the newest, coolest footwear, but did you know the type of shoes you wear affect your gains.

Let’s look at the kinetic chain. The kinetic chain is how your body moves in relation to joints and how one affects the other. For example, in the squat, if the ankle is unstable, the knee will be unstable which will cause instability in the hip and so on up the kinetic chain, eventually causing muscular imbalances. Wearing workout shoes that have an air bubble at the bottom of the shoe will not provide stability, which hinders your goal before you even begin. Now you can start to see where your workout footwear can have an impact on your performance.

When it comes to performance, golfers wear golf shoes that provide grip, tennis players wear tennis shoes that support lateral movement and sprinters wear shoes that promote ankle flexion and so on. The footwear doesn’t make them the great athlete, but it supports them in their goal. You must do the same.

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So what type of workout shoes should you wear?

Just like athletes, based on your goal, you must choose your shoes accordingly. If your goal is to get stronger, you must work in a progressive overload pattern, meaning you must increase the stimulus placed on the muscle at increasing loads in order to gain strength.

If you are deadlifting, (one of my favorite exercises) an exercise that needs great amounts of stability at the ankle, you must wear footwear like Olympic lifting shoes or minimalist shoes that will support that exercise.  Even barefoot would be more beneficial to your lift than wearing high soled shoes. If you are a street runner, the more support you have the better, so a cross training shoe would suit. Based on your goals, if the shoe fits, must wear it.

How often should I change my footwear?

Personally, I have 3 pairs of shoes that I wear to cross-train that I interchange not only to increase performance, but to decrease wear and lengthen the life of workout shoes. I have 1 pair of Olympic lifting shoes for squats, deadlifts and of course Olympic lifts. Then, I have two pairs of cross trainers that I use for conditioning. I also change the laces once the shoe begins to feel loose. According to research, the recommended cycle of workout shoes is 300 miles of activity, which, for the average fitness enthusiast is about 6 months.

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Should I wear minimalist/skeleton shoes?

Minimalist/skeleton shoes are the most primal shoe, in that they mimic how we naturally use our feet. (Try walking around a whole day without shoes: It hurts). They are a great idea, however, be cautious! Going from running in running shoes to minimalist without a progression will cause injury. Start with 30 minutes walking barefoot  every day for a week and progress to 45 minutes daily and then begin running training or doing what you do.

So NOW what do I do?

Set specific goals, (excluding “I want to be healthy”) go to a trained professional and ask for an Overhead Squat Assessment or a Functional Movement Screen and find your imbalances before you begin training. Get your gait assessed to see if your running form is correct and only then can you begin to build real strength and see true gains, injury free.

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