By Paul Boisvert
NSPA Certified Conditioning Specialist/Group Instructor
A few years back (I won’t say how many) I helped manage the footwear department for a major sporting goods chain at the start of its expansion outside of its home state. Different reps from all the major brand names i.e., Reebok, Nike, New Balance, Wolverine, etc. would hold an occasional clinic on the use of their products. From hunting boots to basketball shoes, the theme remained the same from one brand rep to the next. Footwear should be used for the activity that it was designed for. While some differences in footwear may be obvious, there are others that are more subtle. I’ve noticed that running shoes are the most abundant sneaker at most footwear stores. Many people will purchase a pair of runners with no intention of running in them. Because of the wide selection, it’s easier to find runners that fit the style that you are in the market for. However, most running shoes are not a good fit for some of the lateral (side to side) movements performed in step classes, boot camp classes, and kickboxing classes. Their soles do not offer the lateral traction that training footwear have. This is important when it comes to performing side to side movements with agility especially as the momentum increases. More control means that there is less risk of injury. Runners and walking shoes generally only offer heel/toe traction for their specific use. In fact, the design of entire shoe is mainly focused on the heel/toe movement. A training shoe, on the other hand, will provide support for heel/toe and lateral movements.
The tricky part is to make sure that you are purchasing a training shoe. The best way to get around this would be to look on the internet for training shoes and make note of their model number. Stores don’t always label these sneakers as trainers.
If you have given up on activity because it did not feel right, you may want to take another look at your sneakers. They could be the culprit. Don’t throw them out. Keep them for that 5K that you’ve been putting off.