Don’t forget your shoes

So you have been working out for a while now. You’re starting to see some results and you feel better about how you look and feel. Then, for no reason that you can fathom, you start to feel a slight pain in your knees, foot-pain-symptoms1ankles or lower back that wasn’t there a day or two ago. You think to yourself; “My form is still good and I’m not pushing myself beyond my limits, why am I feeling pain now?”

**If this pain is persistent, chronic, or you are taking pain relievers just so you can get thru your day, see your doctor immediately!**

You look at the program you are doing. You look at the amount of weight you are using. You double check your form to make sure that you’re not over stressing your body. You even look at the floor. But you can’t see any of these as the cause of your pain. When was the last time you looked at your shoes?

When was the last time that you bought a new pair of shoes? Was it a few weeks ago? Was it a few months ago? A year ago? Longer than a year? And are the shoes you are using designed for the type of exercise you are doing? Are you running wearing cross trainers or walking shoes? Are you cross training using running shoes? Yes there definite differences in how exercise shoes are made.

Running shoes are designed for straight ahead motion. They usually have extra cushion or shock absorption in the heel and better flexibility in the area of the ball of your foot. They also have little or no support for lateral (side to side) motion. Cross trainers have less cushion in the heal, are usually less flexible and have additional support for lateral motion and some have extra ankle support. Walking shoes are just for what they are labeled as, walking.

If you are using the shoes designed to “shape your butt” while walking for exercising, STOP. You can do very painful and long term injury to yourself.

These shoes look fine but the internal support is gone.
These shoes look fine but the internal support is gone.

Then there is the question of how often should you replace your shoes. I’m sure that you have heard the saying “if it ain’t, don’t fix it” more than once. Well your exercise shoes can break too. I’m not talking about the side blowing out or the sole peeling off, although those are definite signs that your shoes are ready to be replaced. I’m talking about the internal support of the shoe. When you are jumping, running, playing tennis or anything else that requires shoes including your job; shoes have a definite expiration date. If you exercise 3-6 days a week, your shoes will generally last 6 months. That’s right I said 6 months. By that time there has been more than sufficient time for the internal support to have been used to its capacity and break. When that happens, more of the impact of your exercise is transferred to your foot, then ankle and up to your knees, and then your hips and lower back and the damage can travel all the way up to the base of your skull. Remember the old song that goes the hip bone is connected to the leg bone? Well it’s especially true when you are doing any type of physical exercise.

At work, what type of surface are you standing on all day? How many steps do you take every day? How much weight do you lift and carry? Do you constantly rotate on your heels or the ball of your foot? After spending too many years in construction, I learned the hard way that good shoes are as important as any of my other tools. The best advice I can give for you is to go to a reputable supplier of work shoes, get your feet measured and tell the associate exactly what type of work you do. That way they can match you up with the proper foot wear.

Now that I am in the health and fitness industry, I needed to look at how my work would impact the life of my shoes. Teaching classes, doing personal training, and adding my own workout into the mix, I now need to replace my shoes every 3 months. That may sound excessive, but consider that as a fitness professional, you are actually working out to some degree all day. And that wears out your shoes at much faster rate. I also don’t use my workout shoes as everyday shoes. They are just for in the gym and working out.

Now that you know that your shoes have a “used up by” date on them, ask yourself is it time to get new shoes? If the shoes you are using are not blown out the side and still have the sole on them, you may still be able to use them as everyday shoes. But if you are feeling any pain in your feet or up your body to the spine, you may want to just retire your current shoes altogether.

Here’s to your continued success on your health and fitness journey.


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