Choosing The Right Shoes for The Right Activity

Shoes…which ones should you get?

This can be a varied and tricky question for most people. I’m going to answer the question here in the most “Paleo” way that I can.

Your Feet
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Your feet are amazing. For the entire animal kingdom, we are the only species that wear anything to cover our feet. Many of us still love to find time to go barefoot, especially in the summer. I can remember the feeling of having wonderfully tough feet at the end of beach season!

Your feet are amazingly dynamic, having 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, and 19 muscles. There’s a LOT going on down there. It took, quite literally, millions of years of evolution to work out how to get our feet to work properly  and we don’t want to mess it up with a bad choice of shoes!

A bad choice of shoes can impact your whole body….

Are Your Shoes Big Enough?

The biggest problem I find with people and shoes is that the shoes are simply too small for the person’s feet. Many times, going up a half-size or even a full shoe size makes a huge difference in foot pain and comfort when running, lifting, and being our animal selves.

Take your shoe off right now, and put your foot on the ground. Now press into it as if you are going to stand on it. Notice how your toes and forefoot spread with the pressure of your weight? Some of us can actually make our foot 2 sizes longer, just by going from sitting to standing! If your shoe is too small, your foot doesn’t have the room to spread like this! The pressure has to go somewhere, and that someplace can be your joints, ligaments, and the spaces in-between your bones. They end up taking the slack and building up pressure over time. You’d be surprised at how just something being a little off can have big consequences down the line.

Is The Shoe’s Shape Right?
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Ladies, we love you, but ain’t nobody got feet shaped like that. Those pointy shoes you wear that are super cute? I get it, they are super cute. But, your regular, everyday shoes shouldn’t be uncomfortable, and they should be shaped like a foot. I used to have a favorite pair of shoes that I would lift in, but I found that over time, my feet were busting out of the sides. I don’t think I have super-wide feet, but my feet just weren’t shaped like the shoe!

The most common fault here is a shoe that’s simply too narrow. Give your foot some room to spread, and try on a pair or two with a larger, wider forefoot area.

Feet do come in different shapes and sizes, so you may find that you like a narrower or wider shoe, just be sure that the shoe fits YOUR foot, and not some idea of how you want your foot to look. Comfort is key!

What Are You Doing in the Shoe?
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Will you be doing our awesome PaleoFit workouts? Will you be headed to your local gym? A good overall workout shoe is one that is going to be rather basic, without a ton of cushion, and not much rise toward the heel.

Unlike running shoes that have been popularized in the past, a general workout shoe shouldn’t have a ton of cushion in the sole, and for sure not in the heel. For things like squats, and general movement patterns, you want as many of those thousands of nerve endings in your feet to have contact with the ground as possible. If your foot is being over-cushioned, this contact is not happening. You simply can’t get the feedback from your foot to make balance or form corrections. It’s like trying to count dimes on a concrete floor through a thick blanket. I’ll often even have people in my gym actually squat barefoot, and their technique will improve significantly, just by taking OFF their shoes!

Running shoes are an entire different discussion, but for most of us that limit our running to less than a few miles a week (either by design or not), just a general minimalist workout shoe should suffice.

So, you want a shoe that is big enough, fits the shape of your foot properly, and has limited cushioning, so you can make good contact with the ground.

Doesn’t sound too tough, does it? It’s not! There are a lot of options out there these days. Stay tuned…we’re going to give you a round of recommendations!

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