Why Choosing the Right Athletic Shoes is Crucial for Your Performance

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Choosing workout shoes is complicated. It’s not like buying Oxford shoes or a pair of heels. You can’t walk in and pick a pair off a shelf. Buying athletic shoes requires a little more thought and consideration.

You need to consider their purpose and the support your feet need. Choosing the wrong pair of workout shoes can cause trouble in the long run. Our guide covers everything you need to know about athletic shoes and the styles to look for.

Unlocking the Mystery: What Sets Athletic Shoes Apart?

No two athletic shoes are made the same. Unlike other shoes, these have a specific purpose in mind. As the name would suggest, athletic shoes are made with physical activity in mind.

Some are for running, other styles are for cardio workouts, and others are made for hiking. Navigating the world of workout shoes can be confusing, even more so if you suffer from common ailments.

Selena Gomez wears athletic Puma shoes inspired by ballet flatsSelena Gomez wears athletic Puma shoes inspired by ballet flats (Credit: Puma)

The purpose of athletic shoes is to improve your performance during physical activities and to protect you from injury. Think of how running impacts your body and how your feet have to accommodate that.

Athletic shoes have comfort at their core, often prioritizing this over aesthetics. While shoes may look nice, they might not be best suited for your sport. The wrong pair of shoes can lead to an injury that could knock you off your feet for weeks.

Sneakers can be fashionable and are widely used for everyday casual wear, while athletic shoes offer sports-specific levels of cushioning, flexibility, stability, traction, and durabilitySneakers can be fashionable and are widely used for everyday casual wear, while athletic shoes offer sports-specific levels of cushioning, flexibility, stability, traction, and durability (Credit: ARVD73 / Shutterstock)

Athletic shoes are an investment. While you can find cheaper alternatives from mainstream clothing brands, they won’t have the performance technology and support you can get from activewear brands.

You can expect to pay a handsome price for a pair of workout shoes, but the right pair will see you through months of training.

Consider your needs When searching for a pair of athletic shoes. Consider the sports you play and the impact they have on your feet.

Jennie Garth and her daughter Fiona Eve Facinelli test out athletic Adidas shoes with a personal trainerJennie Garth and her daughter Fiona Eve Facinelli test out athletic Adidas shoes with a personal trainer (Credit: WENN)

You should shop around for a pair of workout shoes, and don’t settle for the first pair you find. If you can look in person, it’s worth visiting specialist stores.

A running shop can often help you determine which shoes best suit your movements and feet. When shopping online, you want to find out as much as possible about your chosen style of shoes.

Exploring the Spectrum: The Four Essential Types of Athletic Shoes

There are a pair of athletic shoes for virtually every sport. If you’re an active person who takes part in different sports, you may need to settle for a more generic pair.

Most of us typically have one dominating sport that will determine the type of athletic shoes we should buy.

1. Walking Athletic Shoes

The most basic style of athletic shoes is those designed for walking. Unlike your everyday shoes, this style supports your feet so you can walk several miles at a time.

Walking athletic shoes are made to be comfortable and to protect you from injuriesWalking athletic shoes are made to be comfortable and to protect you from injuries (Credit: ARVD73 / Shutterstock)

If you suffer from arthritis or leg pain, you might find that these shoes are ideal for daily use. Walking shoes prioritize comfort by giving stability at the arch of your foot with a stable sole. As these shoes are fairly basic, they are the most budget-friendly.

2. Running Athletic Shoes

Running shoes are the most popular style of athletic shoes. If you have ever stepped into a sporting goods store, they are probably the first thing you see.

3. Cross-Training Athletic Shoes

If running isn’t your thing, and you do a little of everything, you should look at cross-training shoes. As the name would suggest, these are the most versatile styles of athletic shoes.

Cross-training athletic shoes are versatile and allow a wide range of movementCross-training athletic shoes are versatile and allow a wide range of movement (Credit: Miron85plesu / Shutterstock)

These lighter shoes typically have a mesh lining on the exterior. You can still run in these shoes, but they wouldn’t be recommended for long-term training or distances over 5 miles.

4. Basketball and Tennis Shoes

One thing to keep in mind is the surface that you are working on. You need a different type of sole if you play basketball or tennis. You want as much stability as possible in your shoes.

You’ll find that athletic shoes for basketball have a higher ankle shaft to support your feet while jumping.

The Great Debate: Athletic Shoes vs. Sneakers – Understanding the Difference

You might wonder what the difference is between athletic shoes and sneakers. Aren’t they both comfortable shoes for walking? In reality, they are as different as apples and oranges.

Sneakers prioritize aesthetics over performance and tend to use leather materials. Think of the type of shoes that you might wear at the weekend when wearing jeans.

Popular brands include Vans, Converse, and Superga. Sneakers traditionally sit below the ankle, although high-top sneakers are also available.

Vans sneakers are comfortable but are not considered athletic shoes Vans sneakers are comfortable but are not considered athletic shoes (Credit: Wirestock Creators / Shutterstock)

While these shoes are comfortable for walking around shops and cafes, they aren’t designed for running. You would be better off running in your bare feet.

If you want shoes purely for casual days, pick up a pair of sneakers. Athletic shoes can be worn every day, but their performance ability will decrease over time. If you prefer casual shoes, wear sneakers during the day and athletic shoes when training and working out.

Step Forward with Confidence: Top 4 Athletic Shoes for Walking Enthusiasts

Now that you know what to look for, we have a few recommendations to get you started. Walking shoes are the perfect first pair if you are starting to work out and intend to do lighter exercise.

For many people, walking is the first step in their exercise journey. Walking shoes are the most versatile if you want a pair to wear daily. Here are some of our top recommendations:

1. Reebok Walk Ultra DMX Max Shoes on Amazon

These shoes are designed to make you feel like you are walking on air. It focuses on cushioning your feet while giving you as much support as possible. These Reebok athletic shoes would be an ideal investment if you have supinated feet.

The memory foam gives you the perfect fit, while the rubber sole helps improve your stability.

2. Brooks Addiction Walker at Zappos

If you like to take things slower, these Brooks shoes are for you. They give you maximum support and are made for people who enjoy a stroll.

These shoes include Brooks’ ‘Extended Progressive Diagonal Rollbar’, which supports your arch and keeps your body moving. The slip-resistant soles will keep you walking even when the rain starts.

3. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus at Nike

The Pegasus shoes are perfect if you are looking for something more fashion-forward. Nike describes these shoes as ‘like a caffeine boost for your legs.’

If you are considering taking a step up and experimenting with jogging and running during your walks, these shoes will support you along the way. The Pegasus 37 model has been specifically designed for female walkers and runners.

4. Adidas Terrex AX3 Hiking Shoes at Backcountry

Are your walks a little more adventurous? Do you hike through the mountains and countryside? You might want to look for specific hiking shoes.

These Adidas athletic shoes are also good if you intend to walk further distances, even on more even pathways. They are lightweight, with a durable rubber sole that keeps you going through wet surfaces.

Stand Tall Without the Pain: 3 Superior Athletic Shoes for All-Day Comfort

You might look at this section and wonder why I need shoes for standing. Working out takes many different forms, but all require the right footwear.

Think of all the exercises that you can do while standing up. You can lift weights or work on strength training. You might be someone who is on their feet all day with work. You want a pair of durable and lightweight shoes to see you through the day.

1. Allbirds Wool Runners at Allbirds

Whether lifting weights or working in a hospital ward, you need these shoes to stand all day. They are machine washable and come in a myriad of colors.

Soft and made with merino wool, these ethical shoes will keep your feet comfortable, whatever your workout throws at them.

2. New Balance 990v5 Running Shoes at New Balance

If you’re trying to meet a personal weightlifting record, you want your feet to give you as much support as possible. These NewBalance shoes are ideal for the guy who lives at the gym and is always in the weights section.

The 990v5 shoes prioritize comfort and cushioning, supporting you to smash your workout goals.

3. Brooks Ghost Cushioned Daily Trainer Shoes at Brooks Running

Although these shoes are made for running, they are all-around performance shoes that every athlete needs.

These shoes include Brooks’ ‘BioMoGo DNA’ and ‘DNA LOFT’ cushioning, which keeps your feet comfortable without compromising the durability of the soles. With these shoes, you can take on anything that your workout throws at you.

Easing the Strain: The Top 2 Athletic Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis Relief

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common conditions among athletes. It is caused when the arch of the foot is inflamed, leading to pain around the heel area.

Plantar fasciitis can easily develop if you strain your foot with excessive exercise or by landing on your feet the wrong way. If you deal with this condition, you’ll want to pay extra attention when choosing your athletic shoes.

1. Brooks Glycerin Road Running Shoes on Amazon

When you have to deal with plantar fasciitis, you want shoes that make running feel as seamless as possible.

These shoes include Brook’s OrthoLite sock liner, which adds comfort.b The 3D Fit Print technology gives you added breathability, with the shoes expanding as you exercise to accommodate your feet.

2. New Balance Fresh Foam Cushioning Shoes at New Balance

Shock absorption should be a top requirement when choosing athletic shoes. The Fresh Foam midsole in these shoes provides extra softness and makes it easier for your feet to rebound between each stride.

They promise 360 degrees of comfort with an Ultra Heel that will protect your heel from the shock of hitting the ground while running or exercising.

All activities and sports require care in choosing specific athletic shoesAll activities and sports require care in choosing specific athletic shoes (Credit: Atiwat Witthayanurut / Shutterstock)

We hope this guide makes it easier for you to find the perfect pair of workout shoes. There’s no denying that it’s a more complicated process than buying casual everyday shoes.

You should think of them as an investment in your exercise routine and to boost your performance. The key to finding the right pair of athletic shoes is understanding your foot type and the pressure your sport puts on your feet.

Once you understand this, it’ll be easier to find the right pair for you. Start small, and don’t be afraid to try a few pairs until you find the perfect fit!