How To Choose Exercise Shoes…?

Last week on CCFM Radio we were chatting about exercise equipment and clothing and the topic that seemed to create the most confusion was: “How do you choose the right exercise shoes?”

So, I thought that I would summarise the most important things to consider when buying shoes for exercise:

  1. Get the right shoe NOT the cheapest shoe
  2. Get your foot measured (length & width) in store
  3. Try the shoe on before you buy – it must feel comfortable
  4. Get a shoe that is designed for the activity that you are doing
    • Walking / Running –> running shoe
    • Gym –> trainer / running shoe
    • Squash / Tennis –> squash / tennis shoe
    • Soccer –> soccer boot

Now, if you are looking for a running shoe, this is where it can get very confusing because there are so many different running shoes:

  1. Neutral / Stability
  2. Cushioned
  3. Motion Control

Most people are confused by the technical terms used, especially the word “Pronation”. The first thing you must know about pronation is that it is a normal and necessary movement of your foot to help absorb shock…it is basically the rolling in movement of your foot as you take weight through it. Now, to understand running shoes all you need to know is that some people have too much pronation, some people just enough and others too little. It is from these 3 variations that they make the 3 types of shoe.

So, how do you know what your foot does?

There are 2 ways:

  1. Look at the wear pattern under your existing shoes (on the sole of the shoe)
    • almost everyone has a wear pattern at the outside of the back of the shoe
    • then as your foot rolls in, this is where it all seems to differ
    • if most of the wear is toward the inside of the front of the shoe (toward the big toe) then you probably pronate too much (overpronate)
    • if most of the wear is in the middle of the front of the shoe then you have a neutral foot
    • if most of the wear is toward the outside of the front of the shoe then you probably pronate too little (underpronate or supinate)







2). Do the “wet foot test”

  1. wet the bottom of your feet and stand on some newspaper for about a minute
    • then look at the wet imprint left on the newspaper
    • You have a normal arch (neutral pronation) if there is a distinct curve along the inside of your foot between your heel and toes (a band a little less than half the width of your foot connecting the heel and toe)
    • You have a low arch (flat feet/overpronator) if there is not much of a curve along the inside of your foot and your imprint shows almost the entire foot
    • You have a high arch (underpronator) if there is a very sharp curve along the inside of your foot and your imprint shows a very thin band between your heel and toe






So, to summarise everything above, here is how you know what foot type you have and which shoe you need:

  1. Pronate too much (overpronation) –> you have a low arch / flat foot –> you need a motion control shoe
  2. Pronate just enough –> you have a normal arch / neutral foot –> you need a neutral (or stability) shoe
  3. Pronate too little –> you have a high arch –> you need a cushioned shoe


Let me know your thoughts and if you have any further questions below…

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Leave A Reply (2 comments so far)

  1. Isaac
    6 years ago

    Hi Robin

    A tremendous thank you for your fantastic website!I really found your info on pronation very useful,now I know and understand which training shoes my wife and I need to buy!

    I am 53yrs old.My wife is 49yrs young!We are both about 25kgs overweight!Can you make any recommendations for a good exercise program,please?I have started with brisk walking for 30min for 5days per week?

    I thank you kindly!GOD bless!

    Isaac Moses

  2. robinbuck
    6 years ago

    Hi Isaac,

    Thanks for your kind words about the website. In terms of exercise to maximise weight loss (or more specifically body fat loss), metabolic resistance training and interval training cardio are the best.

    Brisk walking is a good start, but in order to change this into “interval training” (which is more effective), rather alternate between fast and slow walking or a run and a walk. So, an example would be to do 1 minute fast walk (or run) and then 1-2 minutes slow recovery. Do this 2 – 3 times per week for 20-30 minutes.

    Also add some metabolic resistance training (2-3 times per week) to help build some lean muscle to boost your metabolism. Just start with the resources uploaded in the metabolism makeover – just click on the resources tab on the website and you can download some workouts and workout music there.

    Please let me know if you have any other questions/queries and keep me posted on your and your wife’s progress.

    Yours in Fitness,