The Science of Sports and Athletic Shoes

Choosing the right shoe is one of the most essential aspects to outfitting yourself for any type of athletic activity. The way your feet hit the ground has an enormous impact on almost every single aspect of your performance. It can influence the occurrence of injury you experience, influence your stamina and even impact which muscles are being worked during your routine. To find the right shoe for your needs, you'll need to learn a little about the different types of athletic shoes that are on the market. Only then will you have a good starting point for beginning your further research.

The Main Types of Shoes

There are three commonly-accepted types of shoes that all other footwear categories fall under. These three types are: walking, running and training shoes. The entire breadth of physical activity is contained within subcategories that are all housed underneath one of those three big shoe types. For example, a hiking shoe or boot would fall under the "walking" category described above. These three categories are themselves broken down into unique subcategories that more accurately reflect the nature of the activity. These subcategories are very diverse and can encompass everything from speed-walking to minimalist running.

The Major Subcategories

There are a few major subcategories found within the different types of shoes. Each type of shoe should be addressed individually. However, for the sake of brevity, the running and walking types will be discussed jointly.

Subcategories of Running and Walking Shoes

There are three popular subcategories to keep in mind when you're looking into walking or running shoes. These categories are based largely upon the way your foot hits the ground when you run and how your feet are shaped. There are different sizes and shapes available within these three subcategories, but this will give you the most comprehensive understanding of the important categories.

Neutral shoes are shoes that are designed for people with a high arch and who more commonly land with a forefoot strike. These shoes do not provide a significant amount of support and are often lighter than other types of running shoes. People who want to learn how to run with a forefoot strike may be able to get some use out of these shoes as well.

Stability shoes are for people with an arch that could be considered to be "middle range" and who run with either a forefoot or mid-foot strike. These shoes provide a little support for your arches while also helping you keep your feet hitting the ground evenly. These are especially useful for people who find it hard to keep their feet landing in the same spot throughout a run.

Motion control shoes are shoes that provide a significant level of support for people who have very flat feet. People who have flat feet often have a hard time keeping their feet stable throughout the course of a run. It is also very common for runners with flat feet to strain their plantar muscles while running. This is especially true for runners who have flat feet and who also want to run with a forefoot strike.

A less common type of shoe that is growing in popularity is known as the "barefoot" or "minimalist" style of shoe. These shoes provide a bare minimum of support and require the runner or walker to use a forefoot strike instead of a heel strike to avoid injury.

Subcategories of Training Shoes

Cross-training shoes are perhaps the most ubiquitous shoes you can find on the market today. These shoes are designed to be nearly interchangeable for athletes going from one activity to another. The reason they are called "cross-training" shoes is that they are used across different training activities. These shoes are often larger and heavier than more specialized sport-specific shoes. However, what they lack in light weight they more than make up for with versatility.

These shoes are most commonly used in gym training and are perhaps one of the most widely-purchased types of shoe on the market. Due to their popularity, these shoes are often less expensive than specialized running shoes or even biking shoes. This only increases their popularity and it's not difficult to find a wide range of shoes to choose from.

Take Your Time

Making a decision like this is often much more important than people think. It's not enough to pick just any old shoe for your training routine. Finding the right shoe will require you to take a wide range of factors into consideration and it may be a while before you find the perfect one for you. However, this doesn't mean that it's overtly burdensome to find a shoe that works for you. When you take the time to research your options and try out many different shoes, you'll definitely find something you'll love.