The Right Shoe Matters: Don’t Cross Train In Running Shoes

Wearing the wrong footwear when you exercise may increase your risk of injury. We explain how to choose the shoe that’s right for your exercise program.

You’ve been reading about the benefits of cross training, and you’re sold. You already run, but you want to add strength training and flexibility exercises to create a more balanced fitness routine. You like the idea of a more comprehensive exercise program that will lower your risk of an overuse injury, and a broader variety of workouts to keep things interesting. Your doctor has approved your new program. Time to lace up your running shoes and head to the gym for some strength training, right?

Not so fast.

The kind of support your feet need while you run is very different from the features that stabilize your feet and ankles during the lunges and jumps you perform during cross training activities. Traditional running shoes are designed to absorb the repetitive high impact of feet hitting a relatively flat surface in a straight line at a constant pace. The cushioning in traditional running shoes softens each impact and also creates a higher center of gravity for your foot. This makes running shoes less stable during side-to-side movements. Also, because runners move straight ahead, running shoes don’t require structured ankle support. If you cross train in running shoes, your risk of a sprained ankle is much greater.

Save your running shoes for those weekends or mornings when you are running at least a mile or more. Invest in a pair of cross trainers for the strength and flexibility aspects of your exercise program. Here are the features you should look for when you are choosing cross training shoes:

  • Shoe soles should have traction to keep you from slipping, and pivot points for easy turning.
  • Shoes with a high top will help stabilize your ankles.
  • If you are going to be jumping or climbing, avoid bulk. Look for light, durable, flexible materials that surround your foot with support and move with you.

The right shoe will make your transition to cross training easier—and safer.

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