How to Choose Shoes for Exercising

How to Choose Shoes for Exercising
Alicia Sabatino, CEP



  1. Think about what type of exercise you will participate in. Are you a runner, cyclist, or elliptical enthusiast? Do you spend more time doing weight training or HIIT? There are a ton of different shoes types out there from running and walking shoes, court sport shoes, cross training shoes, and so on. Depending on your routine, you may consider multiple shoe types. Different shoe types suit different activity styles. For example, shoes suitable for weight lifting are not ideal for long runs.
  2. Analyze an old pair of shoes to see where the wear pattern is. This will allow you to see where your foot pressure is emphasized. 
  3. If the inner side of your shoe is more worn this may indicate that you over pronate your foot (foot falls inwards). Overpronators often have flat feet or low arches that place most of the impact on the inner side of your foot. When not supported properly injury may occur.
  4. If the wear pattern is on the outside of the shoe you may under pronate (foot turns out). This type of wear is often associated with rigid, high arch feet. This type of movement causes increased strain on the ankle and lower leg which can lead to orthopedic problems.
  5. If the wear pattern is even, your foot pronates normally. This is the most efficient movement of which your foot creates even weight distribution and force absorption. These indicators are helpful in choosing the proper shoe for you. 

Running Shoe Styles for Each Foot Type

  • Neutral: These are optimal for those who have normal pronation or a neutral foot. This shoe provides gentle arch support with high density foam to provide rear foot stability and forefoot flex
  • Stability Shoes: These shoes are optimal for those with mild to moderate pronation. They provide more stability to control pronation often with guide rails to control side to side motion. Not as rigid as motion control shoes 
  • Motion Control Shoes: Ideal for those with moderate to severe over pronation. These shoes have special construction for extra rigidity at the arch and midsole area and stiffer heel to help prevent the foot from falling inward too much.
  • Cushioning Shoes: These are best for those who under pronate or supinate the foot. Due to the foot already being highly rigid, the shoe provides optimal cushion and minimal rigidity 


  1. Consider shopping at a quality running store and have your feet analyzed. These types of stores generally offer free gait and foot pressure pattern analysis to give you guidance on optimal shoes for your body and exercise style. The staff at these stores are generally very knowledgeable about the various shoes out and will help you through the process in figuring out the best fit for you. Be patient in the process!
  2. Keep up with replacing your shoes. If you continue to wear shoes that have lost their force absorption ability, your joints end up taking on the brunt of the load. This can lead to pain and excessive overload on your joints like your ankles, knees, and hips. It is recommended to replace your running shoes every 300- 500 miles or every 6 months. Often orthopedic issues stem from the feet!

Shoe Shopping Tips


  • Shop later in the day to allow for your foot’s natural swelling that occurs during the day.
  • Try on BOTH shoes and walk /jog around the store. Our feet are sometimes different so it’s important to make sure the shoes feel good on both feet.
  • Allow room between your big toe and the end of the shoe (about a thumbnail width). You should be able to wiggle your toes but still feel snug.
  • Make sure you wear your socks, orthotics or anything else that you might typically wear while running to mimic what it will feel like when you’re not in the store. 
  • Keep in mind that every brand is different so find one that fits right and feels comfortable to you! Just because a shoe sounds good on paper doesn’t mean it’s going to feel good for you personally.