What essential traits should your training shoe have? Here’s your ultimate shopping checklist
When it comes to finding the perfect training shoe that you’ll wear time and time again, there are certain key traits that prove pivotal when reducing the risk of injury and maximising the efficacy of your workouts. Whether you’re looking to cross-train, lunge, squat, sprint or deadlift your way to a stronger, fitter you, here’s our ultimate checklist for ensuring your trainers flex as much muscle as you do.
To get optimum mileage out of your training shoe, opt for one with a sole that’s as diverse as your training routine. What does that mean exactly? Think innovative multi-density outsole geometry that supports a greater range of movements, directions and exercises.
One such shoe that does just that is the new Nike Free Transform Flyknit , whose midsole and outsole tri-star pattern moves multi-directionally to support more dynamic movement and expands and contracts to disperse pressure equally. “Its multi-density sole allows enhanced impact control at initial contact,” says Prosthetist and Orthotist Serena Stubbs , to offer sturdiness and versatility in equal measure from the get-go. A must in anyone’s HIIT kit.
In order to transition from squat to lunge to burpee to weights with increased speed but reduced risk of injury, ideally look for a training shoe that supports the way your foot naturally moves. “A neutral and flexible shoe is always best for these activities as they provide freedom of movement for rapid change of direction and are stable when balancing into lunges etc. too,” says Serena.
3. Sufficient cushioning
“Avoid shoes that do not bend at the same place as your toes, as this may impede the foot’s natural ability to ‘push off’ through the forefoot,” advises Serena. For a suppler, more supportive sole, look for a training shoe that offers foam cushioning for enhanced comfort. “The Nike Free Transform Flyknit provides sufficient cushioning at the forefoot to enhance the windlass effect of the great toe which acts as a natural ‘lever arm’ for propulsion,” explains Serena. “The windlass effect is a natural ‘winding up’ mechanism of the foot which, when activated, naturally lifts up the arch. If you lift up any of the toes (especially the big toe) you will feel the base of your big toe pushing into the ground and a tightening/shortening of the plantar fascia which results in a lifting of the arch of your foot.” For additional support around the ankle, we’d also recommend the Nike Free TR 6 women’s training shoe which boasts all the benefits of the Transform Flyknit, but with lightweight moulded ankle foaming and rubber pods on the sides for greater stability.
4. A wider forefoot
“Avoid shoes that are too narrow across the forefoot,” Serena cautions. Ideally what you’re after is a training shoe whose material is durable but also malleable enough to cater to the shape, size and width of your foot to provide the best of surface areas for withstanding the pressures of a training session. “A shoe whose sole is too narrow for the foot may increase abnormal forces through the metatarsals and increase the chance of injury,” explains Serena.
5. Training-specific support
Long gone are the days of clunky heavy training shoes that acted more as a hindrance than a helping hand. More breathable, lightweight fabrics and designs with subtle training-specific support now lead the way when it comes to giving your workout a boost. “The material for the uppers is important in terms of both support over the sole unit and ‘proprioceptive feedback’ (sensory awareness of your foot’s position),” explains Serena. Look for qualities such as flywire cables in the forefoot and upper heel for support and ultralight foam cushioning for comfort, both of which are incorporated into the new Nike Free Transform Flyknits.
Furthermore, its raised sole ensures more natural support to accommodate more dynamic movement. “The shoe’s natural elevated heel pitch and mouldable midfoot support (flywire upper) offers the perfect balance between freedom and support,” says Serena.
Sounds like the perfect fit to us.
Written in partnership with Nike.