The important parts of athletic shoes! Lifting v running shoes? Squishy v hard?

This video summarises great cushioned footwear at an affordable price range.

The important parts of athletic shoes! Lifting v running shoes? Squishy v hard?

 Currently there are approximately 1233 different shoe brands on the market. Imagine trying to work out between them which is best. Podiatrists typically understand footwear to some degree. However, with the right knowledge, sporting background and the right expertise, footwear can play an important roll in performance, pain and rehab. A perfect example is a case of heel pain and a flat foot type. Generally, a stability shoe with a cushioned heel is a great adjunct treatment to assist with pain modification.


So.. how can we make it easier? Other then seeing your local Newcastle Podiatrist of course..

Well, if we pick a few characteristics of a shoe and apply that to the task at hand, it can narrow it down quite an amount. Shoes are designed to create a buffer between the ground reaction force and the lower limb. For a very specific example, running on a road will cause a vibration effect through our tibia and fibula (lower leg bones) which can be dampened through a softer and cushioned midsole.

Here are some basic guidelines to help.


  1. Drop it

Shoe drop is the difference in height between the heel and the toe. In general for people who train with weights, the lower the drop the better. Most running shoes have a drop of around 8 – 10mm. For a good gym/lifting/CrossFit/powerlifting shoe, you’re looking for a drop of no more than 3 – 4 mm. The lower drop helps to distribute the weight more evenly inside your shoes, essentially mimicking being barefoot. This helps to provide you with a stable platform for all those deadlifts, cleans, box jumps, leg press whilst engaging the glutes and hamstrings. Some people can also use shoes with higher drops between 10-15mm. Essentially, the higher heel gives your ankle more range to work through which allows you to get into a deeper squat position without leaning forwards.



  1. The sole
  • Imagine trying to do a shoulder press while standing on your bed. It’s going to feel unbalanced and unstable compared to doing that on the firm ground. If we use that analogy to think about when we are lifting weights, we begin to see why different shoe characteristics are important. If we use a firm, wide based shoe with minimal flexibility when weightlifting, we are going to have stable base to push from and allow you to ‘feel’ the floor. In comparison, that type of shoe would not be appropriate when running. We would then look at using a jogger to allow movement of the foot and to provide cushioning for shock absorption.


  • As I was saying before, there are a lot of shoes out there. A lot of people will tell you the shoe to wear which has worked for them, but we know through over 20 years of shoe research, countless meta-analysis and RCT’s that comfort is one of the most important factors when choosing a shoe. Comfort is going to be different between people. If you put the shoe on in store and go for a walk or run (which you should always do) and you think it doesn’t feel right, most likely that isn’t the shoe for you. Ask the retailor, can I try something similar, and you will be surprised that a shoe that looks the exact same from the outside can be so different to try on.


  • Its also important to understand your foot type with choosing footwear. Sporting shoes typically will feel and perform better when matched to a persons foot type. The research is divided on which foot types do better. Typically, flat feet do better with stability shoes and high arched people do better with cushioned and a wide platform.


  • Fun fact about running shoes which im sure running shoe stores won’t tell you – the foam they use through their midsoles (EVA or react foam) can sometimes be faulty in up to 15% of manufactured shoes so always try a few pairs on.



Blake about us

Blake Withers

Blake has a passion for endurance athletes and in particular, runners. His post graduate research investigated perceptions around footwear and foot type within this group. He is a keen athlete himself, finishing 3rd recently in the Noosa Triathlon in his respected category and 1st in the Glasshouse 100 (15km) trail run through the Glasshouse mountains. He currently continues to train for marathons, triathlons, and Ironman events. ‘Building resilience is one of the most important aspects I have found to be pivotal in the rehab journey’

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