Recently I was in a HIIT class and, per usual, I was taking note of everyone’s gear, specifically their choice of sneakers. I have to say, I was kind of taken aback by what I saw: The majority of the folks in class were sporting running shoes instead of cross trainers (gasp!). It took every fiber of my being to not go to each person individually and tell them how their current kick decision may be setting them up for injury down the line.
Think I’m just being a worrywart? Think again.
“Running typically involves relatively straight line motion at relatively constant paces over flat surfaces,” explains Paul Langer, DPM, a podiatrist in Minneapolis, and author of Great Feet for Life. “It’s also an activity that is high impact and very repetitive (2.5 x body weight per step and 1,000-1,500 steps per mile), and because of this, the shoes are well cushioned and lack lateral stability. The cushioning results in a midsole that is thicker than training shoes and the foot higher above the ground. This higher center of gravity also makes the shoes less stable with lateral, side-to-side movements.”
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But that’s not all. “Running shoes also have a lighter, less structured upper than trainers,” Langer notes, making it “much easier to sprain an ankle in a conventional running shoe while doing activities that involve anything other than straight ahead movement.”
So to make your transition easier, we found a few great cross trainers that can seamlessly take you from circuit training to cardio classes and everything in between. (If you are running less than a mile or so at a time, Langer does say that a cross trainer could suffice.) Making this swap could not only help make your workouts safer, but better and stronger, too.
Your arch will stay supported and comfortable in the adidas Pure Boost X Training Shoes ($120; adidas.com). A rubber outsole makes your quick moves smooth and the boost midsole makes you feel light on your feet.
Built to handle even the most challenging WOD (workout of the day), the Reebok CrossFit Nano 4.0 ($120; amazon.com) sports a cage-like rubber webbing for added durability—just what you need when battling rope climbs.
Don’t let bulky sneaks weigh you down during box jumps. Go for a lighter (and more breathable) pair like the eye-catching Under Armour UA Micro G Sting ($100; amazon.com).
Make quick lateral moves in the Nike Free TR 5 Flyknit ($130; nike.com) with confidence; it has special Flyknit technology that adapts to the shape of your foot to provide superior support and flexibility.
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Super cushy and cute to boot, you’ll find yourself reaching for the New Balance 811 ($75; zappos.com) not only on circuit training days, but when you’re running errands, too.
Consider the Asics Gel-Craze TR2 ($85; amazon.com) your perfect all-around trainer; its heft helps it stand up to tough training, while its flexible form moves with the foot, allowing you to tackle directional changes with ease and grace.