Picking the Right Exercise Shoes for You

An Article Written by Yen-Chii Wong
Podiatrist – New Step Podiatry


Walking into a shoe store can be overwhelming – even if you have an idea of what you want, the massive selection of shoes can leave you feeling a little lost. Some of the questions we hear as podiatrists include: Why do we need different shoes for different activities? Can you wear running shoes to walk? How do I know if this shoe fits my foot properly?
In this post we will try to make the world of footwear a little less daunting for you next time you look for new shoes.

What are the main features of a shoe?

When it comes down to the basics, shoes are made from an upper, outsole and midsole.

The upper of the shoe wraps around the top of the foot and holds it in place. Depending on what the shoe is bein

g used for, an upper is made from different materials and components.

The outsole sits on the bottom of the shoe and is contacts the ground. It can be made from flexible or durable rubber materials, depending on what you need from your shoe. Shoes for different activities will have different outsoles – for example, trail running shoes will have deeper and larger grooves, but road running shoe outsole will have shallower and narrower grooves. Outsole wear patterns can also tell us secrets about how you walk!



The midsole sits in between the outsole and the innersole and provides most of the shoe’s cushioning and stability. Normally, a midsole is made of materials that are both shock-absorbing and durable. Shoes that often more stability may use a plate or different densities of rubber on one side of the midsole to make it stiffer and encourage more motion in a certain direction. Some shoes don’t have a thick midsole to make it easier for you to have ‘ground feel’ or to provide a harder base which is important for certain sports like weightlifting.

The innersole is located inside the shoe and directly under your foot. Its main function is to provide a bit more cushioning for your foot. Some innersoles might also have extra features like arch support or metatarsal domes. Most are relatively thin, comfortable, and can be removable. A removable innersole allows for a foot orthotic to be placed into the shoe without taking up too much space.

Why do we need different shoes for different activities?

Shoes were originally worn to protect our feet from anything dangerous on the ground. Fast forward a couple of thousand years, and now we have specialised shoes for different sports and activities. Now, shoes are also worn to facilitate performance in your sport and reduce impact forces. The shoes you wear for running are built very differently to those you would wear to play football, to help you perform at your best for the different movements involved in each sport.

When using the below chart, if your activity isn’t listed, look at an activity that is on similar surfaces or has similar movements e.g. road running shoes for walking, to find the features of your required shoe.

How do I know if my shoe fits properly?

We recommend having feet measured and shoes fitted by an expert. If you don’t have access to the service, here are some ways to check if your shoes fit well:

– It should feel comfortable to walk and stand in.

– There should be a thumb width’s length from the end of the longest toe to the end of the innersole.

– The foot should not hang over the edge of the innersole or cause bulging of the upper’s material.

An easy way to check shoe fit is by removing the innersole and placing your foot on top of it. This makes it easy to visualize how your foot will sit once it is inside the shoe. No more wiggling your big toe to try and locate where it sits in the shoe!

What your podiatrists wear…


For running/walking: I alternate between the On Running Cloudflyer and Mizuno Wave Inspire

For gym / Crossfit: Nike Metcon


For indoor gym: Brooks Adrenaline GTS

For trail walking: On Cloudventure

Book an Appointment at Our Canberra Clinic for Shoe Advice from a Podiatrist

Our podiatrists are here to ensure those in Canberra have access to quality services that can help individuals get the treatment they deserve. Easily book an appointment at our clinic online or give us a call on 02 6198 4818.

Ready to make a Podiatry Appointment?

We are here to help! Booking online is the most convenient way to lock in the practitioner & time you want.