When your favorite fitness activity is high-impact aerobics, the choice of shoe is critical to prevent injury and make the most of your workout. The shoe has to match the activity to protect the body from damage and maximize the benefits of a workout.
Forget about just heading out to the mall and buying the latest fad shoe — here are four critical factors that must be considered when choosing the best shoe for high-impact aerobics.
Think first about your arches. You typically believe each foot has only one, but that’s not true. The human foot has three distinct arches: two longitudinal arches (side and middle) and one anterior (rear) transverse arch. The tarsal and metatarsal bones of the foot form them, and they’re supported by the foot ligaments and tendons.
The arch shape allows your feet to perform like a spring that bears the weight of the body and absorbs shock during movement. The foot arches give feet the flexibility needed for pain-free walking and running.
Arches can be high, low or nonexistent (flat feet) and the best shoe for high-impact aerobics depends on the type of arch someone has. High arches are poor shock absorbers, so a shoe with generous padding can make high-impact moves much less painful.
High-impact aerobics on flat feet can be frustrating without the right shoes. According to an article in the April 2017 Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research over 25 percent of the population has flat feet — and if the arches are lower than optimum, stability can be an issue.
People with flat feet often over pronate — their foot rolls in too much — making them susceptible to issues like shin splints and plantar fasciitis. The best shoe for flat feet has a hard midsole to prevent rolling in and flattening of the foot.
Protecting the feet during high-impact aerobics is critical. The ankles and heels require stable support to avoid injury during quick changes of position. Depending on the high-impact aerobics you do, movements can include:
- Side shuffles,
- Jumping jacks
- Cutting between cones
- Ladder work
According to research published in the May 2008 Medicine and Science in Sports Medicine, wearing a shoe that provides heel and ankle stability should significantly minimize the risk of injuries like ankle sprains or knee strain. Although research in the February 2014 Journal of Foot an Ankle Research concludes that high-top sneakers may not be the best choice for ankle stability.
Motion control is a serious consideration for people with lower arches or flat feet. The tendency to overpronate can cause all kinds of damage — and a shoe with lots of motion control will prevent the foot from rolling inward excessively.
Typically, shoes with motion control will have a very firm midsole and provide sufficient support to discourage over-pronation. A motion control shoe will always have a firm medial post (under the arch) and lateral post (outside ball of the foot) to keep the foot securely in place from toes to heel during high-impact movement.
The extra support can make the shoe heavier and a little stiff; but, the foot won’t slide around inside the shoe, so it's more likely to prevent injury. The support and structure also keep the feet correctly aligned, preventing an asymmetrical gait that can create torque in the ankles, knees and hips, possibly causing damage.
Wearing the appropriate type of exercise shoe is crucial to maximizing your workout performance and being comfortable. It will also lengthen the life of the shoes. Workout shoes are made sport-specific to provide features that are crucial to the activity being practiced. For example; a running shoe has extra cushioning for long-distance workouts, but tennis shoes offer better traction.
Although high-impact aerobics isn’t one specific activity, some shoes fit the bill. Many cross-training specific shoes can provide the right combination of arch support, motion control and ankle stability to avoid injury and perform high-impact aerobics well.
- Muscle and Science in Sports and Exercise: The influence of arch supports on knee torques relevant to knee osteoarthritis
- Journal of Foot and Ankle Research: The effect of high-top and low-top shoes on ankle inversion kinematics and muscle activation in landing on a tilted surface
- Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research: Flat Foot in a Random Population and its Impact on Quality of Life and Functionality