The Best Type Of Shoes To Wear (Or Not Wear) During At-Home Workouts
Working out from home has its perks. Getting to the "gym" (aka the yoga mat in your living room) two minutes before the class starts, scheduling and rescheduling of your own accord, and, of course, going barefoot without shame.
As freeing as it is to go barefoot while exercising at home, are there ever circumstances where shoes are necessary? To make sure we're properly supporting our feet, mbg reached out to a few personal trainers. Here's what they recommend when it comes to at-home workout footwear.
Exercises that benefit from shoes.
Family medicine physician and certified personal trainer Michele Reed, D.O., recommends wearing athletic training shoes to provide support and/or protection for the feet during exercises that involve jumping or other high-impact movements. "If you will be doing any type of cross-directional movements, these will give you the best fit," she says. At-home exercises that benefit from sneakers include:
- HIIT workouts
- Cardio circuits
- Weight training (sometimes)
In most cases, it's totally fine to weight train without shoes, because it doesn't involve high-impact pounding. That said, "You always run the risk of dropping a weight on your feet, which doesn't feel good," personal trainer Todd McCullough, ACE-CPT, E-RYT, tells mbg. If you're not comfortable lifting weights or you're lifting a heavy weight, it may be a good idea to wear close-toed shoes.
Other reasons you may want shoes.
Aside from the type of workout, certain injuries or sensitive spots may call for wearing supportive shoes. For example, injuries like turf toe (a sprain in the main joint of the big toe), twisted ankles, or knee injuries, may warrant sneakers. "A shoe will help lessen the pain and allow you to still crush a workout," McCullough says.
Many at-home workouts incorporate plyometrics, or jump training, to get the heart rate up. While that targeted effect is beneficial, the impact can be harmful to people with tendinitis in the knee—but wearing shoes can help, he explains.
Exercises that are fine barefoot.
Most workouts actually benefit from the barefoot approach. In fact, Reed says, "When going barefoot, it helps to strengthen the muscles of the feet" since the force of your movement isn't absorbed by your sneakers. Strengthening the feet then increases the strength of the core, hips, and legs, as the body becomes more aware of its changing positions and activates surrounding muscles to help stabilize the body, she explains. At-home exercises that work without sneakers include:
Why does it matter?
Improperly supporting your feet can lead to injuries, like strains, sprains, blisters, tendonitis, and plantar fasciitis to name a few, Reed says. If you've developed any of those injuries from neglecting your feet in the past, consider buying a supportive new pair of sneakers and using them when appropriate. These juicy foot and ankle stretches may help, too.
Abby Moore is an editorial operations manager at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine. She has covered topics ranging from regenerative agriculture to celebrity entrepreneurship. Moore worked on the copywriting and marketing team at Siete Family Foods before moving to New York.