Those who engage in a variety of training activities understand the importance of shoes that fit properly. However, to fully grasp the elements that make a shoe fit like a glove is an entirely different matter. In fact, this is largely an individual thing, though the fit does depend on a few universally accepted factors.
Since your feet play a crucial role, you need to understand them quite well. You should also know that some models are not exactly suitable for some cross training routines. The proper fit has to do with podiatric science, the way you feel, and some careful selection.
Read on to find out how cross training shoes should fit and for some tips and tricks that can help you find the perfect trainers for your feet.
Some people may overlook the fact that athletic sneakers shouldn’t be too big or too small. If you go with even a half a size too small, there is a risk of injuring your toes or feet. Half a size too big and you are one step closer to blisters which might impede your exercise routine.
Don’t fall for the sales line about how they’ll break in, but rather make sure you have enough wiggle room from the get-go. In general, you need to be able to wiggle your toes easily while feeling ample support from the fabric on the inside. Believe it or not, the time of the day when you shop also plays a role – if you go to a brick-and-mortar store.
Namely, your feet can increase in size by up to half a shoe size due to swelling. This usually happens toward the end of the day so it’s best to go shopping as late as possible.
Understanding Your Feet
Besides the apparent variety in size, human feet also have a somewhat different morphology and alignment. It’s vital to get this aspect right as shoes that don’t fit your arch type, for example, may cause pain or limited athletic performance.
There are three basic foot shapes/types and you can easily determine yours by walking across a brown paper bag on wet feet. The footprint that shows almost no curve on the inside signals a flatfooted person. It means the feet tend to pronate excessively, causing increased shoe wear inside the forefoot and outside of the heel. If this is your case, go for cross training shoes with some type of motion control to get the best fit.
On the other hand, if the footprint marks only a section of the forefoot and thin connection with the heel, this indicates high-arched feet. In other words, the feet don’t pronate enough, which causes more wear on the outside of the heel and little toe. People with this type of feet should go with soft midsoles and some extra cushioning.
Lastly, the footprint that has a uniform curve on the inside points to normally arched feet, which allows shoes to wear uniformly. Your best bet would then be the so-called stability cross trainers. These have an optimal combination of support and cushion.
Note: Most cross training shoes are good for 500 miles of intensive exercising or about six months. In general, if you put on a pair of sneakers four times a week for running or other exercises, it might be a good idea to get a new pair every four months.
Get the Right Shoes
To determine the fit, check that the space between the big toe and the shoe tip is about ⅜ to ½” or about a thumb’s width.
As for the heel and the upper, they need to feel snug and comfortably tight (but not too tight). The shoe mustn’t slip as you walk or feel oddly discomforting in certain places. There are some tests that you can perform on the spot to check the fit.
Walk around in the shoes and jog in place to determine the comfort and rigidity. It might look odd, but it doesn’t hurt to mimic some of the motions you’d do in the gym to see how the shoes handle them. If possible, try walking on different surfaces – tiles, carpet, etc.
Proper lacing is another key element that influences the way cross trainers fit. When laced up, the lace holes should be about an inch apart, or it’ll be difficult to adjust the laces. In addition, each shoe needs to be able to bend easily without any apparent rubbing or tightness.
It is also a good idea to try on the shoes with your workout socks. Also, don’t hesitate to bring an old pair of trainers. They’ll make it easier for the shoe professional to judge your gait.
Tip: Stand on tiptoes with the new shoes on. If the heel comes out, choose a different model.
Grasp the Bells and Whistles
According to specifications, some cross training shoes may seem more befitting of a NASA space mission than a casual jog in the park. However, truth be told, all the fancy and high-tech characteristics do improve the way the shoes fit and feel.
For example, some popular cross training shoes have soles that run from heel to toe. Other manufacturers go for gel inserts or foam padding. If you suffer from heel pain, the above features should provide some extra comfort.
On the other hand, more cushioning usually translates to less traction, so weigh that against your exercise needs.
Other Things to Consider
Even if you’re loyal to one brand, you might want to try out different brands to see how it goes. You don’t have to go for the expensive celebrity-endorsed models, but trying out at least a few options should help. You are looking for snug fit, comfort, and overall rigidity.
Don’t expect your shoes to multitask too much. A pair of quality cross training shoes is perfect for the gym, light jogging, and cardio. But they’re not going to cut it for trail running.
Hopefully, you now have a more complete understanding of how cross trainers should fit. If you are buying online, make sure to only buy from a store that has a liberal return policy, so you wouldn’t have to worry if you need to send them back for refund or exchange.