Fitness Footwear for All Types of Feet

Depending on the unique features of your feet, you need to carefully select the shoes you choose to exercise in.There are many actions you can take to promote your foot health. Exercising, eating well, and giving up smoking (or not starting in the first place!) are all instrumental to keeping your feet healthy and safe. Another major component is your choice in footwear. Not all feet are the same and, accordingly, there is a huge variance in fitness footwear types. We want you to be able to pick the right shoes for your foot type.

The Right Fit

Before we begin looking at fitness footwear for various foot structures, please understand that how a shoe fits is the primary concern. Price, function, and even style can all be important considerations as well, but shoes that do not fit properly lead to a host of potential foot and ankle issues.

Regarding fit, the heel should be firmly cradled, toes should have room to wiggle, and there should be some space in the front (about a thumb’s width) and back (about 1/8 of an inch) of the shoe. When laced tightly, the foot should be secured so it doesn’t slide back or forth within the shoe, which could lead to corns, calluses, and blisters.

High Arches

When arches are high, a condition known as cavus foot, it is important to find shoes that are flexible and well-cushioned. These features can help with the excessive force on the heel and forefoot areas with this foot structure. A key concept that shoe designers keep in mind for individuals with high arches is to engineer their products to have exceptional shock dispersion.


Low arches, on the other hand, require a different type of shoe. This particular arch style results in overpronation, so footwear that offers motion-control or stability features are ideal. Often, shoes geared towards those with flatfeet have medial posts (to reduce pronation) and firm midsoles. It is advisable to avoid ones that offer little support, as this encourages and allows excessive pronation.

Neutral Arches

Those who are fortunate to have neutral arches—not too high, not too low—are best served with flexible models that have moderately soft midsoles. These shoes are often single-density and have zero to moderate torsion rigidity (which refers to how easy it is to twist the shoe when the heel is held in one hand and the front in the other).


High heels, including stylish stilettos and pumps, take a rap for causing bunions. This may not actually be accurate, but it is safe to say that such footwear can aggravate an existing bunion and likely cause the condition to worsen. Whether a patient is choosing shoes for fitness, the office, or casual events, he or she needs to have a model that features a wide toe box and heels that are around 2 inches or less.

Finding Your Shoes

Now that you can pick the right shoes for foot types, it is helpful to understand the importance of when and how to shop for shoes. To start, make sure you plan on picking out your new footwear in the late afternoon or evening. Feet swell during the course of the day, so the size that fits you first thing in the morning can become tight and uncomfortable later on.

Besides knowing when to shop, it can be helpful to know where to go. If you are picking up shoes for physical activity or athletic participation, go to a specialty store. Runners are best served going to a shoe store that caters to runners. The associates at those businesses are more knowledgeable and will be able to answer questions you may have.

Foot Care and Shoe Advice in Austin, TX

All of the available choices for footwear can be quite overwhelming. This guide will hopefully be helpful in picking out the right pairs, but you may have specific questions or require further assistance. When this is the case, don’t hesitate to contact Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists. Your foot health is our primary concern and the shoes you wear play a major role in it, so give us a call at (512) 328-8900—or use our online form to request an appointment—and we will be glad to help.
Dr. Craig H. Thomajan, DPM, FACFAS, FAENS
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Founder and Managing Partner of Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists