For years in India we’ve worn canvas shoes whenever we’ve participated in any sort of sports activity. In fact, for us, canvas shoes were sports shoes.
But in the last few years, so many specialised sports shoes have become available that many of us are quite confused. You may know the kind of shoe you require when you play cricket, but what do you need for aerobics? Or weights? Or a walk? And does it matter if you wear running shoes for tennis or tennis shoes for rock climbing?
Yes it does, is the uncompromising answer from fitness gurus Namita Jain and Leena Mogre, director, Lina Mogre Fitness Academy.
“If you don’t have adequate foot support specific to the type of exercise you’re doing, you could hurt your ankles, knees, thighs and even your lower back,” says Jain.
“Think of sport-specific shoes as an investment,” adds Mogre. “Wouldn’t you rather spend on a good pair of shoes than on a doctor because of constant injuries?”
According to sport lifestyle company Puma, sport-specific shoes are necessary because your body weight falls on different parts of the foot depending on the activity. So there is need for different levels of cushioning in different activities.
The grip required on the ground also varies.
Here’s why shoes have become sport-specific.
Crosstrainers: Crosstrainers are lightweight and flexible general purpose shoes for people who are not in serious training for any particular sport or activity. “But if you move to a higher level of intensity in any activity, you need the correct shoes for that sport,” says Tushar Goculdas, director, marketing and sales, Adidas India.
Running shoes: Running shoes have cushioning for joint support, are flexible to allow for foot movement, and incorporate breathability, because typically, people run for 30-40 minutes at a time.
Golf shoes: When a golfer swings to hit the ball, the body weight is transferred from one part of the foot to another, according to sport lifestyle company Puma. This requires cushioning to protect the joints and grip for balance. So golf shoes come with cleats.
Basketball shoes: Because basketball players pivot on their heels, says Goculdas, heel design and cushioning is important. Also, because they jump, they require high-top shoes for ankle support.
Tennis shoes: There are two important movements in tennis, says Goculdas. Lateral movements – tennis players typically move sideways and shift from foot to foot; and the service stance – leaning forward on the toes of one foot. So the sides and fronts of tennis shoes must be strong and durable. Also, the grip differs depending on whether you’re playing on a clay or grass court.
Football shoes: Strikers require speed, so their shoes are the lightest weight possible – “Almost like a second skin,” says Goculdas. But mid-field players require power and control and that translates to a special treatment on the upper part of the shoe.
Adventure sports shoes: “Typically, they need to offer protection against the weather, and they must be durable because of rough conditions. Usually, they are ankle-high,” says Goculdas.