Fitness Shoes vs Regular Athletic Shoes: What's the Difference?

Fitness shoes are a new type of shoe that are supposed to aid in toning muscles, burning calories and even relieving back and joint pain. However, how do they really compare to a regular athletic shoe?

The Advantages of Fitness Shoes

Fitness shoes are usually made with an uneven sole that drops the heel lower than the front of the foot while walking. This creates a rocking motion that puts the walker off balance and forces the leg, back and stomach muscles to compensate by working harder to keep a balance. Fitness shoes can also activate muscles which wouldn’t ordinarily be used in walking. All this extra muscle use helps to tone and strengthen the muscles, as well as increase calorie use, thus promoting weight loss. Stronger muscles can also help alleviate joint pain, and working the core muscles can help with back pain. Some types of fitness shoes will also correct posture, which also helps to reduce back pain.

The Disadvantages of Fitness Shoes

Fitness shoes can generally only be used for walking, as they are difficult to run in. They should be used only on a relatively flat surface, as they might be difficult to balance on uneven surfaces, particularly at first. They stretch the Achilles tendon by dropping the heel. This could be dangerous and painful for women who wear high heels a lot, as they tend to have shorter Achilles tendons. Fitness shoes can put more stress on muscles and joints and so might not be suitable for everyone, particularly those who have had joint injuries.

Fitness shoes can also be expensive, although their average prices are coming down. While there is a relatively wide range of styles, fitness shoes generally all have a distinctive, chunky sole that some might not find attractive. Fitness shoes also generally do not cater to individual foot problem types.

The Advantages of Regular Athletic Shoes

Regular athletic shoes can be bought for any sporting activity, including walking, running, tennis, etc. Even when the shoe is made to provide specific support for a particular activity, it can still be used for other activities. When bought from a specialist store, athletic shoes can also be chosen to provide aid for a particular problem, like shin splints, or flat feet. Athletic shoes come in a wide range of styles and prices.

The Disadvantages of Athletic Shoes

Athletic shoes have recently been shown to change the gait of runners, leaving them more prone to injury (compared with running barefoot). These shoes tend to stabilize the foot more than is natural for humans, whereas the fitness shoes are intended to mimic a natural, uneven surface. Athletic shoes generally are made to reduce the amount of work muscles must do when walking, which can make them less effective at toning muscle.

Fitness shoes are specialized footwear, that can generally only be used for walking and are less versatile than ordinary athletic shoes, however, they do offer improved health benefits. Either type of shoe can be a significant investment and should be chosen carefully depending on your intended exercise regime.


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