Athletic Footwear Guide

A Guide to different types of footwear


With so many athletic footwear options to choose from, we know the task of purchasing new shoes for activity can indeed seem quite daunting! Incorrect footwear can cause problems, so knowing the basics is a good idea. Footwear technology and knowledge is constantly evolving.  Latest research tells us that if you try on a few pairs of shoes, the most comfortable one you try will usually be the best one for you, so listen to your feet as well as advice from your Podiatrist!


Running and Walking shoes:

Specifically designed for forward motion, these types of shoes generally have an 8-10mm ‘drop’ (difference between heel height and forefoot height). These shoes generally sit in two categories - ‘supportive/guidance’ or ‘neutral’ styles - and the best shoe for you will depend on your running style, and what your foot does when it is contact with the ground. Supportive/guidance runners consist of a midsole of dual density EVA (type of plastic) that is hard on the medial aspect of the shoe, promoting stability. Neutral shoes are characterised by a symmetrical midsole throughout the shoe.

Racing Flats:

These shoes are generally lighter as there is less midsole/thickness to the shoe. They are best worn for faster interval running sessions and race day. They  have a shorter lifespan compared to a traditional runner, so need to be replaced more regularly.


Traditional football or soccer boots are flat, lightweight, and generally have no midsole. In saying this, it may be important for some individuals to have a boot with an increased heel pitch for injury prevention.

Netball/Cross Training:

These shoes designed for multi-directional movement. They tend to be more rigid, with increased outsole grip for increased stability on the court. Cross trainers are a great all-rounder shoe for those doing a bit of everything.

Trail Runners:

Think runner shell, but with the added bonus of increased tread and Gore-Tex (waterproof) options! The increased tread on trail shoes gives more grip on uneven terrain surfaces.

So, when is a shoe too old?

Anywhere for 600 – 800km. This is entirely variable on the type of the shoe, the terrain and the type of activity the shoe is used for. Generally, outsole/grip begin to wear away first and compression of the midsole occurs.

Other footwear

Let’s not forget everyday footwear is just as important as activity footwear. Great everyday footwear has a firm heel counter, isn’t too flat, and flexes across the ball of the foot.


So there you have it, athletic footwear in a nutshell.