Even though elliptical training is a low impact workout, you still need to wear supportive shoes with cushioning under the balls of the feet. Shoes that are both flexible and provide protection against shocks are ideal. While no company manufactures shoes specifically made for elliptical training, you will still be able to find suitable options. Work with a fit specialist at a dedicated shoe store to help you determine your stride length, foot width and support needs.
Cross-training shoes are a popular shoe choice for elliptical workouts because of their lightness and flexibility, as well as their sole and side-to-side support for a wide range of activities. Two well-reviewed choices are the Nike Free 5.0 and the New Balance WX760. When deciding whether or not to buy cross-training shoes, consider how often you engage in other forms of exercise, such as weightlifting or aerobics.
According to the Mayo Clinic, elliptical training exerts the same force on joints as walking on a treadmill. A walking shoe with proper cushioning around the sole can provide enough support for elliptical workouts. Two well-reviewed choices are the Adidas Echo Plus and the Reebok DMX Mega WalkR. For those needing extra support, additional insoles or orthopedic inserts can help maximize foot comfort. Note that unlike cross-training shoes, walking shoes do not provide support for a wide range of activities.
Running vs Elliptical Training
Elliptical training may stress joints less than running. Therefore, you may be tempted to choose running shoes for elliptical workouts with the assumption that running shoes will properly protect you from physical impact. However, running shoes are often too stiff for elliptical training, which requires a more flexible sole. Conversely, a minimalist running shoe may not provide enough cushioning in the toe box to prevent joint strain. When buying new shoes or assessing older pairs, pay attention to fit.
Shoes may provide less support and cushioning over time or with heavy usage. Older shoes may become too loose because of stretching or loss of cushioning material, allowing the feet to slide around while you are exercising. New shoes that are too small or shoes that are laced too tightly may cut off blood circulation to the toes. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, tight shoes may also cause bunions, corns, ingrown toenails and other foot problems. To prevent buying shoes that are too small, get fitted later in the day. The American Council on Exercise notes a person’s shoe size may increase by half a size during the day.
Jessie Erwin is a registered dietitian based in Illinois. She holds a Bachelor of Science in dietetics from the University of Connecticut. Erwin writes about food and health for various nutrition and fitness blogs.