Originally developed in the 1970s for Olympic-level athletes, tabata started as a four-minute mega workout that required you to exercise at maximum intensity for 20-second segments. Today’s tabata workouts are occasionally longer and typically involve more than one exercise -- but the basic premise is the same. And although the mini-sweat session lasts only minutes, choosing improper footwear might make it seem like an eternity.
The exercises you choose to do during your tabata workout will help guide your choice of shoes. If you’ll be spending your 20-second sessions sprinting, running shoes will be your best choice. The shock absorption of running shoes will also be beneficial if you’re jumping rope or doing plyometric exercises. But if you’re doing squats, lunges, pushups, jumping jacks or other low-impact exercises, tennis shoes or aerobic shoes might be a better choice. Tennis shoes provide more ankle stability, while aerobic shoes provide a bit more cushioning for your soles.
If you’re not quite sure what exercises you’re planning to squeeze into your tabata workout, cross-training shoes might be your best bet. According to the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society, cross trainers combine features from various types of athletic shoes to provide a well-rounded type of footwear. They should provide decent shock absorption and sole cushioning, flexibility, adequate ankle stability and lateral support.
While your exercise choice will help guide your shoe selection, it shouldn’t be your only consideration. A professional foot evaluation can also make a big difference when you’re buying footwear. An evaluation of your stance and stride indicates whether your feet pronate, supinate or remain neutral when you’re moving. If you have weak or low arches that tend to collapse, you’ll want shoes with extra arch stability. If your feet are flat, you’ll probably feel most comfortable in a shoe with a stiffer sole and more arch and heel stability. If your arches are high, a cushioned sole will likely feel best.
Although the workouts are brief, tabata’s high-intensity intervals are still quite challenging. Talk to your doctor before you begin if you have any health or medical conditions or have had previous injuries or conditions affecting your feet, ankles or legs. Your doctor might recommend specific types of footwear to keep you comfortable and prevent future injuries.
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