Aerobic exercise is an exceedingly healthy and popular activity, with a participation of over 24 million people. Aerobic exercise offers a multitude of health benefits, including increased cardiopulmonary efficiency, strengthened heart and lungs, improved circulation, lowered cholesterol levels, and stress and anxiety reduction.
Aerobic exercise involves quick lateral movements, jumping, and leaping for extended periods of time, making proper foot care an integral factor in keeping the entire body fit and healthy. Common injuries from aerobics often involve the foot, ankle, and lower leg. Many do not realize that wearing incorrect shoes, performing on tough surfaces, and straining muscles by too vigorous a routine can lead to foot problems. Experts agree that hardwood floors (especially with padded mats) are best for your feet during aerobic exercise. It’s also best to stretch all the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the leg, ankle, foot, and toes in a warm-up before aerobics, and cool-down after aerobics.
If you’ve ever needed an excuse to expand your shoe collection, here it is! Proper shoes are essential to successful, injury-free aerobics. Old sneakers in your closet are not the proper shoes for aerobics and should be discarded. Major shoe companies today have designed special shoes for aerobics, which provide the necessary arch and side support. They also have soles that allow for the twisting and turning of an aerobics regimen. Be advised that running shoes lack the required lateral stability and lift the heel too high to support aerobic activity. They also often have an acute outside flare that may put the athlete at greater risk of injury from the side-by-side motion in aerobics.
Aerobic shoes should provide sufficient cushioning and shock absorption to compensate for pressure on the foot many times greater than found in walking. They must also have good medial-lateral stability. Impact forces from aerobics can reach up to six times the force of gravity, which is transmitted to each of the 26 bones in the foot.
Because of the many side-to-side motions, aerobic shoes need an arch design that will accommodate to these forces. Look for shoes with sufficiently thick upper leather or strap support to provide forefoot stability and prevent slippage of the foot and lateral shoe “breakup.” Make sure shoes have a toe box that is high enough to prevent irritation of your toes and nails.
Here are two other helpful tips: buy your aerobics shoes in the afternoon, as our feet tend to swell later in the day, and bring along the same socks you plan to wear during your aerobics.