Choosing the best shoes for training on the elliptical machine

Three months ago, I began training on the elliptical machine and it’s been great! I get my cardio workout and burn calories at the same time without the stress on my knees and hips. However, I began feeling discomfort after my first few sessions.

I sought the help of my GP, who told me there was nothing wrong with my feet. He suggested that I look into the kind of shoes I wear for my workouts, which got me started on the research for the best shoes to use for elliptical training. I learned that while there are no custom-built shoes for the elliptical machine, there are two suitable options: running shoes and cross trainers.

Read on…


View this selection of recommended shoes on Amazon UK:




Using Running Shoes

Going on the elliptical machine is pretty much like running, but without the strain on your joints. Therefore, most people think that running shoes are perfect for elliptical training. This is somehow true as running shoes are basically built for heel-to-toe motion and are designed to thrust you forward – a movement used commonly on the elliptical machine.

However, many elliptical machines can also be pedaled backward, providing a better workout for the glutes, the hamstrings, and the calves. That said, not all running shoes will automatically give you with the proper protection against the physical impact of working on the elliptical machine.

Although running shoes generally have a higher heel drop than other athletic shoes, some running shoes are too rigid for elliptical training, while some others have poorly-cushioned toe boxes, which can strain the joints.

If you want to use your running shoes for training on the elliptical machine, make sure that the sole provides not just enough cushioning and flexibility, but also plenty of stability and arch support.


Using Cross Trainers

Cross trainers, as the name implies, are a kind of athletic shoes worn for different sports activities. Unlike running shoes that are engineered for forward movement, cross trainers are designed for multi-directional movement – making them perfect for activities that require a wide range of movements such as weight training, aerobics, and kick-boxing.

Cross trainers are built with wider and flatter outsoles, providing flexibility, support and stability especially for lateral or side-to-side movements that you use when training on the elliptical machine. This is the reason why many people who work out on the elliptical machine recommend using cross trainers.

Your weight shifts from one foot to another as you stride on the machine, so you need ample lateral support to keep your feet stable on the pedals. Most cross trainers are also lightweight and come with roomy toe boxes, which allow your toes to flex for every down stroke on the pedal.


Is the elliptical causing pain and discomfort in your feet?

Working out on the elliptical is awesome, but it’s not without its aches and pains. Here are some causes of such pain and what you can do about it:

  • You are wearing the wrong shoes. Most foot pain is caused by shoes that fit poorly. If your shoes are too tight, you could suffer muscle soreness and joint pain. On the other hand, shoes that are too loose could lead your foot to slide toward the toe box as you do elliptical rotations.

To avoid foot pain, ensure that your shoes fit properly and that they are right for your foot type (are you a supinator, a neutral or a pronator?) It’s best to visit a podiatrist to measure and examine your feet, but you can also seek the advice of knowledgeable salespersons from a local running store or ask a member of a runners’ group for recommendations.

  • Your posture is off. Proper posture and feet positioning are essential on the elliptical machine. Improper posture can put all your weight on just one area of the foot, leading to pain.

Make sure that your weight is distributed evenly on all the areas of your foot. Stand comfortably with your head up, your back straight, and your abdominal muscles tight.

  • The elliptical incline is too much for you. The incline session might be more challenging, but the pressure you exert against the machine can also cause pain in the arch and the heel of your foot. 

To challenge yourself, go for the flat run instead and alternate between fast and slow. Your feet will thank you for not putting them through the painful ordeal that is the incline.

  • You should stop training on the elliptical machine. If the activity is causing you much pain, it would be helpful to stop and see a podiatrist. Seeing a foot specialist is important, especially if the pain comes suddenly or lingers for a long time.

Have you experienced numb toes and “pins and needles” while using the elliptical?

Although less worrying than actual foot pain, numbness and the pins and needles can also affect the quality of your elliptical training. Most likely, numbness is caused by pressure on the nerves of your feet as you stride on the elliptical machine. Here are some tips to get rid of this annoying feeling:

  • Wear the right shoes (and socks) and tie the laces a little looser than you normally would when you walk or run.
  • If possible, use elliptical machines that have bicycle-like pedals that rotate. These are better than pedals that have a fixed position.
  • Vary your elliptical exercise. Alternate between forward and backward pedaling directions and use varying inclines if possible.
  • Split your elliptical sessions. Long workouts can lead to too much pressure on your feet. Take a break before having another go on the elliptical, or do a different kind of exercise.
  • See a doctor. Frequent numbness of the feet could indicate a serious problem.






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