Exercise is at the heart of any healthy lifestyle, and there is no better feeling than indulging in a physical activity you love. For some, however, high-impact sports such as running, Zumba and tennis take too much of a toll on the joints to be sustainable long-term.
The answer to this dilemma is activities such as low-impact dance, and the Nia Technique is an excellent example. Combining moves and philosophy from martial arts with the artistic joys of creating free movement, Nia and similar fusion exercise programmes are gaining keen fans, but finding the right footwear is crucial to keeping up the enjoyment and can be trickier than just buying a new pair of runners. Bare feet are often a recommended option, but if you know that you need the support offered by shoes, then you should keep a few things in mind when looking for the right pair.
In contrast to the shock absorption needed for shoes handling the bouncing movements of high-impact exercise, a key element of low-impact dance and sports is flexibility. Low-impact dance often borrows a few moves from ballet, so while you might not need pointe shoes, you do need shoes that will bend and stretch with your movements.
Merrell have a great choice of flexible yet supportive shoes in their Enlighten range. The Merrell Enlighten Awake comes in a gorgeous silver and grey palette, while the Vex comes in a punchy red. In fact, Merrell offers a wide choice of similar styles and shades under the Enlighten heading. All of these shoes, as well as being flexible, offer good arch support and fantastic cushioning at the heel to keep you feeling light on your feet.
If you have flat feet or are prone to plantar fasciitis, arch support is crucial all of your shoes. Make sure that whatever shoes you choose offer plenty of support to the centre of the foot, while flexing at the toe joints. Consider a pair of the Merrells listed above, or buy lace-up shoes if you want a tighter fit. Skechers offer some great runner-style shoes that still offer flexibility, arch support and heel cushioning. Try their Ez Flex or Flex Appeal styles for shoes that provide stability and support while still offering plenty of bend.
Many Nia practitioners recommend performing in thin-soled shoes or bare feet, as the technique in partly based on yoga and martial arts. If you want or need to wear shoes, you could try Merrell’s Glimmer range of barefoot-mimicking ballet flats with a completely flat but grippy sole. If you need heel cushioning and arch support, then Arcopedico offers a good choice of supportive shoes with cushioned heels, dual arch supports and uppers that mould to fit your feet perfectly. Try the L1 style for a ballet flat with extra height or the L45 for a Mary-Jane style if you prefer the security and support of a strap.
Your shoes form the stable foundation of your workout routine, so it’s worth investing in a pair that makes you feel great from the soles of your feet to the top of your head.