by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN
They say there’s a sucker born every minute, but I’d say it’s more like every second. The health and fitness industry is full of new businesses popping up left and right that want to sell you “the next big thing” to cure your ailments and improve your health. When it comes to new trends, there has been much talk about recovery shoes.
To be totally transparent, I literally had to look up what they were after hearing people talk about them online and rave that they help them recover faster and that their feet, ankles, and even knees feel better after wearing recovery shoes. The more I dug into the trend, the more I was glad that I actually care about people and aren’t out to make a quick buck.
While I’ve found recovery shoes to be a hot, flaming turd, I want to get the information out there as to what recovery shoes are, what they’re “supposed” to do, and other (better) means of recovering properly from a long day on your feet or intense training sessions.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition. I voice my opinion in this article, and if you swear by recovery shoes, good for you. You should also speak with your doctor before engaging in any exercise program and ask for their medical and professional opinion on whether or not recovery shoes are for you.
What are Recovery Shoes?
Recovery shoes, also known as post-workout or post-exercise shoes, are designed to provide optimal comfort and support for your feet and legs after intense physical activity or prolonged standing. These shoes are specifically created to aid in the recovery process by promoting better circulation, reducing muscle fatigue, and providing cushioning and relaxation for tired feet.
The main features of recovery shoes include:
- Cushioning: Recovery shoes often have thick and soft midsoles or insoles that offer ample cushioning to absorb impact and reduce stress on your feet and joints.
- Arch Support: They typically have built-in arch support to help alleviate arch strain and provide stability to the foot.
- Breathability: Good recovery shoes are made with breathable materials to enhance airflow and prevent excessive moisture, reducing the risk of bacterial or fungal infections.
- Lightweight and Flexible: Recovery shoes are usually lightweight and flexible, allowing for natural foot movement and providing a comfortable fit.
- Shock Absorption: They are designed to absorb shock and minimize the impact on your feet and lower extremities, reducing the risk of injury and enhancing recovery.
- Easy to Slip On/Off: Recovery shoes often have slip-on or adjustable closure systems, making them easy to put on and take off without adding extra stress to your feet.
Recovery shoes are commonly used by athletes and individuals who engage in intense physical activities, such as running, jogging, or training, as a part of their post-workout routine.
These shoes aim to enhance recovery by promoting proper blood flow, reducing inflammation, and comforting tired muscles and feet.
Don’t Waste Your Money on Recovery Shoes
Now that we got the so-called “benefits” out of the way, let’s actually get down to the nitty-gritty. The more I researched recovery shoes, the more I found that they’re no different than any other shoe out there, assuming you’re buying the right shoe for your foot type.
Sure, there are shoes specifically made to help “massage” your feet, like the sandals or slides that have the nubs and rounded ends that are supposed to massage the sole of your foot, but I had a pair of these (Adidas brand) back when I was a teenager for after soccer, and all they did was hurt my feet. In fact, I think I wore them less than a handful of times because they were so uncomfortable. But that was my experience.
Today, they seem to be making a comeback of sorts, and people are flocking out to buy recovery shoes as if they work miracles (which, from my research, many people feel they are a scam and waste).
While recovery shoes may benefit some individuals (I can’t rule everyone out), they are not necessary. In fact, there are plenty of other methods you can use to help improve recovery and ease sore feet, ankles, and legs.
Here are some general tips and methods for proper recovery that don’t involve the use of recovery shoes and lighting your money on fire:
1. Rest and Sleep
Getting adequate rest and sleep is essential for recovery. Allow your body time to repair and rejuvenate itself. The great thing about sleep is that you’re off your feet and legs so that they can recover properly. Strive for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night.
2. Proper Nutrition
Consuming a balanced diet that includes a mix of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats can help replenish energy stores and support muscle recovery. Ensure you’re getting enough nutrients and staying hydrated.
3. Stretching and Foam Rolling
If sore, consider engaging in gentle stretching exercises and use a foam roller to release tension and tightness in muscles. This can help improve flexibility and reduce muscle soreness. You can also use something like a lacrosse ball to roll the sole of your foot against while the ball is sitting on the floor.
4. Ice and Heat Therapy
Being sore is not fun, and it can actually cause you to be less productive when training and decrease your overall performance. What you can do to help remedy this is to apply ice packs to reduce inflammation and swelling immediately after exercise. Heat therapy, such as warm baths or heating pads, can help relax muscles and alleviate stiffness.
5. Compression Garments
Compression socks or sleeves can enhance blood circulation, reduce muscle vibration, and aid in recovery by minimizing swelling and soreness. You can wear them daily if needed or simply put them on after workouts, long days, or while lounging around the house.
6. Proper Hydration
Drink more water? Yup. Many people neglect hydration when it comes to helping the body recover following long days on your feet or after grueling training sessions. Be sure to drink enough water to maintain proper hydration levels, as it is crucial for muscle function and recovery.
7. Listen to Your Body
It seems like common sense, yet most don’t listen to their body. I’m guilty of it. I push through the pain and soreness and tell myself to stop being a pansy. But the truth is, you need to pay attention to any signs of excessive fatigue, pain, or discomfort. If you feel overly exhausted or experience persistent pain, it’s important to reach out to your doctor and see what they would recommend or if you need to come in to get checked out.
One thing you need to remember is that recovery is a very personalized process. What works for me may not work for you, and vice versa. Finding a recovery routine that suits your needs and preferences is crucial. If you want to try recovery shoes, go for it. But, in my opinion, there are much better options for getting better results than dropping your hard-earned money on recovery shoes (just my two cents).