First and foremost, let's discuss the reasons behind wearing recovery shoes. When we engage in physical activity and remain in the same pair of shoes for an extended period, our foot and leg muscles adhere to a consistent pattern of strain.
It becomes crucial to grant these muscles and joints some respite. This can be achieved by transitioning into a pair of recovery shoes and engaging in an "active recovery" routine. This involves working the muscle groups opposite to those previously stressed while also alleviating strain from the tendons and joints that were recently under pressure.
So, what exactly constitutes a recovery shoe?
Interestingly enough, it can range from an alternative type of athletic footwear to slider shoes.
The objective is to select a style that is the complete opposite of what your foot had been in. To elaborate, consider the following examples: if you've spent the day in flip flops, it might be beneficial to switch to comfortable tennis shoes; if you've been wearing soccer cleats, opting for cushioned sliders could be advantageous.
What features should you seek in recovery shoes?
The answer is quite simple: look for qualities that stand in stark contrast to your usual footwear!
Here are the key attributes to seek in recovery shoes:
Cushioning: If you find yourself on hard surfaces frequently or subject your joints to considerable impact, prioritize cushioning. The specific degree of cushioning is largely a matter of personal preference.
Slider vs. Flip Flop: The debate between these two options is ongoing. Here's my professional and personal take: I lean towards sliders. Wearing flip flops necessitates the engagement of intrinsic toe muscles and a slight alteration in your walking pattern to prevent the shoes from slipping off. After exerting yourself in a sporting event, the last thing your feet need is the added effort of keeping footwear on.
Rocker Bottom vs. Flat Bottom Shoes: The choice here hinges on your requirements. If you've been wearing cushiony rocker bottom shoes all day, consider switching to flat bottom shoes. Conversely, if you've been in relatively flat athletic shoes (like cleats or court shoes), a rocker bottom design could be beneficial. The rocker configuration encourages a wider range of joint motion, allowing other muscles to relax and stretch.
Sole Construction: Some soles are designed with small protrusions that stimulate nerves in the foot—a fascinating feature. However, avoid these shoes if your feet are sweaty or waterlogged, as they could lead to skin irritation. Furthermore, if your feet are already sore from extended wear, excessive stimulation might exacerbate the discomfort.
Experimentation is key. I'm not particularly fond of flip flop recovery shoes, as they require renewed foot engagement to keep them in place. Personally, I adore my heavily cushioned Hoka Recovery Shoes, mainly due to my heightened cushioning preference. I'd wear them everywhere if I could, even to work.
Some of my friends swear by their Oofos. While I tried a pair and found them to possess less cushioning but superior arch support compared to my Hokas.
Keep in mind that shoes evolve with use (even recovery shoes require a breaking-in period), and trends change from year to year, model to model, and brand to brand. The best approach is to test out a few options. Once you find the right fit, you'll know—the comfort will be undeniable.
Interested in learning more about recovery shoe wear? Want to work with a Stark Performance Physical Therapist or Athletic Trainer to assess your performance and recovery techniques?
Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 850-912-9203