You may have noticed a slight shift in my approach to training over the past year because although I still love training to be a badass, I’m also working on actually taking care of every part of my body (inside and out) – not just focusing on building a booty or having abs that pop.
I’ve also been taking more notice of my form during exercise, rather than just smashing it out like I used to, and there have been a few things I’ve seen a physio about because ultimately I wouldn’t want those things to get worse over time.
Something I noticed a few months ago is that my feet tend to overpronate when I run or do heavy squats, and I didn’t want this causing any long term damage to my feet, ankles, knees or any other body part. I’m also aware that in general most of us tend to take it for granted that our feet will just do the job they’re supposed to do without giving us any hassle. We don’t really look after them.
Now I don’t know about you, but I’d definitely prefer to prevent any potential issues, rather than end up trying to fix them when it’s already too late! So when the lovely people at Vionic got in touch with me and asked if I’d like to review their training shoes with built in support for overpronation, I jumped at the chance!
They’re shoes which have actually been made to help with the exact concern I was considering getting help with. Perfect!
Vionic have designed their shoes with unique foot motion technology, which I won’t pretend to understand, but it basically supports your foot while training – not allowing it to roll in. I tried out the Flex Sierra training shoe.
“It’s crucial to wear proper fitting training shoes when working out to avoid sore feet and crippling pain.
Vionic Flex Sierra active shoes combine innovative technical features including a dual-density out sole with a specially engineered knit upper for added breathability. Each training shoe offers maximum comfort and support, plus are specifically designed for walking and running. Every pair features unique foot motion technology (FMT) which aligns the feet to the correct position, helping to reduce aches and improve posture.
Vionic active footwear features Advanced Motion System (AMS) technology, combining our podiatrist-designed orthotic with a flexible, cushioned outsole and a lightweight, breathable upper.”
So what do I think of the training shoes?
These definitely live up to their promise of keeping the arch of your foot supported. Usually my feet try to roll in when I squat, but they didn’t budge at all wearing these. I used to love squatting barefoot back when I first started weight lifting, but I made the decision to keep my trainers on when I first noticed the rolling happening because that kind of pressure on my ankles definitely didn’t look safe! The great thing with these trainers is that (because they’re so light) it almost feels like I am squatting barefoot again, so you get the support from the shoes but you also get to feel like you’re not restricted due to the airy toe box. Basically a great mix of both!
They are also really comfortable while walking and doing any other weight lifting sessions I’ve done, but the reason I’m particularly focusing on the squatting for this post because it was the exercise where I most noticed my overpronation before.
Here’s a quick video example of the trainers keeping my feet and ankles positioned exactly where they should be while squatting:
When I first tried these on I couldn’t believe how soft the material was on top of the toe area! I could completely wriggle my toes – they had plenty of room to move, which is totally unlike any other trainers I’ve worn.
I usually like my trainers to be solid around the toe area as I always figured that if they feel like they’re tucked in then the trainers should therefore be more supportive. BUT these shoes are super light and soft with a very spacious toe box and yet somehow they feel more supportive than others.
I thought I would hate this new feeling of my feet not being kind of strapped in, but I actually love having that space and it helps to keep my feet from getting sweaty – apologies if that’s too much info but it’s a trainers review so sweat was bound to be mentioned at some point!
These are really lightweight and the upper is purely made from an engineered knit so they’re very thin and breathable. So far while working out wearing them, my feet have never felt hot and sticky (again, sorry if that’s TMI).
Because my toes have so much room to move in these I almost forget I’m wearing them, but I’m not going to lie – at first it does feel pretty strange having the support under your foot arch because it’s something new. But Vionic do advise to only wear the shoes for a few hours to begin with until your foot gets used to it, and after a while it does feel much more comfortable. Stepping into shoes without that support now feels kind of weird.
In the past I have found walking for long periods of time in unsupportive shoes quite painful (because of my overpronation), but these definitely helped with that. In my personal opinion, I wasn’t keen on them while running because I prefer more cushioning under the toe area (probably because I’m used to bulkier trainers). But that’s definitely a matter of personal taste because I’m not saying they were uncomfortable while running – just not quite cushioned enough for my ‘princess and the pea’ fussy feet. 😉
Although I tend to stick to the brands I know, these would definitely have caught my eye in a shop because the design of the knitted fabric looks great! Various people have asked me where I got them from so I’m clearly not the only person who thinks they look good!
The knitted fabric design complements the shape of the shoe perfectly and I really like the fact they have a knitted upper because it’s something a little different to the usual styles.
I particularly like how the black trainers could easily be worn as an every day shoe because they don’t have any giant logos or bright flashes of colour, and they have a very stylish smart casual kind of look.
At £85 they’re around the same sort of price I would expect to pay for a major brand, so considering they have that extra support inside I think it’s a fair price.
I am a major bargain hunter though so tend to buy my trainers during sales, so rarely pay full price for some. So for me, £85 is quite expensive, but having tried them out I would definitely have to say they are worth the money.
Another great thing is that Vionic are so confident in their products that they give you 30 days to wear-test them and then you can get a refund if you don’t like them! That kind of confidence shows the belief they have in their products!
Would I change anything?
On their website Vionic state that these shoes are to be cleaned by wiping with a damp cloth and air dried under indirect sunlight, which is great if you’re just wearing them as gym shoes and you’re not likely to get them muddy.
However, I’m a big fan of just throwing my trainers in the washing machine as I occasionally train in fields (that can obviously be muddy) or on the beach (and having sandy trainers is right up there with having sand in your bikini bottoms). So I like being able to easily clean my shoes.
So, for me, being able to machine wash them would make them even better, but as I’ve realised how awesome these are for supporting my feet while doing heavy lifting and walking, I’ll be keeping them for those things, which are thankfully less likely to involve getting them mega dirty anyway.
These trainers must be good when I actually had to pick on the washing instructions just to be able to find something ‘wrong’ with them!
The Vionic Flex Sierra training shoes are a very lightweight shoe perfect for anyone who wants support from their footwear but doesn’t like the idea of heavy and cumbersome insoles. I personally think they’re a great shoe for gym training and walking as they support your natural alignment, preventing overpronation that puts extra pressure on the ankle.
They clearly helped to stop my feet from overpronating (as you can see in the squat video), so the technology used when creating them obviously works. I would definitely recommend them.
Wearing supportive shoes is obviously a great step towards looking after your feet, but Vionic have also kindly provided me with some feet exercises to share with you guys.
Courtesy of acclaimed podiatrist, Trevor Prior (who is part of the creation of innovative orthotics behind Vionic), these exercises will help to minimise the risk of injury during exercise, so you can work your body to its full potential:
For this exercise, you’ll need a resistance band. Firstly, extend your legs out straight whilst sitting on the floor. Take a resistance band and fasten it to a secure point, then place the other part of the band below your toes. Flex your foot upwards and hold for 5 seconds to create tension, then relax.
This is a great way to improve circulation, plus it has the added benefit of stretching your calf muscles.
Whilst in a seated position, place your foot over your opposite knee. Grab your toes and pull them back until you begin to feel a moderate stretch. Hold for 10-15 seconds.
This will relieve any tension you have in your toes and leave them feeling relaxed and rested.
Firstly, stand with your feet slightly apart. Rise up onto your toes by slowly lifting your heels off the ground. Hold this position for 15 seconds.
This exercise will help to strengthen and stretch both your toes and calf muscles.
Increase blood flow
It’s important to exercise all areas of your foot, including your arch which can often be ignored. Place a tennis ball under the arch of your foot and roll it around for approximately 30 seconds on each foot.
This exercise promotes blood flow and helps to stretch out the muscles in your foot.
I’ve been adding these exercises to my weekly routine just at home a few times a week, and although I’m not going to feed you some line about how they’ve completely changed my life, I’m confident that (because they’re provided by a podiatrist) they will be helping to strengthen the muscles in my feet.
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I’ve been getting issues with shin splints, especially since running more and having to push myself in training for a half marathon! I went to a specific running shop that was recommended, they fully tested my gait and feet and recommended a few different trainers – I ended up buying some expensive ones, but they’ve already made such a difference! Alice xxx
It’s amazing the difference footwear can make to your gait! That running shop sounds brilliant, and it’s fab that you’ve already noticed a difference. They clearly selected the right shoes for you. What marathon are you training for?xxx
The Plymouth Half in April! My god I am so not a runner! It’s also proved tricky training currently as it’s dark by the time I get home and I don’t have street lights around me at home! So I’m doing other fitness during the week and trying to get in 2 runs each weekend instead. I literally don’t know how I’m going to do 13.1 miles!! eeeek! xxx
Hey, sorry I didn’t see this comment sooner. OMG, that’s a full on run! Good on you for going for it. Yeah, running outside is so much more difficult in rural areas in the winter. It’s great that you’re keeping up your training in other ways during the week too though. You’ll be fab! You’ve still got plenty of time and hopefully the nights will be lighter soon and then you’ll be able to get fully into the training. Oooh, I’m excited for you!!xxx