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Best Shoes for Rowing Machine: A Comprehensive Guide

When it comes to rowing, having the right equipment is essential for optimal performance and comfort. While many people focus on finding the perfect rowing machine, it’s equally important to pay attention to the shoes you wear during your workouts. The right pair of shoes can provide the necessary support, stability, and grip needed to maximize your rowing experience.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of shoes for rowing machines, exploring the various factors to consider when choosing the best footwear. Whether you are an experienced rower or a beginner looking to enhance your workout, this article will provide you with valuable insights and recommendations to help you find the perfect pair of shoes for your rowing sessions.

The Importance of Proper Footwear

Rowing is a full-body workout that engages multiple muscle groups, including your legs, core, and upper body. To perform at your best and avoid injuries, it’s crucial to have proper footwear that supports and stabilizes your feet. The right shoes can help distribute the force evenly, reduce the risk of strain or sprain, and enhance your rowing technique.

Impact on Rowing Performance

Wearing the wrong shoes while rowing can negatively impact your performance. Ill-fitting or unsupportive shoes can cause discomfort or pain, leading to distractions and decreased focus. On the other hand, the right rowing shoes can boost your performance by providing stability, allowing you to generate more power with each stroke, and maximizing your efficiency on the machine.

Foot Stability and Comfort

Rowing requires a stable base to generate power and maintain proper form. Shoes designed specifically for rowing provide the necessary stability, preventing your feet from sliding around or losing contact with the footplates. The right shoes will also offer cushioning and support to keep your feet comfortable during long rowing sessions.

Reducing the Risk of Injuries

Improper footwear can increase the risk of injuries while rowing. Without adequate support, your feet are more prone to strains, sprains, and even stress fractures. Rowing shoes with features like arch support, heel stability, and proper traction can minimize the risk of these injuries by providing the necessary stability and shock absorption.

Key Features to Look for in Rowing Shoes

Choosing the right pair of shoes for your rowing machine involves considering several important features. By understanding these key features, you can make an educated choice that aligns with your specific needs and preferences.

Foot Support and Stability

One of the primary features to look for in rowing shoes is proper foot support and stability. Look for shoes with a well-cushioned insole, arch support, and a secure fit to provide stability and prevent your feet from rolling or sliding during rowing movements. Shoes with adjustable straps or lacing systems can offer a customizable fit, ensuring optimal support for your feet.

Breathability and Moisture-Wicking

Rowing can be an intense and sweaty workout, so it’s important to choose shoes that allow for proper ventilation and moisture management. Look for shoes made from breathable materials, such as mesh or synthetic fabrics, which allow air to circulate and keep your feet dry. Additionally, shoes with moisture-wicking properties can help prevent discomfort and blisters caused by excessive sweat.

Sole Flexibility

The flexibility of the shoe’s sole plays a crucial role in rowing. A flexible sole allows your feet to move naturally and maintain proper form throughout the rowing stroke. Look for shoes with a sole that offers a good balance between flexibility and support. Too much rigidity can hinder your foot movement, while excessive flexibility may compromise stability.

Traction and Grip

During rowing, you need shoes that provide excellent traction and grip to prevent slipping and ensure a solid connection with the footplates. Look for shoes with a rubber or non-slip outsole that offers sufficient grip on various surfaces. Shoes with a patterned or textured sole can enhance traction, helping you maintain stability and generate power with each stroke.

Different Types of Rowing Shoes

Rowing shoes come in various types, each catering to different rowing styles and preferences. Understanding the different types can help you choose the one that best suits your needs.

Strapped Rowing Shoes

Strapped rowing shoes are a popular choice among rowers. These shoes feature adjustable straps that secure your feet to the footplates, providing stability and preventing slippage. Strapped shoes offer a snug fit, allowing for efficient transfer of power from your legs to the rowing machine. They are suitable for both indoor and outdoor rowing and are commonly used in competitive rowing settings.

Slip-On Rowing Shoes

Slip-on rowing shoes, also known as booties, are another option to consider. These shoes are designed to be worn over your regular athletic shoes, providing an extra layer of protection and traction. Slip-on shoes are lightweight, flexible, and easy to put on and take off. They are particularly useful if you prefer using your own athletic shoes or if you have specific footwear requirements due to foot conditions or orthotics.

Indoor Rowing Shoes

If you primarily row indoors on a rowing machine, there are shoes specifically designed for indoor rowing. These shoes often have a minimalist design, focusing on providing a lightweight and flexible feel. They may feature a thin sole to enhance the connection with the footplates and promote better foot articulation during the rowing stroke. Indoor rowing shoes are ideal for those who prioritize a natural feel and freedom of movement.

Top Brands and Models for Rowing Shoes

With a plethora of brands and models available in the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the right rowing shoes. Here are some top brands and models known for their quality, durability, and performance:

Nike Metcon 6

The Nike Metcon 6 is a versatile training shoe that offers excellent stability and support, making it suitable for rowing. It features a grippy outsole, cushioned insole, and a secure fit, providing the necessary elements for a comfortable and efficient rowing session.

Concept2 Rowing Shoes

Concept2, a well-known brand in the rowing community, offers its own line of rowing shoes. These shoes are designed specifically for use with Concept2 rowing machines, ensuring a perfect fit and compatibility. They provide excellent stability and traction, allowing you to focus on your rowing technique without worrying about slipping or discomfort.

Adidas Adipower Weightlifting Shoes

While primarily designed for weightlifting, the Adidas Adipower weightlifting shoes are also a popular choice among rowers. These shoes feature a stable heel and a secure fit, providing the necessary stability for rowing movements. The flat sole offers good traction, and the overall construction ensures durability even during intense workouts.

New Balance Minimus 10v1

The New Balance Minimus 10v1 is a minimalist shoe that offers a lightweight and flexible feel, making it suitable for indoor rowing. It provides a close-to-the-ground sensation while still offering enough cushioning and support for comfort. The outsole has a grippy pattern that enhances traction on various surfaces.

Finding the Right Fit

Ensuring the perfect fit is crucial to optimize your rowing experience. Here are some valuable tips and insights on finding the right size, width, and overall fit for your rowing shoes:

Measure Your Feet

Start by measuring your feet to determine the correct shoe size. Use a measuring tape or a foot measuring device and compare the measurements to the brand’s size chart. Keep in mind that sizes may vary between different brands, so it’s important to refer to the specific brand’s sizing guidelines.

Consider Shoe Width

In addition to length, consider the width of your feet when selecting rowing shoes. Some brands offer different width options to accommodate various foot shapes. If you have wider or narrower feet, opting for shoes with different width options can ensure a more comfortable fit.

Try Before Buying

If possible, try on the shoes before making a purchase. Visit a specialized athletic shoe store where experts can help you find the perfect fit. Take your time to walk around and simulate rowing movements to ensure the shoes provide the necessary support and comfort.

Account for Socks

When trying on rowing shoes, wear the type of socks you would typically wear during your rowing sessions. This ensures that the shoes fit properly with the added bulk of the socks. It’s important to have enough room in the toe box without feeling cramped or too loose.

Consider Adjustability

Some rowing shoes come with adjustable features, such as straps or lacing systems, allowing you to customize the fit. These adjustable elements can provide a snugger fit and better stability. Experiment with different adjustments to find the most comfortable and secure fit for your feet.

Maintenance and Care for Rowing Shoes

To ensure the longevity of your rowing shoes, proper maintenance and care are essential. Here are some steps required to clean,store, and maintain your shoes to keep them in optimal condition:


After each rowing session, it’s important to clean your shoes to remove dirt, sweat, and odor. Use a soft brush or cloth to gently scrub the exterior of the shoes, paying attention to any areas with visible dirt or stains. For tougher stains, you can use a mild detergent mixed with water. Avoid submerging the shoes in water or using harsh chemicals, as these can damage the materials.


Once cleaned, allow your rowing shoes to air dry naturally. Avoid placing them near direct heat sources, as excessive heat can warp or degrade the materials. Stuff the shoes with newspaper or paper towels to absorb moisture and help them retain their shape. Ensure they are completely dry before storing them to prevent the growth of mold or mildew.


Proper storage is essential to maintain the shape and integrity of your rowing shoes. Store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperature fluctuations. Avoid placing heavy objects on top of the shoes, as this can deform them. If possible, use a shoe rack or box to keep them organized and protected.

Replacing Insoles

Over time, the insoles of your rowing shoes may wear out or lose their cushioning properties. It’s important to regularly check the condition of the insoles and replace them if necessary. Many manufacturers offer replacement insoles that are specifically designed for their shoes. This can help maintain the comfort and support provided by the shoes.

Inspecting for Damage

Regularly inspect your rowing shoes for any signs of damage, such as worn outsoles or loose stitching. If you notice any issues, it’s important to address them promptly. Small repairs, such as reattaching loose threads or applying shoe glue to minor sole separations, can extend the lifespan of your shoes. However, if the damage is significant or affects the functionality of the shoes, it may be time to consider replacing them.

Alternatives to Rowing Shoes

While rowing shoes are specifically designed for rowing, some individuals may prefer alternatives or have certain limitations that prevent them from using traditional rowing footwear. Here are some alternative options to consider:

Cross-Training Shoes

Cross-training shoes are a versatile option that can be suitable for rowing. These shoes are designed for various athletic activities, providing stability, support, and cushioning. While not specifically made for rowing, they can still offer adequate performance and comfort during rowing sessions. Look for cross-training shoes with good traction and flexibility to ensure a smooth rowing experience.

Minimalist Footwear

Minimalist footwear, such as minimalist running shoes or barefoot-style shoes, is another alternative for rowing. These shoes offer a lightweight and flexible feel, allowing for a more natural foot movement during rowing. However, it’s important to note that minimalist footwear may not provide the same level of stability and support as dedicated rowing shoes. Consider your individual needs and preferences before opting for minimalist footwear.

Orthotics and Inserts

If you have specific foot conditions or require additional support, orthotics or shoe inserts can be added to your existing athletic shoes. Orthotics are custom-made inserts that provide tailored support and alignment for your feet. Over-the-counter inserts can also offer some degree of support and cushioning. Consult with a podiatrist or footwear specialist to determine the best orthotics or inserts for your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions about Rowing Shoes

Here are some commonly asked questions related to rowing shoes:

Are rowing shoes necessary for indoor rowing?

While rowing shoes are not mandatory for indoor rowing, they can significantly enhance your performance and comfort. Rowing shoes provide stability, support, and traction, allowing you to generate more power and maintain proper form throughout your workouts. If you are serious about rowing, investing in a pair of rowing shoes is recommended.

Can I wear regular athletic shoes for rowing?

Regular athletic shoes can be worn for rowing, particularly if you are a beginner or engaging in casual rowing sessions. However, keep in mind that regular athletic shoes may not offer the same level of stability and support as rowing-specific footwear. As you progress and become more dedicated to rowing, investing in specialized rowing shoes can greatly enhance your experience.

Can I wear socks with rowing shoes?

Yes, you can wear socks with rowing shoes. In fact, wearing moisture-wicking socks can help keep your feet dry and prevent blisters. Choose socks that are comfortable, breathable, and moisture-wicking to enhance your overall rowing experience.

How often should rowing shoes be replaced?

The lifespan of rowing shoes depends on various factors, including frequency of use, intensity of workouts, and the quality of the shoes. On average, rowing shoes can last anywhere from 6 months to a couple of years. It’s important to regularly inspect your shoes for signs of wear and tear and replace them when the support, cushioning, or overall functionality is compromised.

Tips for Improving Performance with Rowing Shoes

To optimize your performance on the rowing machine with the help of rowing shoes, consider the following tips:

Maintain Proper Form

Rowing shoes can enhance your stability and help you maintain proper form throughout your rowing stroke. Focus on keeping your feet securely planted on the footplates and engaging your legs, core, and upper body in a coordinated manner. The stability provided by the shoes will allow you to generate more power and row with efficiency.

Pay Attention to Foot Placement

With rowing shoes, you can ensure consistent foot placement on the footplates. Aim to position your feet in the same spot with each stroke, allowing for a smooth and efficient rowing motion. This will help you develop a consistent technique and maximize your power output.

Utilize the Traction

The traction provided by rowing shoes is especially useful when doing high-intensity rowing sessions or during sprints. Push off firmly with your feet, utilizing the grip of the shoes on the footplates to generate maximum power. This will help you achieve faster split times and improve your overall performance.

Focus on Foot Flexibility

Rowing shoes with flexible soles allow for better foot articulation during the rowing stroke. Take advantage of this flexibility by actively flexing and extending your feet throughout the stroke. This will help you maintain a smooth and efficient movement pattern, resulting in improved performance and reduced strain on your feet.

Experiment with Adjustments

If your rowing shoes have adjustable features, such as straps or laces, don’t be afraid to experiment with different adjustments to find the most comfortable and secure fit for your feet. Fine-tuning the fit can make a noticeable difference in your rowing experience and performance.

Final Thoughts and Recommendations

Investing in a quality pair of rowing shoes is a step towards optimizing your performance, comfort, and overall rowing experience. With the right pair of shoes, you can take your rowing workouts to new heights and achieve your fitness goals with confidence. Consider the factors discussed in this guide, such as foot support, breathability, sole flexibility, and traction, when choosing the best shoes for your rowing machine. Remember, finding the perfect fit and maintaining your shoes properly are key factors in maximizing their lifespan and performance. Happy rowing!

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