November 22, 2010 in Blog, training
There are a lot of shoe companies poking there noses around CrossFit right now. It is no secret that I am a supporter of Inov-8 shoes. What I want to to address is what shoes are good for what. Contrary to popular belief shoes are not the primary culprit for our issues. Although since the shoe “revolution” (1970′s was when the shoe companies decided to develop a large heel) we have seen more and more issues with people running (83% of all runners are injured each year, 2005 ACSM). I personally run into folks who have “flat feet” more and more (although not as much in the last few years) or issues with their feet and cannot wear certain types of shoes due to the nature of their feet. First and foremost, you are responsible for you. So if you decided to buy a pair of Nike Shox or Vibram Five Fingers (Gawd have mercy on your sole for making either of those decisions… more on that later).
I contacted Inov-8 in 2008 because I felt they were the only running shoe company who really understood running shoes. After a few emails, and some talking, we invited some of the Inov-8 crew to a Cert and the rest is history. I believe 100% that Inov-8 is still the only running shoe company who “gets it”. While they all are trying to run a business (I get it, trust me) most have failed miserably at sticking to the true nature of what our feet do.
Move forward to the other half of what we do… CrossFit or Conditioning. I like most people who are going to read this post train most of the time in a gym and spend less time with sport specificity. In this case, running. I run maybe once or twice per week, and it is usually within a WOD (workout of the day). For the most part I am lifting something. It could be an olympic lift, powerlift, thrusters, push press, or whatever. The bottom line is it is going to require me to have a decent contact point with the ground so that I can either move a heavy load, jump, or run for a short distance.
Weightlifting shoes have a raised heel so that you can take dorsiflexion out of the game with squatting. It makes it easy for folks who have a limited range of dorsiflexion (tight calves) to squat deep. These are not ideal for anything other than weightlifting. In fact, they really are best suited for Olympic Weightlifting. You will not see Powerlifters using weightlifting shoes in most cases. I’ve yet to see any of the guys at SuperTraining Gym in Sacramento wear anything other than Converse All Stars or some form a Skateboarding shoes. Check!
For some it will come as no surprise that I am a supporter of the Skateboarding shoe. For others this will be an eye opener. I am particularly a fan of DC’s as the construction is really not met by anyone else. Like my old school (2005 issues I believe) adidas adipro’s I still have my original pair. They make dozens of different types and most work with what “WE” do. Let me explain… First, a zero differential is important as it still sends the signal that you are even. A zero differential simply means there is no difference from front to back. in a 3 differential there will be a 3mm difference from front to back. See pictures below to understand the difference.
You will notice that the Inov-8 although a great running shoe is not giving you a great flat surface to lift with. Where the DC shoe is completely flat from front to back. When running the ball of foot should strike first which will then allow the heel to kiss the ground. The same will apply for the DC except for anything over a mile the shoes is just to heavy right now to want to run any longer in. With that said, I am going to assign everyone who reads this and is willing to do some homework. I want you to either deadlift or back squat in your running shoes and immediately switch into a flat DC or similar Skateboarding shoe and feel the difference. more importantly, WATCH someone do this from behind. Kelly Starrett does this all the time and shows people the difference. What you should notice is someone wiggling around trying to find a good place to anchor themselves in a running shoe vs easily getting set with the flat shoe. There is a direct relationship with the arch of the foot and your glutes. You will notice folks who pronate a lot when they squat the pronation continues to occur. Along with the famous knees diving in medially. If you jam your knees out when you squat your glutes turn on and the pronation goes away… ***ding, ding, ding!***… Keep in mind turning your feet out like you are a ballerina is not optimal. In fact your foot should be fairly straight (maybe up to 35 degrees depending on how wide you can get) and knees will be out as wide as your glutes can get them.
The second part to the DC shoe is that it is a stiff lower that allows your foot to feel as though it is actually in contact with the ground. When you have something squishy it is only telling you to look for more options. Your foot is your receptor to the ground, if you dull this sensation or worse yet, hurt this you are taking away from your potential. These shoes are versatile enough for us to do just about anything we do in the gym. Here is a little video from a month or so ago on both shoes.
Skateboarding shoes vs Running shoes from bmack on Vimeo.
This brings me to the barefoot debate. I DO NOT STAND ALONE on this either. If you think running barefoot is going to solve your running issues or foot issues you are incorrect. I have video taped at least 100 people who chose to run barefoot or in vibrams and felt they did themselves a favor where in fact the video tape shows they either created more or made their form worse (#1 on that list is people start running with their hip flexors when they make this switch). I have even seen people heel strike barefoot or in the goofy little slippers. You need to reprogram your feet kids, and doing that is a process. There are several ways to do this and yes walking around or even running or jump roping barefoot can help (it will not solve) the issue. Scrunching up a pillow sheet with your toes, picking up objects with your feet, working the range of motion of the ankle and feet, stretching the calves and feet all play a large roll. The deal is you need to start re-wiring the foot and start using it the way it was designed. I have personally worked with several folks who had “flat feet” and we actually re-built the arch of the foot. It is a process but can be done if you are adamant about this stuff and your shoe choices.
One more note on barefoot running and I will end this post. This year at the Copper Canyon Ultramarathon we had two runners down there competing. This is the famous race with the Tarahumara Indians (Christopher McDougal wrote the book Born to Run about them. Great book!!!). The big talk of the race was the fact that the top 3 runners were all in shoes and all were Tarahumara Indians. It was rumored Caballo Blanco along with several others said McDougal may need to consider an updated version of the book. The fact is, you can run faster with shoes on, and you can lift more with shoes on. Its the choice in shoes that matters, and you need to do some homework before following what everyone “thinks” or everyone is doing. Bottom line is when you find yourself doing what everyone else is doing you better question yourself anyway.