Shoes are a topic I get a lot of questions about these days. Runners, Crossfitters, Rugby Players, Hockey Dads, & Soccer Moms: Everyone has questions.
First, there is no “End-all, Be-all” shoe.
Most Running shoes as they have been made are for cushioning and supporting the feet for a high number of feet strikes without much regard for force bio-feedback. Meaning that while you are wearing them, you not really concerned with micro-messages your foot is sending about the ground as the shoe will be cushioning most (not all) small details. Brian Mackenzie of Crossfit Endurance has written a wonderful article on shoes for runners. Check it out. He discusses shoes for long-distance running and the reasons he uses for his recommendations.
Now we come to the non-cushioned types.
Weightlifting Shoes are hard-soled with an elevated heel. Used by Olympic Lifting competitors, these shoes allow for more dorsi-flexion(toe back toward your nose) so you can catch those heavy cleans and snatches better and easier. They are also used with the heavy slow lifts: Squats, Presses, and Deadlifts.
Powerlifters tend to use flat shoes(no elevated heel) with no cushion. World record deadlifts are set in Chuck Taylor Converse Allstars.
Indoor soccer shoes are flat soled, have little cushioning, and are built for lateral stability. Squash (the racket sport, not the vegetable!) shoes are also built for stability with low cushion. Prince NFS Indoor II is my preferred Crossfitting shoe!
Skate shoes are also an option preferred by many included Brian Mackenzie. Same as the Indoor sport shoes: Flat-soled, low cushion. Notice a pattern…
Wow! That is a lot and we still have not mentioned Five Fingers! Leave them for your around-town shoes, not your everyday trainers. (See B-Mac’s shoe blog!)
Choosing what shoe to train in requires thought about how you are training. If you are working on heavy Cleans & Snatches, weightlifting shoes should part of you kit. Deadlifts, back squats and press are your strength exercises, a flat soled, non-cushioned shoe should be on your feet. For Crossfit, sprinting, box jumping and pullups do not require a large cushion, so something that can be an all-arounder is a good choice.
The running part of this conversation is very ably covered by Brian’s article, which I agree with whole-heartedly (READ IT!). Learning to run well is very important and it will help free you from lots of things, injuries, bad shoes, etc.
Does this mean all running shoes are bad? No! But what you need in a shoe for and why you are buying are very important factors. Running shoe companies are producing more “minimalist” shoes than ever before. Learning about why you should choose shoe and having the information to ask good questions are important to getting the “right” one. Now that you learned a little more about shoes. Go to your favorite running store and ask lots of questions. Keep asking until you hear solid answers about footwear for how you train.
In the end, here are my recommendations:
Crossfitter-One Shoe: Flat soled, minimal cushion training shoes (Indoor soccer shoes, Indoor court(squash) shoes, skate shoes).
Kettlebeller, Commercial Gym (YMAC, LTF): Flat soled, minimal cushion shoes.
Crossfitter-Several shoes: Weightlifting shoes, minimal running shoe, maybe a soccer or court shoe, too. (See the pattern!)
Runner- minimal strength work: Minimalist running shoes along with Lessons on Pose-Running Form!
Runner w/Crossfit or Other conditioning program: Minimalist running shoes along with Lessons on Pose-Running Form!.
Field Sport Athlete: Cleats(sport-specific) and Flat soled, minimal cushion training shoes (Indoor soccer shoes, Indoor court(squash) shoes, skate shoes)
Wear the Five Fingers around the house, to the park, a trail run, or anywhere you want to make a statement. Just not in the gym.
Post your shoe choices to comments. I would love to hear them!