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Stop Wearing Running Shoes

By Tanner | In Training | on September 22, 2010

Don’t wear running shoes?  YES.  Stop wearing them.  Especially in the gym, but for running too.  Yes, I am saying do not even run in running shoes.
The disadvantages to running shoes are so bad, I’ve often considered banning them inside CrossFit Wilmington.  That day may still be coming.
Running shoes create instability, primarily laterally, in the ankles.  Sports that involve running as an integral component don’t use running shoes due to that fact.  Football, Rugby, and Soccer all require quite a bit of running but none utilize running shoes. Running is the only activity that is so linear that running shoes are usable.  Worse yet, they’re causing (or at least not preventing, as per which study you read) injury to the runners that trust in their manufacturers’ claims.
Simply put, there are no running shoes you can buy that provide support, cushion, stabilize, prevent over or under pronating, or any of the things they are “designed” and manufactured to do.  They all cause injury by allowing you to strike your heel with every step sending energy back up your legs and destroying your feet, ankles, knees, IT bands, and hips.  Or maybe you bought Newtons, the shoes that force you to forefoot run.  They may be a good step in the right direction (pardon the pun), however, any piece of equipment that forces you to do something unnatural or unnaturally can lead to injury.  There’s no shortcut to running with proper technique… but this post is about shoes, not running technique.
Still not a believer of me, eh?  Well… read this stuff and see what you think:
http://sweatscience.com/running-shoes-injuries-and-the-great-nike-conspiracy/
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/21/phys-ed-do-certain-types-of-sneakers-prevent-injuries/
http://www.quickswood.com/my_weblog/2006/08/athletic_footwe.html
http://www.sportsscientists.com/2008/03/running-shoes-solution-or-problem.html
http://www.posetech.com/training/archives/000438.html

Just think about it. It all makes sense, really.  It’s like the Paleo Diet.  Paleo works so well and is healthy for us because it’s based on nature.  In the last few centuries, humans have adopted the idea that we can improve on nature’s way.  A bit arrogant I think.
It’s no different in running shoes.  And we love our marketing.  Nike says it’s new and you’ll run better in them…  we believe.  Then we buy them… and retail therapy makes it all better.  Come on, stop being taken advantage of.
In the gym, running shoes’ inherit instabilities cause us more problems.  Their instability causes lack of balance.  Now, if you believe exercising while standing on a stability ball while wearing Reebok EasyTone (the idea is more ridiculous than that commercial) is going to give you the edge over nature…  then you’re rocking someinvincible ignorance and I’ll not be able to reach you anyway. So here are my suggestions for shoes.  Flats.  Cross country flats.  Nothing Nike, ever.  And don’t bother getting on the video captraptions that will “scientifically” decipher what shoe type is right for you.  Just get a pair of shoes that is as close to being bare foot as possible, i.e., FLAT!  But be careful, many flats are not.  Many of shoes these days being sold are marketed as barefoot or flat are not either.  A good example are the Nike Free shoes.  Some models have 16mm change from heel to toe.  That’s about 3/4 of an inch and far from flat.
For general exercise, CrossFit and, running of any distance, these are hands down the the best I’ve ever worn:  Inov8 F-Lite

 230.  I’ve had them for over three months and they are still like new and I’ve done many wods and run quite a bit in them.  I also wore them through two training courses with my other job and they’ve maintained their out of box quality.
Inov8 makes almost the same shoe, but in lighter versions (230 is  its weight, in grams), the 190, and the 195.  But I wouldn’t go any heavier.  After the 230s their shoes begin looking more like lightweight hikers.
But let’s not forget the Chucks.  Converse All Stars are economical and can be used for pretty much anything.

So what about Vibram “Five Fingers”?  First off, they go on your feet.  How can they have fingers?  Second, they look ridiculous!
HOWEVER…  they work!  If you we’re trying to achieve natural foot movement and function, these are as close as you can get.
If the funny look isn’t doing it for you, Feelmax makes a great alternative.  They’re basically Five Fingers but without the fingers.  They look funny too, but not as funny.

But they’re most beneficial in the weightlifting.  This is when I get “but they have high heels”.  Yes, they do.  Again, I don’t run in them.   The heel allows for more depth in the Olympic style squats.
I like the Do-Win Pendlay shoe from Muscle Driver USA.  I’ll only ever do leather weightlifting shoes becasue they last.  I do most of the CrossFit workouts (those without running) in mine… yes, even the box jumps.  At $110 a pair, they are expensive.  So here’s a more affordable version: Wei-Rui from Max Barbell  I’ve not tried them, so I hesitate to put my name behind them, but they were recommended.  Either way, they’re better than running shoes.

The bottom line…  health and wellness are our goals.  If changing something as simple as your shoes can decrease your chance of injury, why wouldn’t you?  The bonus is increased performance.  So instead of “treating” yourself to the next cheat meal or two, do yourself a real treat and get the proper shoes.
-t.

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