I Need Some New Shoes… Feet 101
“High Tech Shoes = Low Tech Feet” Ido Portal
Almost two decades ago, the fitness industry initiated a trend in barefoot training that ultimately led to mass production of barefoot or minimalist-style shoes.
Perpetuated by various research studies and writings (most of which supported the potential benefits), this step in a right direction was quickly met with disaster. Athletes, runners, and everyday gym-goers began developing minor to severe injuries.
Enter the Maximalist Trend
Instead of simply returning to normal shoes, these same companies who previously advocated minimalist footwear began creating and marketing “maximalist shoes” with several inches of cushion.
“Big Shoes” the opposite direction
Rather than promoting natural foot activation, these maximalist shoes (along with most other forms of footwear) provide enough foot support to allow a majority of foot and ankle muscles to shut down and go into a state of semi-dormancy and inactivity.
The Real Issue
In reality, the problem had nothing to do with the footwear or barefoot ideology but instead had everything to do with improper application and physical preparedness of the people wearing these shoes.
The minimalist or barefoot shoe trend is one of the few things the fitness industry has done right in the past decade.
If you’re unable to perform a majority of your activities, including strength training, walking, jogging, sprinting, agility drills, and even plyometrics in either barefoot or the most minimalist shoes, your feet and ankles just aren’t functioning the way they were meant to.
The feet, ankles, and toes need to be trained like any other body part. In fact, you could argue they require even greater emphasis considering most individuals wear shoes that limit, constrict, and bind their feet into unnatural positions, ultimately promoting dysfunction of the lower extremity.
The Best Shock Absorbers Money Can’t Buy
Skeletal muscles not only produce force, they also act as a means for absorbing force, essentially acting as shock absorbers. When skeletal muscles aren’t activating properly, much of this stress is transferred to tendons, ligaments, joints, and surrounding connective tissue.
The feet are no different. With over 100 various muscles, the feet and ankles encompass 15-20% of all the muscles in the body.
In reality, the feet and ankles are meant to withstand incredibly high forces and should provide more in terms of shock absorption than perhaps any other body part.
Unfortunately, humans begin to gradually lose this ability once we start wearing shoes. Over time, the feet, ankles, and toes become inhibited. Gradually, the force-absorbing responsibilities of the feet are re-assigned to the latest in trendy footwear technology.
Besides minimizing the ability to withstand intense ground reactive forces, the body gradually begins sending fewer and fewer signals to the feet, leading to distortions in proprioception and loss of innervation all the way up the kinetic chain.
Ultimately, this produces foot and ankle dysfunction that leads to dysfunctional movement patterns throughout the entire body, head to toe, or in this case, toe to head.
Don’t go too extreme with minimalist shoes too soon or you’ll set yourself up for injuries. Gradually progress into it. Eventually you should be able to perform most of your physical activity in minimalist or barefoot conditions.
Finding the Right Shoe for You…
A proper minimalist shoe will include five important characteristics:
1. Wide toe box to allow the toes to move/splay
2. Flexible sole allowing the foot to bend naturally
3. Zero drop (heel is same height as the forefoot)
4. Minimal to no cushion, forcing the feet to provide most shock absorption
5. Little to no ankle support in the heel or upper of the shoe
For my personal recommendation’s check out an old post I wrote about this very topic... It’s Got To Be the Shoes…
The O-Board Says…
Every 8min for 3 Rounds…
MAX Wall Balls
*Rest 2 min between rounds*
*Score Total Wall Balls”
Post by Chris; @cmoknows