Today we have a special treat (the first of many) : a guest post by Coach Dags! Let's see how he does, the first time out.
At a lot of the Sunday CF Endurance classes, we get to talking about CrossFit footwear and it occurred to me that while I often have these conversations one-on-one, it’s probably worth a full-on blog post for all to read. A lot of CrossFit is either constructing up complex, functional movements (cleans, deadlifts, etc.) from the isolated movements you used to do globo-gym style (machine tricep extension, pec dec, etc.) or distilling away superfluous machine assistance to force you to engage your stabilizing musculature that assists muscle responsiveness, coordination, agility, etc. (like all the etc.’s I’ve used so far…. there’s more where that came from). This plays in with shoes across a broad spectrum, so I’ll steal egregiously from Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run and give you the short history: for the majority of human evolution (as far back, at least, as we can be described anthropologically as “human”), we have run barefoot.
I mean seriously, how often do you really look at a man's shoes?
Although the notion of walking or running around barefoot would seem somewhat primitive in contemporary civilization, this is more the result of the manner by which we have constructed modern society (asphalt, concrete, ETC.) than a reflection of our essential capacity to run fluidly without the assistance of gel sole, arch support, motion stability control, advanced cushioning… you get my drift. Even as recent as the 1970s, when running really emerged as an active hobby in the public arena, running shoes came in one “model:” racing flats.
Roger Bannnister, killing it for the first 4-minute mile, totally sans gel insoles
Since that time, undoubtedly, more people have taken up running, which of course means more first time runners or former athletes getting back into the swing of things, which, at the outset, led to a rise in injuries. You know what the crazy thing is, though? Advancements in shoe technology have actually been correlated with a RISE in running-related injuries over the years, meaning that while you buy the shoe to protect your foot, that protection actually changes the way your foot contacts the ground, changing the way the muscles and bones in your legs and torso absorb the impact, more often than not to peoples’ long-term physical detriment (shin splints, tendinitis, Achilles problems, etc.). Don’t take my word for it, go straight to B-Mac:
But this doesn’t matter just for running. If you’ve spent most of your adult life walking around and standing in running shoes with a massive cushioned heel wedge and all that fancy technology, then while a lot of your calf muscles may be short and strong, when your legs impact the ground in a receiving position (think: jumping rope, hopping off a box or pull-up bar), your calf muscles may not be sufficiently long and strong (I want to make a Sir Mix-A-Lot joke here soooo badly) to keep from straining. Obviously, don’t go switching out your Asics Kayanos or Nike Air Pegasuses (Pegasi?) [editor’s note: shoe nerd] for Vibrams immediately after reading this post, but you’ll want to start thinking about transitioning your shoes to increasingly minimalist footwear overtime so it’s you wearing the shoe and not the other way around. Your coaches and a number of longstanding CFNHers will have a number of footwear recommendations and stories about their shoewear transition, so feel free to use us as a reference. In the meantime, here’s some minimalist shoe porn to whet your appetite.
More to come in the coming weeks!