At least a handful of you probably got super excited about a SHOE blog!
Those of you who already have CrossFit specific shoes, likely multiple pairs, already understand what I am about to dive into!
This post is for those of you who are NOT certain why CF shoes are anything special, why they build them the way they do, etc.!
For all intents and purposes today, I will talk about regular Tennis Shoes or Running shoes vs CrossFit.
You can all envision them, thicker cushy heal that tapers down in the toe.
1) "Drop" - the difference in the height (thickness) of the heel compared to the height in the toe areas.
Tennis shoes have a larger drop. The idea originates from running = more cushion to absorb the impact when the foot strikes. We have learned that heel striking is quite hard on the joints. Check out our Pose Method video here to learn better running technique.
2) The stiffness of the sole.
Regular shoes, regardless of the drop, are unanimously softer support than CrossFit shoes. This makes a significant difference when supporting yourself plus an external object like a barbell.
Effect on the foot
Why do those two factors make such a large difference?
The theory is, a large amount of cushion plays a huge role in the amount of "work" your foot does. Not just in workouts or running, but even while walking.
The more cushion, the less the tendons and muscles in your foot does. This is NOT a good thing.
Over time, your foot gets weaker and weaker. It can lead to things like Plantar Fasciitis.
By removing the cushion, using the calf and natural arch of your foot like the "spring" it was built to be (when running properly), you can strengthen the area and eliminate foot issues, joint issues, even back issues.
CrossFit shoes are built with much less of a Drop angle, sometimes even being completely flat. They also use much stiffer sole, helping you plant more securely when moving and under load, as mentioned above.
A stiffer sole means better support when squatting. This means more control when changing directions during shuttle sprints. This means a more firm landing on box jumps.
The little things
On top of the support and stability things listed above, they have some very unique features.
Nearly all of them come with rope climb technology. Reebok reinforces the inner side of the shoe, where the rope would rub, with Kevlar!
Nike adds a hard plastic lip to the back of the shoes so they will slide up and down the wall easier for rope climbs.
Inov8 has BOA technology on their lifters. (BOA is a twisting dial that tightens the laces, no tying)
You should NOT switch immediately to CrossFit shoes.
Your body needs time to adapt to a different ankle angle.
Meaning, your calf, and ankle are accustom to being in one particular spot/angle. If you switch to a flat shoe, it's going to stretch the calf and achilles farther than normal.
Take some time in the gym to build up the leg strength (with any shoes), then switch over. Unless you spend the majority of your time in flat shoes!
Finding the right shoe
There are 4 major players in the CrossFit shoe game, and a few others in the minimalist game that work well too.
Reebok, Nike, NoBull, and Inov8.
Reebok has the Nano and the Speed TR. The Nano (Nano 9 currently) is the quintessential CrossFit shoe. It's the original and great! Zero drop and super durable. The Speed TR is a blend of trainer and runner. Minimal drop, solid support.
Nike has the Metcon, with a few different versions. The regular Metcon (Metcon 5 currently) is a bit wider than the Nano. Few millimeter drop. Solid shoe!
NoBull has the "Trainer" in low top or hightop. Newer to the game, but super fun shoes and company! They also have a Runner and Lifter in their arsenal. Simple and effective.
Inov8 began as a minimalist running shoe company and has since begun making CrossFit specific shoes on top of the rest. These are the real OG shoes, this is what we all wore "back in the day" when we started before Reebok and Nike got everything going. They have the F-Lite series and the Fastlift lifters. There are numbers after each shoe which corresponds to the weight in grams of the shoe.
All that being said, it all comes down to what you prefer. Just like any other shoe!
You have to find something you like, that fits well. Everything I spoke of above, is to help shed some light on where to begin!
In Duluth, there are very few places to get these shoes. Tortoise and Hare is the only place, they have Inov8. Everything else will be the cities at best, or online. The great thing is, most of these shoes and most of the sizes can be found at the gym. You can see and likely try on some before you purchase.
We love talking about shoes, so ask your coach what they would recommend and help you figure out what you may like!