What To Look For in a Workout Shoe
Written by Zach Erick
With Nike entering the CrossFit shoe game this February, we are all going to have a few more options to choose from other than the “go to” Reebok CrossFit Nano. Now, I’m not interested in the holy wars of who makes the best shoe, but here are some things you should look for in whatever shoe you choose to complete your workout in.
A stiff, hard sole: This is the reason why most CrossFitters choose the Nano over any other shoe – the sole. Most major shoe companies are just copying and pasting the same sole they use for their running shoes to make a “training shoe.” Running shoes, as you can tell by just looking at them, use almost an inch of foam, gel, or both, that separates your foot from the ground. Let’s say you’re going for a new one rep max Snatch; would you want to use a shoe where the distribution of weight constantly shifts because your shoe is built more like a mattress than a shoe? NO. You want a shoe that glues your foot to the ground and feels stable no matter the load you’re carrying, squatting, etc.
Minimal heel to toe drop: The “drop” of a shoe measures the difference between the height of the heel and the height of the forefoot. A shoe with a 15+mm heel drop will look more like a high heel than a shoe.
A shoe with a 0mm (zero) drop will be completely flat from the heel to the forefoot.
This is where personal preference and mobility come into play. Someone with poor ankle mobility who’s been wearing a “non-minimal” shoe should slowly start to wean themselves away from the thick padding under their heel. A good place to start would be on the higher end of the “minimal drop” scale; lets say 6mm. A shoe with a 6mm drop is also a good choice for someone who would like a little more support while running in a CrossFit workout.
Lateral Support: We create torque from our hips in CrossFit. The result of creating this torque drives our knees out, and also shifts the weight onto the outside “heel” of the foot. If you’re wearing a shoe that does not have lateral support, your foot will literally push out over the sole, similar to a muffin top. Shoes with lateral support typically have some sort of outer “cage” or wire in the center of the shoe, keeping the foot over the sole of the shoe. Before you make a purchase, do a few air squats in your shoes, creating that torque we’re talking about and make sure you foot isn’t hanging over the side.
Before you make your next shoe investment ensure that the shoe meets at least these three traits. Personal preference and style will of course come into play during your purchase but I feel that we can all agree that no one in their right mind should be doing anything in a shoe that looks like this!