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The research regarding footwear, especially functional fitness shoes, is changing how companies are making shoes and there are many options out there for training.  Let me break down some of the different options for you.

If you are lifting, be it weights, barbells, kettlebells or just carrying groceries, ideally you want a shoe that provides a solid connection to the ground.  This means you want minimal to zero cushioning under the heel so that you have a stable surface underfoot.  Any degree of cushioning will suck power from your lift and this is why lifting shoes are ultra rigid.  Lifting shoes are getting their own blog post so stay tuned.

If you are cross-training and want a shoe that can fit a wide range of training methods such as running mixed with lifting you need to find a shoe that can perform well for both.  Minimal shoes offer that perfect blend of providing a bit of cushioning while still providing support for running.
Note: Changing to a minimal shoe requires a bit of awareness about foot mechanics and is going to make your arch work as nature intends, so this transition should be a gradual process.  Just as other muscles in the body, the arch has to gradually build up strength and adjust to a change in footwear, so prepare to keep your old shoes for a month or so to gradually work in your minimal shoes into your training. 


Now which functional fitness shoes to buy!?!

 The Drop!
Minimal shoes are typically identified by the differential or drop.  This indicates the difference from heel to toe in height. 6mm is the ideal drop for someone who is transitioning from a cushy running shoe.

Typically you want to get a shoe that is a midpoint from the standard running shoe to the completely barefoot style of shoe that will allow you feet to adjust to the change. This drop is also good for mid-foot strikers. Inov8 identifies their 6mm shoes with a dual arrow imprinted into the back of the heel.
3mm or 4mm is a truly minimal differential and provides just enough cushioning to buffer some of the 
effects of running on concrete but this starts to give you a really
solid connection to the ground.

This is one of the preferred standards for most cross training including Crossfit.  Inov8 makes a 3mm with the single shockzone and Reebok Nano 3.0 shoes feature a 4mm drop. A bare shoe will always be a zero drop as it is essentially a rubber outersole to simply protect the feet from the elements.  These shoes are perfect for deadlifts, kettlebell swings or for those truly committed to barefoot running.

Just for a visual a typical running shoe has a 16mm differential or the equivalent to a fat sharpie Marker, 6mm is about the thickness of a pencil and 3mm is about the thickness of pencil lead.

functional fitness shoes

Whats going on the outside?

Other than the drop take a look at how the rest of the shoe is constructed.  The Nano by Reebok is all about structure.  They have a Toe Cap, side wall lugs, and heel cap to provide grip for rope climbing, bumpers for box jumps and overall are built to last.  They are a solid shoe and built for cross training that is heavy on lifting and not best for running.  Inov8 is all about performance and comfort in a super lightweight package.  FYI the model # indicates the weight of the shoe in grams (for a size 9)  They feature the fascia band system that envelopes the top mid foot for support around the arch with an open toe box area for toe spread that provides a better base of support.  The built in RopeTec in some models provides grip and durability during rope climbs.  Inov8s are great for cross training including running.

Because the optimal shoe is different for each person and with many models & colors to choose from, the best thing to do is come into one of our stores to get fitted on a shoe that gets your feet moving.


Always Keep Moving



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