We’re seeing more and more “minimalist'” or “low profile” shoes on the market. These types of shoes are intended to simulate barefoot running, remedy which forces the athlete to strike and stay on the balls of the feet, website and not the heel. Minimalist shoes are excellent shoes for CrossFit for this reason, and because they create a more stable lifting platform than standard running shoes. It’s pretty tough to keep your weight on your heels when your running shoes are canting you forward and squishing under the weight.
These type of shoes are measure by “drop”. Drop is the distance the toes drops from the heel. Normal Inov-8’s have a 6mm drop, and New Balance’s have a 4mm drop. In the “less is more” world, we are seeing more “Zero Drop”, meaning the sole is completely flat, although there may be padding. Both Inov-8 and New Balance have recently released Zero Drop shoes. Many of you have picked up these type of shoes, and it’s cool to see what you guys pick. I would recommend that you transition slowly to full time training in low profile, especially Zero drop, shoes.
I recently picked up 2 pairs of Inov-8s, one is a 3mm drop, the other is a Zero drop. I was doing all of my running in my 3mm, until last week. I was experiencing no soreness in the 3mm, and I felt like I was ready to try to run in the Zero drop. I did a couple of 400m here and there in the Zero drop and even did Open WOD 12.3 (with over 150 box jumps) in the Zero drops. On Thursday I ran two 1200m repeats in the Zero drop shoes. I ran fast, and felt like I kept on my toes.
That night, and building the next day, my Achilles soreness was extreme. I do a ton of jumping, from boxes, to double unders to Oly lifting. When I get sore in my calves, it is normally very high, in the “meat” of the muscle. The Zero drop caused extreme soreness by really forcing my onto my toes the whole run. If I got lazy, and began heel striking, well…I couldn’t, it would be too awkward and painful. It took 3 days to fully recover my Achilles.
Bottom line if you’re shoe shopping and looking to go minimal: I would recommend beginning gradually, with a 6mm to 3mm drop. Many of you have a pair of minimalist and a pair of regular running shoes. That’s fine, but don’t be afraid to work in some running in your minimalist shoes. Just be aware that if your Achilles gets sore, the experiment is working.
Workout of the Day
In 15 minutes, build to a heavy triple
10 Squat Clean 135/95
10 Handstand Pushups
Finish with “6 Minute Abs”