Friday, July 28, 2017

Minimal shoes are going mainstream

Image stolen from linked article.
On my way to work I regularly listen to a number of podcasts.  The best one is Robb Wolf's podcast, 6 listeners can't be wrong. But this isn't about that one, this is about the popular Freakonomics radio. I feel like they're a little "NPR Smart" on that podcast, but there are usually good nuggets that make it worth my time.  This week's was a great one, and it's about a topic I really care about: minimal shoes.

They actually dig in to the evolutionary biology, and discuss how folks who grow up barefoot don't have knee, hip, or back problems. It appears that it's the shoes that are causing all of the joint problems we're seeing now.  Here's just one quote from that podcast.
So we will bring into the lab people who have never worn a shoe in their lives and people who wear shoes all the time and we’ve looked at how they run and how they walk, how strong their feet are and we tried to collect some data on injury from them. For example, their knees. We’ve been x-raying people’s knees. 
One group stayed in a pair of cushioned shoes and the other group were given this five-dollar pair of shoes that were highly flexible.  And what they found is, number one, their mechanics were more normal in the minimal shoe. 
In those barefoot populations, we find almost no incidents, for example, of people having flat feet. They just don’t exist. But more importantly to these patients, they had significant reduction in their pain medication, and significant improvement in their functional outcomes. That’s just with a pair of minimal shoes. 
We look at incidence of musculoskeletal diseases. The evidence appears to be that they have really considerably lower rates of diseases like arthritis. It doesn’t mean that these people don’t have problems, of course they do. But they have fewer problems, it seems, in their feet, their knees, and possibly their hips.
I've totally switched to barefoot shoes - I wear them to work (and I have a standing desk), I wear the to the gym, and I wear them for my weekend hikes - and not only do I just feel better, but I feel stronger and move better. 

For example, wearing any shoe with a heel over works your quads, knees, and lower back, and turns off your hamstrings and glutes. I know that when I deadlift after a long hike in barefoot shoes, I lift better since my hammies are already firing.

I can't say enough good things about going with a minimal (or no) shoe. 

If you want to give them a try, I recommend Xero shoes. They're right down the street in Broomfield. Scroll down below for a link to them.


row 500 / run 400
crawling lunge
10 KB swings or snatches
double KB overhead lunge
10 TGUs or windmills
10 goblet squats
5 pull-ups or push-ups or dips


push press 5-3-3-3x3


5 Bulgarian split squats between strength sets

Group Workout

6 rounds:
50/50 kettlebell press 4L, 4R at a challenging weight
10 kettlebell swing two intervals heavier than press


10 max effort negative pull ups


2 minute hollow hold


Sign up for classes

Strength Metrics

Get Xero Shoes