In today’s episode of the PT on ICE Daily Show, Fitness Athlete instructor Guillermo Contreras breaks down the difference between the different types of training shoes for the functional fitness athlete that are currently available on the market. Take a listen to learn how to recommend the best shoe for your patient or athlete (or yourself!)
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01:33 – Dr. Guillermo Contreras, PT, DPT, CF-L2, Cert-CMFA, Cert-ICE
All right, welcome to the PT on ICE Daily Show Gang. Welcome to the best day of the week, Fitness Athlete Friday. I am here with you, Guillermo Contreras, physical therapist and faculty, or on the team under Fitness Athlete Division of the Institute of Clinical Excellence. Excited to be on this morning to talk all things near and dear to my heart, fitness footwear or shoewear as far as it goes with the fitness athlete. Before we dive into the extensive topic at hand, where you can catch us next, most, next, I can’t even talk today, for Fitness Athlete Central Foundations, if you’re looking to take the online course and learn all things squat, deadlift, press, pull-up, and even medcon and remod start some introductory programming, the next cohort of Central Foundations kicks off on September 11th, so you have about a month and a half before we start that one up. That course, as well as our Advanced Concepts courses, tend to always sell out before the course begins. So if you’ve been looking at taking it, you’re considering taking that course, make sure to sign up early, especially Advanced Concept, because that course has less seats in it and it’s a lot bigger, like heavier, denser material, so make sure you’re jumping on that as soon as you can. Speaking of Advanced Concepts, that starts up on September 17th, so again, about another month and a half before that one kicks off. If you’re looking to catch us out on the road, we have a handful of courses throughout the fall, and then the summer is a little bit quieter. The only course right now we have going on this summer is June 24th, 25th in Loveland, Ohio. That’s where we leave with Zach Long down at Onward at downtown in Ohio, and then we move on to September, so starting in the fall, a lot of courses going through until the winter ends. Bismarck North Dakota on September 9th and 10th, Newark, California on September 30th and October 1st, Linwood, Washington October 7th and 8th, a double course weekend on November 4th and 5th in either San Antonio, Texas or Birmingham, Alabama. November 17th and 18th, we are in Holmes Beach, Florida. I’m not sure where that is. I believe it’s up near the Sarasota area, and then a double weekend again on December 9th and 10th in Louisiana as well as Colorado Springs, Colorado. So if you’ve been looking to take those courses, if any of those courses are in your area, if they’re nearby, you can drive to them, quick flight, pop over, right? Hope to see you there on the road in the next couple months. Again, my name is Guillermo Contreras. I’m on the staff of the Whitney Fitness Athlete Division, Help Out With Essential Foundations. It’s one of a lot of courses, and if you’ve taken Essential Foundations in the past, you know that I’m commonly like jokingly referred to as the shoe guy. I’ve met people who have way more shoes than I do. They collect them, they put them in boxes and store them and things like that. That’s not my style. I buy them, I wear them, I train in them, I circulate depending on what I feel like wearing that day, what my outfit is going to be, like weird things like that, things that aren’t really necessary as far as training goes, but it’s important for everybody here. And what I’m doing here is I’m basically going through all the shoe options that we have now available to us in the fitness athlete realm. The most common question we get around shoes is not like, oh, what material do you recommend? What’s the heel drop? It’s usually, hey, gearmo or hey, gang, if I have someone who’s just starting CrossFit, what shoe do you recommend they start out? Or, hey, I’m into this CrossFit thing now, I think I really enjoy it and I want to keep doing it. What shoe would you recommend I start out with? What shoe would you recommend I buy? What shoe should I purchase and use? Those are the questions we kind of get. So that’s what I’m going to go over. I’m going to do my best to keep this in a short format because this is something I could probably go on a long tangent about. I enjoyed doing my write-ups for this and getting all my research listed out for me so I can kind of really make sure I hit all the points. And by all means, if anyone ever wants me to do a long version of this in like a vice lecture, as long as the crew is okay with it, please let me know. Happy to do slides and everything as well. So we’re going to start with the most commonly known brands, most commonly known shoe that people are aware of that’s out there and maybe basically go down to the least known. And at the end, I’ll give my recommendation for my favorite shoe, like the thing I wear the most for training, as well as probably the most common shoe we see in and out of the CrossFit sphere. So starting off with the shoe that kind of started it all, I would say, well, technically, it doesn’t matter, the Reebok Nano, right? So Reebok Nano, this is the Nano X2. They now have the X3. The X3, from what I’ve heard, actually delivered a little bit better with this shoe, a little bit more flexibility, more bounce, more comfortable with running. The Nano X3 has a seven millimeter heel drop. So from heel to toe, seven millimeter heel drop. So more comfortable for lifting, gives you a nice base. The back here is nice and firm and stiff. It has this cage thing here, which helps with support. And then this weird line thing is supposed to be some sort of weird spring bounce. So that’s some of the little features. It’s got a lift run chassis is what it says it’s called. But it’s an overall solid training shoe for interval training, for high intensity training, for CrossFit. It’s got a solid base for lifting. And I would argue it’s got a, it’s a decent shoe, especially the X3, where it’s a little bit more comfortable, a little bit more cushioned, especially through the forefoot, midfoot. It’s a little more comfortable for runs. Would I recommend training for a marathon, doing long duration, long distance running in it? No, I would honestly probably limit this shoe to somewhere around the 800 meter, maybe no more than a mile. If you’ve gotten used to it, you’re comfortable with it. You don’t mind a slightly heavier shoe. This is what I would recommend for you if you’re comfortable with it. So if you are looking for a very, very good running Nano from the CEO of himself, Alan, he recommends the Nano X1 Adventure. So that one came out two series ago. I think you can probably get those for like 70 bucks now on sale for everything that we’re seeing there on the Reebok website. Only thing else I have with this is, again, slightly heavy and the cost is around 150. It used to be 130. They’ve jacked up the price. I’m not sure why, but the Nano is about $150 now to buy on brand new. But sometimes you find pretty good sales as far as like family, friends sales or previous versions. The X2 is pretty good if you want to go with that. Number two, again, this is not the newest version because I left my pair at the gym, but this is Neki Metcon. So Neki Metcon came out shortly after the Nano. It was kind of like the biggest competitor as far as a CrossFit shoe. The Metcon is stylish, right? It’s got a lot of durability to it because it has like this really big rope guard is what they call it for rope climbs and such. The newest one, the Nano, I believe, or sorry, the Metcon, I think they’re on eight now. The eight is more built, right? It is made to be the quintessential fitness shoe. It’s functional. It’s 100% about function. It looks kind of sleek, but I’m not a huge fan of the look of it than you are one. But again, it’s a very functional shoe. This has a four millimeter hill drop. The older ones have a four millimeter and they came with like a lift thing you could slide into it. This is a Metcon 5, I believe. But then the Metcon 6, 7, 8 come with like it’s already in there. So it’s a thick TPU heel. This one isn’t as stiff as the newer ones, but they have a really stiff heel and that I would say is the biggest con about this shoe. It’s very good for lifting. It’s good for wall balls and such because it’s a nice, stiff heel. You can elevate the back a little bit. It’s flexible, which is very nice. It’s got an advantage for hands and pushups because it’s got this like weird TPU plastic heel clip thing that’s supposed to slide up the wall a little more easily. But again, it’s a very blocky shoe when you think about the heel. So if you’re someone who is a heel striker, the Metcon is actually one of the worst shoes for running at any distance more than maybe a 200, 400. So sprints probably fine. 400, 600, 800 in a workout is probably fine. But if you’re doing a 5K day, if you’re doing Merve, the Metcon is probably not the shoe you want to go with for that there. So this is the Nike Metcon. These run, I think 130 is what they run. And you can get customs for 160. So if you ever want to customize a shoe, 160 is not bad and a good option for most people there. A lot of people wear these. So those are the most common shoes you probably see in the gym because they’re the most well-known brands. The next, what am I going through? Five, six here are less known or just less worn more than more is probably the better thought here. And the first one is right here. This is the Innovate, which people probably know Innovate for their old school barefoot minimalist kind of shoe wear. This is the Innovate F-Lite G300. In my opinion, this is the best crossfit shoe that Innovate makes. They make a couple other people. I believe the F235 is another option that people really like. And I believe there’s another one that I can’t recall all the letters and numbers, but Innovate makes these pretty good shoes. This one here has a six millimeter heel drop. So a higher heel height than the other shoes they have. It’s definitely not a minimalist in that it doesn’t have that heel drop there. It has what they call a booty style here. So there’s no tongue. It’s just you slip your foot in and you’re over it again once you’re in it. I never untie or tie the laces and it’s pretty snug for me on my foot. It has a wider toe box, but not super wide. So if you like that, like the ability to display your toes, this is kind of nice here. It’s lightweight. It’s flexible, right? So you can bend it, you can turn it, you can go both ways. That’s not as flexible as I thought it was, but I feel it’s pretty flexible. It’s got a stable heel, but it’s not so stiff that you can’t run in these either. These are actually very comfortable to run in, in my opinion. One con or con that this one has is you can kind of see this plastic cage on it there. And for those who are watching, just listening on the podcast, there’s like a plastic cage around like the midfoot. That plastic cage, quote unquote cage, provides some more stability in that midfoot, in that midsole, but it also can be a con in some people who do not like, or who have slightly wider feet, because it’s going to restrict that midfoot a little bit more and it’s not the most comfortable thing. So if you’re someone with more wide feet, not so narrow midfoot area, this shoe is probably not going to be the most comfortable because of this plastic cage, but overall it’s a nice solid shoe. My biggest qualms with it, again, are the cage, if you’re not into it. If you’re not into that boot style, kind of slip on shoe, this is probably not going to be for you because you like to cinch up those laces and cut blood flow off to your feet. And honestly, they claim that the durability is very good on these because of this plastic cage. But if you look here, this fiber here, which is meant to be breathable and really flexible and nice, is actually one of the downfalls. That is not as durable. So I have a couple of friends who own these who have like little holes in them. And despite this being a rather expensive shoe, it can run anywhere from, I think, let’s see, you can get them on sale for like $75, but they run up to like $155. I think these were like $150. For something that cost $150, you would expect it to last and do pretty well with road climbs and everything crossfit. And then customer service is not ideal. So little things that we don’t need to dive into here. But again, good shoe, 6-millimeter heel height. So keep that in mind for your athletes. Next up, we have the Rad 1 Trainer. This one came into the market, I think, two years ago. It started off not so hot because it came out and it was extremely narrow, really sized poorly. So everyone was buying them and they needed to go with a full size. But they’ve actually fixed a lot of their sizing issues at this point. The Rad 1 Trainer has, again, another 6-millimeter heel drop. It has what they call a multi-directional outsole. So you can do a lot of different agility type things. It’s good for jumping. It’s good. It’s really, really solid and stable for lifting. Cushion for plyometrics. It’s actually fairly comfortable for running. Again, I wouldn’t do a 5K or anything like that. But again, it’s comfortable for your shorter runs, maybe max of a mile, mile and a half. So Merck would probably be really comfortable in these. High density, they have something called a Surge Energy Foam Midsole. So it’s a very comfortable shoe. I personally actually really enjoy wearing these for working out, for crossfit workouts. I like them for lifting. So I kind of recommend them. They’re a smaller brand too. So if you’re into that whole helping smaller businesses and not just the mega ones like Nike and Reebok, this is a cool brand to get into. Price point, again, a little bit high, $150 when you’re looking at them. It’s aesthetically pleasing, which is always nice. Something that kind of looks kind of good, looks kind of cool and good options there. And the one thing they do have is similar to, if you’re familiar with Noble, is that they’ll have different colorways come out. But unlike Noble, I think they do re-releases. With Rad, when they run out of a colorway, that’s it. They don’t remake them, at least at this point they have. They’re probably still early on enough where they’re not going to, but they might in the future. But they start off with a colorway, they release it, and that’s pretty much it. When they sell out, they sell out, they’re done. So again, really solid shoe, really good for weightlifting, really good for crossfit, HIIT style workouts. Again, aesthetically, it looks nice for some people because of all the different colorways. Some colorways I think are hideous and I don’t understand, but again, to each their own when it comes to what they wear on their feet for that. So this here, again, is the Rad One Trainer. Next, we have probably the newest brand out there that we’ve seen in the crossfit sphere. Athletes like Pat Velner, who else are wearing these? Pat Velner goes to mind right away. There’s a bunch of like mayhem athletes who have it. I think Guillermo Maieros, shout out to the Guillermo’s of the world. This is the Tier CT One Trainer, and it is CXT One Trainer, whatever. Again, this runs about 129, so about average for most crossfit style shoes. This one has a big old heel height. So this is a nine millimeter heel height. So this is fantastic for anyone who has stiff ankles looking to have that little bit of a jump in height to be able to squat a little deeper. To not have to worry about the stiff ankle, not have to worry about inserts or something that’s in between like a weightlifting shoe and a training shoe while still having like flexibility, which is it’s a very flexible shoe. It’s actually really comfortable too. It’s got a good cushion to it. I made a mistake when I said the Energy Foam Midsole that’s in this shoe, not in the Rad One Trainer, but the Rad One Trainer is still comfortable. So it’s got there. So it’s responsive for like jumping, plyometrics, everything like that. It’s breathable. This is like, it looks dense, but it’s actually very breathable through the fabric on the top there. And it’s just a good quality shoe. My cons with this one is I don’t know if you can tell. Let’s see if we can compare it to like the Nano. If you look at the difference, it is significantly more narrow, especially through the forefoot down into the toes. So I personally like wearing these for short lifting sessions. I don’t do them for a lot of plyometric workouts. I have a slightly wider foot. My toes splay pretty nicely. So I don’t like having my pinky toe kind of crushed into here. I could go up a size 12 and a half, but I also like to wear my laces loose and therefore it slips off my foot. So for me, this one’s out. If you have narrow feet, if you have a narrow toe box and you don’t have like big toes and like the splay and spread out, this one’s actually probably a solid shoe. And I would say it’s a very good, very comfortable training shoe for most individuals. Breathable, comfortable, really good for lifting. Again, sprinting short runs, but because of that high heel height, stiff heel, probably not the best for like really long runs if you’re someone who’s doing longer runs. And then some people on the internet say like durability because the fabric is soft, because it’s breathable, durability might not be the best. But again, quite a narrow toe box. So keep that in mind for your athletes who like that wider toe box. Also a caveat, but surprisingly they have such a narrow toe box on these when their lifters are basically publicized as like the best natural minimalist wide toe box lifting shoe there is. So surprising there, but again, very comfortable, good to go there. Last ones we have, I’m going to say is, or not the last one we have, the next one we have is not the actual trainer itself, but it’s one of the pairs I have from the same company. And that is the Strike Movement Haze Trainer. This is not the Haze Trainer, this is the, what is this, Strike Movement, I don’t remember, Transit Trainer, I’m sorry, it’s the Transit Trainer. But the Haze Trainer is the same company, so that’s the brand, Strike Movement. I would probably say I use this shoe to train in more than any other shoe I have. I have them at my clinic at the gym, so I work out there a lot with those. This one has a four millimeter heel drop. It is known as the, some claim it to be the most underrated shoe on the market as far as CrossFit or fitness athlete training shoes. A really cool little feature that which I love, because I, for some reason, I have this thing where I don’t like my laces over the top of the shoe. It’s got this little shoe pocket where you can, or shoelace pocket, where you can tuck your laces into it and hide them. So you just see that logo and it just looks really clean and fresh. These shoes are that minimalist feel. So it’s got a minimalist feel in that it’s not super heavy, it’s not super dense, it’s very flexible throughout the shoe, while still somehow maintaining a really solid heel cup and stable heel for weightlifting, for squatting, for deadlifting, for pretty much all of your heavy lifts. Oops, sorry about that. There’s a slightly wider toe box on all of their shoes, so they have enough space for your toes to really spread out. It’s a little wider through the mid-foot, which gives really nice kind of plushy, really nice kind of splay and play for your feet throughout all your lifts and your workouts and everything like that. And it’s actually pretty good for distances anywhere from 100 meters to a 5K, just because of the comfort of the shoe, the flexibility of it. Good for daily wear, because it’s a good looking shoe too. Lots of colorways coming out now. They have a lot going on. They just released their, what is it, their Bomb Pop packs. So there’s a red shoe, a blue shoe, and a white shoe in case you’re interested in that kind of thing. They do run a little pricey. They are $150 and they come from Canada, so the shipping is a little slow, but it does get to you and it’s totally worth it. They’re a lighter shoe. And again, the biggest cons with these are, one, the price. They’re a little pricey. Two, the durability. Because they’re a lighter shoe, a very breathable shoe, a very comfortable shoe, they might have a little durability issue if you’re pretty rough with them. But again, I’ve had mine for probably almost six months and a year, and I’ve had these for at least three and a half years. And you can see that there’s nothing wrong with them. I did an entire open with them. I work out with them. I go to work with them. They’re just a good shoe to wear. I travel with them and everything like that. So they’re pretty good. And some people say that if you need a custom orthotic in the shoe, it’s probably not the best shoe for that. Just the way that the shoe is built, the orthotic fitting in there. So keep that in mind if you’re someone who wears custom orthotics every time they work out. And that’s that there. Okay. So those are the shoes I have in my possession. The two that I do not own that I want to mention quick are the Goruck Ballistic Trainer. That one is a very good shoe. It has an eight millimeter heel drop. So again, a fantastic shoe for weightlifting for someone with stiff ankles or limited ankle mobility. It’s a very durable shoe. It is bare bones construction. It has, I believe it’s like the fabric is like a cordura. So something like you would see in the military. And it’s going to last forever. It’s very comfortable for daily wear. It’s very comfortable for working out. It’s comfortable for weightlifting. It’s very stable. It’s a solid, solid quality shoe. The best, the only cons we see in that one are that it’s not the best looking shoe for some people. Like some people think it looks, because it’s so bare bones, like it’s very minimal. They’re not trying to be flashy. They’re trying to just be functional. So it’s not the best looking shoe. And I’ve also heard that it’s a little bit hot and sweaty. So if you wear it for all day, your feet get really warm in it because of the fabric of it. And it’s not the most breathable thing, even though I think they claim it’s very breathable. And it does take a little bit of a longer break in period to kind of get the shoe loosened up and to feel like it’s best, but it does get there and it’s worth it once you get to that point. So the shoe can also be a little heavy at times, which people are not a big fan of. And lastly, the only other shoe that I no longer own that people still wear occasionally are your Noble trainers and the Noble Now Trainer Plus. These have a four millimeter heel drop, whether you’re going with a Noble Trainer or the Trainer Plus. They have abrasion resistance. Kind of the fabric on the outside is like that ripstop fabric or I can’t remember what it’s called. And they have tons of colorways. So there’s so many options in black and whites and polka dots and flowers, pretty much anything that you want, they probably make both in the short and the thicker sold Trainer and Trainer Plus. The pros for me are it’s a good looking shoe for someone looking for that shoe that can do fitness as well as go out, hang out all day for wear with jeans, things like that. There’s so many options that it’s a durable shoe, a good material. Some people, if you have perfect ankle mobility, everything like that and strong feet, it’s a comfortable shoe to wear to work out. The cons for the Noble Trainer is that it’s a very narrow shoe. Our COO Alan, he’s a very tall, tall shoe. Our COO Alan, when he wore his, he would basically flood out the sides of it. He’s got very wide feet, good solid arch, so he’s not like this over pronated or flat feet thing. It’s just a very wide foot that just cannot be contained by the material of the Noble Trainer and especially their runners, which don’t have any real material support there. So if you’re someone with flat feet or a lot of pronation, probably not the best shoe there. These are terrible to run in. I’ve heard people, like immediately they get them and they hate them for running, so they take them off and put other shoes on for running, even like 200 and 400, so not the best there. Not ideal for a lot of high volume plyometrics too, because again, there’s not a lot to the shoe. It’s a very, I would say, minimalistic shoe with a hefty price tag for a shoe that hasn’t really changed in style since its inception in 2014, 2013. And if you go with the Trainer Plus, which came out recently in the last year or so, it’s got a much thicker entire sole and it actually makes the shoe about 20% heavier. So it’s a heavy dense shoe if you go with the Trainer Plus. What I will say though is people do seem to love these shoes. It’s going to depend on the person. I personally used to wear these a lot. Then I started wearing other shoes and I’m like, man, I really don’t like these. I sold them all. No longer wear them. Don’t really recommend them to most people unless they have like really skinny feet and they want to go with more of a stylistic shoe versus like a very good functional shoe they can work out in. But if you’re going to go for the Noble, the Trainer Plus is going to be more of your comfort and spring. So more plyos, running, jumping, things like that. If you’re looking for a more stable trainer, go with the regular trainer. Honorable mentions, I want to make sure I mention here that Alan told me to say the Ultra Lone Peak. So if you’ve heard of Ultra, it’s a minimalist footwear company. They make something called the Ultra Lone Peak. It’s a fantastic shoe for running, hiking, everything like that. Wouldn’t do rope climbs in it, but it has its nice wide base. It’s not a CrossFit shoe. It’s not a fitness shoe, but it’s still a shoe that you can use in fitness if you’re looking for that realm. Yes, it definitely is a cult. I was a big part of that cult for a while there, Audra. Narrow feet, narrow feet. There you go. So that’s it. So my recommendations here, gang, I’m going to finish off because I’ve been going for quite a while here. The biggest things I want to say is if you have someone that has really stiff ankles, limited ankles, go back to the episode, which ones did I recommend? Right? The Reebok Nano has your nice heel height. It’s got the seven millimeter heel height. The Go-Rek has an eight millimeter heel height and the Innovate here has a six millimeter heel height or heel drop. I’m sorry. Those are going to be the ones that are going to be great for the ankle. And then number one overall home is going to be the tier one, right? So if you have someone with narrow feet who’s comfortable with that, who needs all that ankle extraness there, nine millimeter height, the tier one is going to be your best weightlifting shoe. The shoe I would recommend the least to people I already mentioned is the Noble, but again, some people love Noble. It’s very cultish. They look good. So again, if someone has narrow feet, they like that style. It’s worth trying to see how it works for them. And then my number one shoe, the one shoe that I love, that I wear more than anything else, is going to be the Strike Move and Haze Trainer. That is my favorite shoe to train in, to treat in the clinic, to do short runs in, whether it’s weightlifting. I’ve PR’d my snatch in those. I PR’d my deadlift in those. I hit a heavy squat in those. The Strike Move and Haze Trainer, even though it’s got a little bit of a price tag, it’s worth it. It’s one of the best shoes out there. I think it’s less known in the fitness community because you don’t see it very often and it’s kind of a smaller brand. They do a lot of cool things with even like parkour athletes, which is kind of a unique thing. But a great shoe there. And if you want to go with like a comparable second place with me, I would probably say my second is going to be somewhere between the Innovate FF G-Lite, or GF Lite 300, whatever, and the Radwin Trainer. It’s a very good shoe. They’re both quality stuff. You got to play around with it, but feel free. If you want me to do some sort of like write up with all these details, I’m happy to share it in like a comment or on the iStudents page. Again, I’ve gone way over on time. I can go on for a very long time about this stuff. So thank you, gang, for tuning in. Again, we hope to see you on the road. Hope to see you on an online course soon. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out and have a wonderful Friday and have a great weekend, everybody. Thanks.
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