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#1 Problem When Working Out

By Todd M. Cambio | February 14, 2012

Are You Wearing Improper footwear?

Running shoes are for running, not for working out, lifting weights, or swinging kettlebells!

When ever I go to a gym, studio, sports performance facility or conduct a workshop, I see people wearing running shoes. These soft and squishy sneakers may feel good to wear, but to do a workout in where you strength train or do change of direction drills, they are the wrong choice.

I am not saying don’t wear them to run in, that is a whole different debate. Minimalist running shoes vs traditional running shoes has its own arguments. I am saying to not wear them to the gym to workout in.

A running shoe is made to go in one direction, straight ahead. They are not meant to do change of direction drills, especially lateral movements. They are also not made to do strength training movements.

Running shoes have such a large cushion to them it’s’ like having marshmallows on your feet, heels especially, which do not allow your feet for feel the ground properly. The cushioning in the soles of the shoe compress way too much when strength training and can cause exaggerated pronation (under or over) in the feet.  Imagine how much extra lean you would get if you had marshmallows on your feet to when squatting, especially if you already have a pronation in your feet?

This inward or outward lean of the feet can directly lead to ankle issues. Ankle issues can lead to foot, knee, hip, back and IT Band issues.

When strength training, running shoes raise the heel and can push the knee forward during exercises like squats or KB swings. This forward movement during a hip dominate exercise could very easily contribute to a knee injury. Also when you squat, dead lift or do anything ground based with running shoes on, your ankle will role in or out to an exaggerated degree causing shearing forces in the lower body.

Shearing forces are not good for the body. These forces actually pull bones in different directions. When this happens, opposing muscle groups are not activated when they should be. Again, this can cause ankle, knee, hip, IT Band issues and back pain!

So how can you avoid these issues or even correct some of the problems you may be already dealing with?  Simple, train in flat soled shoes or even go barefoot, you will be more stable and actually feel the ground with your feet.

Your foot has more nerve endings than your hands, so imagine wearing mittens all the time.  Now take these mittens and not allow the wrist to move.  So how many problems do you think will develop over time?  My guess, a lot of problems.

Also, if you have a lifestyle that causes you to round your shoulders, like sitting at a desk for long periods of time, using the computer all the time, texting, slouching, driving for extended periods of time or other things like this, you should also work on correcting your posture. A great article in Men’s Health can give you some solutions. Check it out at: http://www.mensfitness.com/training/five-most-common-gym-injuries

Proper foot wear examples include Chuck Taylor’s ($30-$50), NB Minimus ($85-100), Vibram 5 Fingers ($100-$110) and other similar brands.  Get foot wear that has a minimal heel raise and no squishy cushion to it.


So in conclusion, to get a better workout, reduce your risk of injuries and to minimize everyday aches and pains I suggest buying proper footwear for your workouts.

Think about it:

• You wouldn’t wear soccer cleats on a basketball court would you?
• You wouldn’t wear high heels to run a 5K would you?
• You wouldn’t wear your heavy winter coat to the beach in the summer would you?

So WHY are you wearing running shoes to the gym?

Be Fit,

Precision Fitness

PS – Learn other strategies to fixing posture, general aches and pains in the body and reducing inflammation in the body by grabing a copy of my book: Reducing-Everyday-Pain-and-Inflammation

Topics: Number One Problem Working Out, Reducing Everyday Pain and Inflammation, shoes, sneakers, Todd Cambio | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “#1 Problem When Working Out”

  1. Anonymous Says:
    December 18th, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    So what type of footwear would I wear for combo/plyometrics or tabatta training or boot camp. I would think you should have some type of cushioning. Hard to know w/ both strength and cardio at once.

  2. Todd Cambio Says:
    December 19th, 2012 at 1:59 am

    ABSOLUTELY wear a Minimus style of training shoe for those activities. You will get so much more out of your workouts, including Tabatta, Boot Camp, plyos, SAQ (Speed, Agility, Quickness) work, etc. I recommend a 5mm heel raise or less. You may have some calf soreness at first, but that just means you are finally firing all the muscles in your lower extremities. It will subside soon and you will wonder how you ever wore running shoes to workout in.

    From testing several brands, I have found Chuck Taylor’s to be the most universal and least expensive.

    I primarily use the New Balance Minimus for running, lifting, ployos, etc. because they are the most comfortable/breathable, however, if I am doing lots of SAQ and change of direction drills I use Merrell® Barefoot Trail Glove Running Shoes because they have a solid Vibram outsole which doesn’t tear off like the NB Minimus.

    I also have a pair of Vibram 5 Fingers, while they are great for lifting and running, they tend to smell no matter what I do! And for some reason, when doing lateral SAQ drills and lateral movements, my baby toe will come out of its “finger” which is kind of annoying. So I primarily use them only in the water for paddle boarding.

    Unless you are ONLY running in a straight line on pavement, I see no need for running shoes.

    Hope that helps…