In order to answer that question properly, it’s important to understand the kinds of strains CrossFit puts on the body.
The CrossFit WOD (Workout of the Day) will have athletes taking part in a huge variety of activities – from running and indoor rowing through to gymnastic exercises, weight lifting and rope climbing. The workouts are all high intensity and a large number of them are high impact.
In the same way that someone isn’t going to wear their business suit to the gym, standard running shoes or trainers are not going to cut it for CrossFit. The shoes are there to:
Protect the athlete
Improve their performance
Look really cool (Granted, this is probably the least important but honestly? Yes, it does matter!)
CrossFit shoes provide support and stability for the various forms of weight lifting, as well as protection from the high impact activities like running, jumping and swimming.
Shoemakers Saucony report that the equivalent of 2.5 – 3 times the athlete’s body weight passes through the foot every time it strikes the floor whilst running. So it makes sense the right shoes will absorb some of this shock, and help protect from impact-related muscle strains and injuries.
Wearing a particular shoe is never going to change a couch potato into Usain Bolt; but it’s surprising what a difference it can make! Here are a few examples:
Whilst weightlifting, stability is extremely important. Shoes like the purpose-designed Reebok CrossFit OLY Lifter have got stability in mind, keeping the drop between the heel and toe minimal. The more stable the foot is on the floor, the better the weightlifting.
Shoes can take a real pounding during rope-climbs. The friction between the rope and the shoe easily, and quickly, causes damage to the shoe and discomfort to the wearer. A number of shoes specifically designed for CrossFit – and the Reebok CrossFit Nano is just one example – include reinforced and protected areas on the inside of the shoe, specifically for rope-climbing.
The running shoe industry is massive, and specialised running shoes have been around for years. However they’re exactly that – specialised for running, designed to be durable through miles of pavement pounding but unlikely to suit other CrossFit activities.
For running, it’s vital that shoes have some support, as well as flexibility in the sole and are lightweight. Ranges like the Inov-8 CrossFit shoes are starting to blend running shoe technology with CrossFit demands.
Click here to read which crossfit shoes are the best