Say It Ain’t So, Joe!

No, Joe Montana is not planning a Brett Farve-like return to football.  I am upset because although he might be the greatest quarterback ever, he seems to be rather confused about fitness and staying out of pain.  His latest endorsement is Skechers Shape-ups.  Really Joe?  Are you serious?  Have you ever put these on?  I haven’t, for fear that my manhood would suddenly be stripped away and never returned.

I’ll admit it.  Years ago I used to be a fan of all that Nike and their Air had to offer but this is getting ridiculous.  These shoes will allegedly improve blood circulation and posture, tighten abdominal muscles while simultaneously firming back muscles and legs, as well as firm your calf muscles (which last time I checked were in fact on your legs), and reduce knee joint stress.  Now that’s a shoe!  With that kind of magic I expect a David Blaine mini clone to come in the box with them.

Now for me the real magic started to happen about 5 years ago when Martin Rooney asked in a DVD if I was training my feet.  Given that force production into the ground is king in just about every sport, then having strong feet (the first link in the chain) is important.  Martin also mentioned that during his time spent as a physical therapist he helped many people with vaious foot problems and in his opinion the best way to do that was to not make them weaker by adding more cusion or orthodics, but by getting people out of their shoes and making the foot stronger just as he would correct and strengthen other parts of the body that had suffered injury.  This led Martin to research and find that in nonindustrialized  countries where people don’t wear shoes, foot problems rarely occured.

Since that a-ha moment I have done the majority of my own training barefoot and encouraged my athletes and clients to do the same in at least their warm up.  In the past few years this line of thinking has only been reinforced since I was introduced to the RKC kettlebell community in early 2008 and through the popularity of Christopher McDougall’s book “Born to Run”.  As I write this I can remember hearing way back that one of my favorite football players, Walter Payton, would take the insole out of his cleats because he could better feel the ground and run more effectively.

The bottom line with shoes is this:  There are people out there who are far smarter than I am and can talk in detail about mechanoreceptors, foot stablity as it relates to ankle mobility, pronation, and plantar fascitis, but what I do know is that simply walking will not get most people in the shape they want to be in and adding some giant cushions to your feet will in no any way change that, other than probably make you worse off in the long run.  People did not suffer from back pain or a lack of fitness hundreds of years ago while wearing minimal shoes and if you think that these goofy foot pillows are a cure for either of those, you are confused.