Choosing The Right Footwear for Fitness and Performance

Footwear science and footwear innovation is one of the most misunderstood areas of fitness and performance. The internet is full of articles about the best footwear, the best minimal running shoe or the perfect shoe—and it can be difficult to know who to listen to.

In our previous article, “Keeping Your Feet Healthy,” Ron Jones provided general guidelines for selecting footwear.

In this article, Emily Splichal, a podiatrist from New York, examines footwear innovation and gives more specific footwear recommendations for people from different sports or situations.

In the following article, you’ll learn:

  • How footwear science and innovation has changed over the years and where it’s heading in the future
  • The impact of these innovations on fitness and performance
  • Popular trends in fitness, running and sports performance, and the impact on footwear innovations
  • Tips on the most appropriate footwear for your clients and athletes based on foot type, injury history and the demands of the sport
  • Custom-made orthotics versus over-the-counter orthotics, and the benefits they may offer clients

About Dr. Emily Splichal

emilysplichal

Dr. Emily Splichal is a podiatrist, movement specialist and founder of the Evidence Based Fitness Academy, a Continuing Education Institute created to provide scientific and research-based curriculum for health and fitness professionals.

Footwear—Past, Present and Future

Some of the most famous footwear brands have a long history. Converse started in 1917. Adidas and Puma started in the late 1940s.

However, when you look at actual footwear innovation, you’ll see that most of it started in the 1970s, so that’s where we’ll start.

running

The popularity of running in the 1970s led to enormous changes in footwear innovation



The 1970s were an important period for footwear innovation because of the big running boom. The rise in popularity of running as an activity led to greater demand for better running shoes and encouraged the big brands to invest more in footwear innovation.

When it came to footwear research in the 1970s, Nike led the way. They spent an enormous amount of resources researching ways to reduce impact force and the risk of overuse injuries using the concept of cushioning. This brought on enormous changes in the footwear industry as more companies started to add extra cushioning to their shoes as an additional selling point.

Then came the barefoot movement of the 1990s, when researchers like Dr. Steven Robbins and Dr. Benno Nigg challenged the role of footwear in overuse injuries. Through research, they started to see how cushioning altered the way the body reacted to impact forces. And rather than preventing running injuries, cushioning could actually contribute to them.

This period from the mid 1990s to the mid 2000s became a pivotal point in footwear innovation and has profoundly impact footwear science. We see that in the minimalist shoe designs today.

The focus of footwear innovation is still on injury prevention and is likely to remain there in the near future. What we expect to see is more intelligent and sport-specific footwear designs as minimalist footwear continues to extend in the world of sports with designs specifically tailored to the demands of different sports and situations.

The Impact of Footwear on Fitness and Performance 

What is the purpose of footwear? Why do our clients and athletes even wear shoes? If going barefoot has so many advantages, why don’t we do all of our sports and workouts barefoot?

Though barefoot training has taught us a lot and has many advantages, even pro-barefoot researchers will admit that footwear still has benefits.

Shoes help protect the bottom of the foot from different surfaces and debris—important not only for safety, but also performance. The last thing we want in competition is to have a stray shard of glass or hot surface stop a crucial play.

Footwear also assists with biomechanical control, specifically to help correct overpronation, and that can decrease injury risk. We will explore this purpose further when we discuss ankle sprains.

Footwear can also improve performance. That’s right, the right footwear can actually improve athletic performance, and this becomes a very important factor for competitive and professional athletes.

Let’s look at the last two in more detail.

Biomechanical control

Can a motion-controlled shoe, or any shoe, control biomechanics? Footwear manufacturers will often add a medial posting into the shoe—a more dense material on the medial side of the heel—and it will actually block the subtalar joint from everting. This is the concept of control biomechanics, but does it actually happen?

As research and technology has advanced, studies have shown that motion-controlled shoes cannot block eversion to the necessary degree for certain runners.

Biomechanical control from just a shoe will not result in the control an overpronating runner needs. You’d probably still see pronation-related injuries such as shin splints and runner’s knee (patellofemoral pain syndrome).

What an overpronating runner likely needs is an orthotic paired with a neutral shoe. That combination will provide the necessary biomechanical control. Shifting to a mid-foot strike pattern will also help decrease the amount of pronation by increasing the plantar flexion at the ankle.

Performance

Spiked cleats are one footwear science innovation that does improve performance, specifically in sprinters. Putting spikes on sprinting shoes will definitely improve sprinting performance.

Spikes or cleats also improve an athlete’s performance in soccer and football.

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Cleats are vital to a soccer player’s on-field performance

Should runners buy ‘shock-absorbing’ shoes to prevent injuries?

I often have patients who come into my office and ask for a ‘good shock-absorbing shoe.’
Sometimes they’re training for a marathon and feel they need a shoe that’s going to help them absorb shock.

However, research has actually shown increased footwear cushioning to be harmful to a runner. Impact forces have been shown to actually increase as more cushioning is put into a shoe. A little counterintuitive, yes, but also true.

Here’s how it happens: On impact, cushioning bottoms out and increases the contact time with the ground. The increased amount of contact time is actually the thing that increases the risk of injury.

Another downside of cushioning in the shoes is increased motion within the subtalar joint. Cushioning promotes landing on an unstable surface, which creates instability of that subtalar joint, possibly increasing the injury risk in certain runners and athletes.

If you want to reduce your risk of injury, avoid ‘shock-absorbing’ shoes with lots of cushioning. Go for less cushioning to get you off the ground as fast as you can and reduce your injury risk.

Emily Splichal
http://www.dremilysplichal.com/

Footwear for different sports and activities

Let’s now consider footwear for different sports and activities. The focus on differences in footwear will assist you in guiding your clients and athletes to the most appropriate shoe for each sport or activity.

Basketball

The most common injury we see in basketball is a lateral ankle sprain. These injuries typically occur when the athlete is landing after a jump.

To minimize the chance of this happening, should these basketball players be wearing high-top or low-top basketball shoes? Can the high-top shoe prevent excessive inversion of the ankle joint?

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An example of a high-top shoe—the Nike Hyperdunk (via Nike.com)

Yes, high-tops do restrict excess ankle motion and reduce the risk of ankle sprains.

With the support of research, I encourage coaches and trainers of basketball players to do conditioning in minimal footwear, but practice and games should be in high-top shoes. The high-top sneaker is much better at restricting ankle motion than the combination of an ankle brace and a minimal shoe.

Try to keep players in a high top for basketball games, even if they want to challenge the concept of high-tops and be in a minimalist shoe for training.

The future of basketball footwear is minimal-based basketball shoes. You’ll start to see a decrease in the heel-toe drop in basketball shoes. They will continue to have high-top support for the ankles, but you’ll start to see designs with a sole and base that allows freedom of movement in the feet and greater proprioceptive input from the ground. These will all decrease reaction time and provide greater stability and control.

Running

The huge surge interest in running in the 1970s was a pivotal point in footwear research and innovation, and that interest continues today. The running market is still the largest market in the athletic footwear category. Therefore, it’s important to discuss footwear for runners.

However, we can’t discuss running footwear without mentioning the differences in striking patterns, since the strike pattern is what actually impacts running efficiency and injury risk.

According to Hasegawa’s 2007 study, 75% of runners land with a traditional heel strike pattern. 24% of runners run with a mid-foot strike pattern. The remaining 1% have a true forefoot strike pattern.

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75% of runners land with a heel-strike pattern

As you can see, the majority of runners run with a heel strike pattern. As far as impact forces and injury risk are concerned—and this is why many people start considering a change in footwear—heel-strikers measure three to four times bodyweight in ground reaction forces.

Runners who run with a mid-foot strike pattern experience the same peak of impact forces, but there are some important differences.

A heel strike impact curve records the peak vertical ground reaction forces over time, experiencing two peaks. There is an initial impact peak when the heel strikes the ground followed by an ‘active peak.’ The dropoff in the initial peak happens when the runner pronates and loads the impact forces. The second peak occurs when the runner prepares to push off from a single-leg stance in the next phase of the gait.

A mid-foot strike, on the other hand, spreads out impact forces over a greater amount of time. Instead of the two sharp peaks of a heel strike pattern, mid-foot strike patterns appear as one bell curve. That bell represents a much smoother transition and less shock to the body with each ground strike.

Since these two strike patterns are so different, we need to match the footwear to the strike pattern. This is where a lot of runners get confused.

The traditional running shoe

As mentioned previously, the traditional running shoe was created during the 1970s running boom. It has thick rear-foot cushioning followed by a hard mid-sole that extended to the sulcus of the digits. That sulcus of the digits is allowed to flex for push off and the propulsive phase of gait.

The traditional running shoe also has a harder medial side around the rear foot to control pronation. It also has a heel-toe drop of, on average, between 12 millimeters and 14 millimeters. This was initially designed in traditional running shoes because it was thought to decrease stress on the Achilles tendon.

Heel-toe drop benefits overpronators because it creates slight plantar flexion; the subtalar joint goes into inversion and the rest of the foot supinates. If you place the foot in this supinated position as you go through the gait cycle, the amount of pronation the foot goes through is decreased.

In the case of an overpronator, some heel-toe drop is actually advantageous and will decrease the risk of pronation-related injuries, such as shin splints or runner’s knee (patellofemoral pain syndrome).

Minimal running shoes

There are three subcategories of minimal running shoes: barefoot-style shoes, true minimalist shoes and transitional or neutral shoes.

The barefoot-style shoe mimics being barefoot and offers nothing but protection. There is no control of biomechanics. There is no arch or support for the foot. Xero shoes or Huarache sandals are examples of barefoot-style shoes.

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The Amuri Z-trek from Xero Shoes (via XeroShoes.com)

The second type is the true minimal or minimalist shoe. The height between the heel and the toes is between zero and three millimeters. There is essentially no drop in this type of shoe. The true minimalist shoe also offers no arch support or posting—no biomechanical control. Examples are the New Balance Minimus, SKORA running shoes, Zero Barefoots and Vibram FiveFingers.

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New Balance Minimus (via NewBalance.com)

The last type of minimal running shoe is a transitional or neutral shoe. This has a higher heel-toe drop than the previous two, but not to the extreme of a traditional running shoe. Transitional or neutral shoes have about four to eight millimeters of a drop. They have no arch support and no posting. The Nike Free is an example of a transitional or neutral shoe. Nike Free has drop points from 5mm to 3mm to 0mm to help slowly transition the athlete.

Cushioned zero drop shoes

There are now cushioned zero drop shoes on the market, referred to as maximal zero drop shoes, sometimes called fat shoes. Cushioned zero drop shoes are suitable for clients and athletes who cannot do away with the cushion. They allow us to keep that cushioning, but bring in the benefits maintaining zero drop.

Hoka is a popular cushioned zero drop, and New Balance has the Fresh Foam cushioned zero drop shoe.

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Hoka Clifton 2 (via HokaOneOne.com)

Which shoe to pick?

Given all of the information on shoe purpose, shoe design and running style, what shoes are the most appropriate for your clients and athletes? How do you determine which would be the best for them?

For heel-strike runners

With a heel-strike runner, the first thing you need to consider is the injury history. Is this person an overpronator? Has he seen a podiatrist? Does she use custom orthotics in her shoes?

If the answer is yes to any of these questions, I always steer people toward New Balance. New Balance is, by design, a slightly wider shoe. It has good control and allows an orthotic to fit perfectly.

We also need to consider foot shape. If someone has a very narrow foot, two brands you should look at are Mizuno (narrow) and Nike (narrower still). Saucony also has a bit wider shoe for the client with a wider forefoot. If the runner has a wide forefoot and a narrow heel, look at New Balance shoes.

What if someone is dedicated to a certain brand and has worn the same brand for years? If clients have never been injured and they’ve used the same brand for that many years, I usually suggest they stay with that brand.

For mid-foot strike runners

If your client is a mid-foot striker or beginning to get into a mid-foot strike pattern, first examine the injury history. If there’s any history of an Achilles tendon issues, Achilles tendonitis or a calf strain, any ankle mobility limitations or a history of stress fractures, you need to know this before determining what minimalist shoe to select.

If there’s any history of Achilles tendon issues, plan a gradual transition from a heel-toe drop of 12 millimeters down to zero.

If people have limited ankle mobility and have seen a podiatrist to try and increase ankle mobility, they may need to stay with a minimalist shoe that has a little higher heel-toe drop. I would guide them toward a brand having eight millimeters or five millimeters of drop. Nike 5.0 would be a good start. Have them work with that and if they decide to stay there, just stay there. They don’t have to be in a zero drop shoe. They can stay in a five millimeter and get that true mid-foot strike pattern.

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Nike Free 5.0 (via Nike.com)

When considering forefoot fit for people with a wider forefoot, first account for any bunions or hammertoes. If a runner or client has bunions, hammertoes or any sort of digit deformity, you may have to get them to stay away Vibram FiveFingers since their digits often won’t fit into the pockets.

The New Balance Minimus offers a very wide forefoot, as does the Vivo Barefoot; both are good choices for those looking for something a bit wider.

If the person has a narrower forefoot, the Nike Hyperfeel is a very narrow shoe.

CrossFit

CrossFit can be a high-intensity sport and a way to train the body for general physical preparedness. Many of the patterns involve Olympic lifting, whole body movements, box jumps, sports agility drills and gymnastic-type movements.

CrossFitters need a shoe to provide stability for Olympic lifting while still allowing them to perform other dynamic movements. The optimal shoe for CrossFit is stable, light and allows the foot freedom to move.

In a CrossFit gym, you’ll see both minimalist footwear and Olympic-style shoes being used. Most wear Adidas shoes for Olympic lifting, since Adidas dominates that section of footwear. The Adidas AdiStar has a heel-toe drop much like a traditional running shoe, but on more of a platform. It’s not cushioned, but has a solid heel drop to give the stability to generate the amount of power an athlete needs to do a power clean or a jerk.

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Adidas Adistar Boost (via Adidas.com)

CrossFit specific shoes are on the rise as the discipline as a whole grows in popularity.  The Reebok CrossFit Lifter is a CrossFit-specific, Olympic-style lifting shoe. It offers U-Form technology, which means the insole of the shoe can be molded to the foot, which is a stability-providing feature.

You just heat the shoe in the oven, take it out, step in it and the insole conforms to the foot. It also has the heel-toe drop you’d see in an Olympic-style shoe, but is lighter.

Reebok also has a minimalist CrossFit shoe that’s light, stable and has zero drop. It allows for dynamic movements, box jumps and bodyweight exercises without having to worry about the additional weight of the shoe.

Adidas has a PowerLift Trainer, which is very close to an Olympic-style shoe. Nike Free has a Trainer that has stability, as well as some heel drop.

Which CrossFit shoe?

First, consider your clients’ ankle mobility. This is very important, especially if moving from a traditional shoe into a CrossFit shoe.

If they’re doing a lot of box jumps, dynamic movements, sprints or powerlifting and they have poor ankle mobility, guide them towards a shoe that has lift. It doesn’t have to be a solid, stable lifter like a CrossFit Lifter—it can be a shoe like the Nike Free that has greater heel-toe drop.

A heel-toe drop will help a person get more power out of the glutes and is an advantage for powerlifting movements. Even though it’s preferred by many Olympic lifters, I don’t like this approach. I’d rather people improve ankle mobility rather than just mask the fact that they have limited ankle mobility.

This is a choice you need to make when working with your clients. Do you want to give them a shoe to generate power, or do you want to increase ankle mobility, and then develop power in that full range of motion?

Another thing to consider is foot biomechanics. If an athlete is an excessive pronator, you may need to get an orthotic in the shoe. If people are doing box jumps, dynamic movements and speed work and they’re in a minimalist shoe, they need to control the pronation. If not, it will increase the stress placed on the knees, which is not good when doing box jumps.

A minimalist shoe won’t be able to block or prevent those stresses. You can still get orthotics in a minimalist shoe. I would guide these people toward the Nike 5.0 or something that’s a little bit wider to allow an orthotic into the shoe. It will still be light, but will have room for the orthotic.

Cross training and sports conditioning

Cross trainers have traditionally been worn by people who want a single shoe to handle many different movements.

The traditional cross training shoe is heavy, bulky, and hinders the control and stability of the foot by reducing proprioceptive feedback.

If you have clients who want to be able to do jumps, jump ropes, aerobics and kettlebells with greater agility and stability, get them into a more minimal shoe. A minimal shoe will provide greater proprioceptive input and improve control and stability in their movements.

For clients and athletes who participate in multi-directional movements, be careful to select a minimal training shoe, and not a minimal running shoe.

Minimal running shoes are designed for primarily sagittal plane motion since runners typically only need to move in a forward direction. The tread and the outsole of minimal running shoes are a little different to those of a minimal training shoe, which is designed for multi-directional movement.

What are some minimal training shoes?

The New Balance HI-REZ is the most minimal New Balance shoe. It takes some getting used to, and if there’s any history of injury, I usually steer a client away from it.

The Vibram El-X is another, and it has great traction. If an athlete is loyal to the Vibram brand or likes the Five Fingers shoe, the Vibram El-X can be a good choice for cross training or sports conditioning.

Adidas offers the Adipure Trainer, another great shoe that provides the stability for cross training as well as traction for multi-directional movement.

The Nike Hyperfeel is currently my favorite shoe on the market. By design, it’s a zero drop shoe. It’s intended to be worn barefoot and fits like a second skin, so the foot and shoe are almost like one.

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Nike Hyperfeel (via Nike.com)

The Hyperfeel has a tacky Lunarlon insert, which provides considerable foot-to-insert traction and allows for multi-directional movements with constant input from the bottom of the foot. The outer sole has traction that allows for multi-directional movement and provides greater proprioceptive feedback and foot mobility.

Fitness and toning shoes

Fitness or toning shoes, also known as rocker shoes, are shoes supposedly designed to help people tone their legs and glutes. In the past, these shoes were often surrounded by false advertising and creative marketing, which left a bad taste in the mouths of many people and ruined this sector of footwear innovation and science.

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Skechers toning shoe (via SheKnows.com)

But do rocker shoes have any use? To answer that question, let’s first look at where the concept of rockers came from.

Rockers have actually been used in podiatry for years. We have rockers in the gait cycle; we have natural rockers in our foot and ankle. We have a heel rocker and a forefoot rocker.

Due to injury, aging or disease, we sometimes start to lose these natural rockers, which in turn alters gait.

Losing range of motion in the big toe joint is the best example. Running is a sagittal plane motion. Runners need range of motion in that great toe joint, but if they create pain in the great toe joint, the body puts extra bone down to limit the range of motion of that joint. When they lose the range of motion of the great toe joint, they alter the gait pattern by shortening the stride and abducting the feet.

A shortened stride decreases glute activation. The person then becomes hip-flexor dominant, which destabilizes the SI joint as well as the lower back. The runner may then start presenting with lower back pain.

A forefoot rocker on the shoe can help this. It forces sagittal plane motion without dorsiflexing the digits—so the person rolls over the rocker rather than flexing over the digits. This helps people return to a normal sagittal gait pattern with adequate hip extension. The glutes can start firing again and all the muscles that are supposed to be stabilizing the body will start firing properly again.

As you can see, rockers, when used correctly, can actually be very beneficial for people who are starting to get great toe arthritis.

If you have runners who don’t want to give up running despite pain in the big toe joint, get them in a rocker that will allow the inflammation of that joint to decrease. When they run again, they won’t have that pain. It’s almost like saving the flexions of the digit for their sport.

I also use rockers with dancers. Professional dancers spend a lot of time barefoot, especially with certain types of dance, so I’ll get these dancers in a forefoot rocker. Again, this is saving their flexions for their art.

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Rockers can be helpful for dancers

Forefoot rockers are also helpful for anyone who stands for prolonged periods of time because they help shift the pressure. When standing in Skechers or ShapeUps, for example, there’s a continuous shift in pressure. Standing all day can cause stiffness and pain from the bottom of the feet all the way up into the lower back. Wearing a rocker sole shoe alleviates a lot of the constant pressure placed on the feet and in the lower back.

Tennis

Minimal-based shoes are also entering the tennis market for the same reason as they are in the basketball market. Minimal-based soling provides better proprioceptive input, which is helpful for the rapid change of direction needed in a game of tennis. Minimal shoes provide this benefit while still providing the traction a tennis player needs.

Orthotics

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The Synxsole Orthotic (via Synxsole.com)

No footwear lecture can be complete without discussing the benefits and roles of orthotics for our clients and athletes.

There are two ways to get control out of an orthotic: rearfoot control or forefoot control.

Rearfoot control counters excessive pronation or eversion of the subtalar joint or controls excessive supination or inversion of the subtalar joint.

Rearfoot control is done through what’s called posting. Little wedges are put in the posterior aspect of the orthotic to block the subtalar joint from collapsing into eversion, or prop up the foot, pushing it out of supination.

A deep heel seat in the rearfoot will give stability to the athlete who has repetitive ankle sprains. A deep heel seat and dispersion pads for clients with a heel spur are the primary rearfoot modifications and controls.

The front of the orthotic, or the forefoot control, is where we’re able to control and off-load the sesamoid. We can use an orthotic to take pressure off that area for anyone with a sesamoid fracture or sesamoiditis. For metatarsalgia or ‘ball of foot pain,’ we can off-load the met heads, any neuromas, painful calluses or IPKs.

That’s how orthotics play a role in controlling these forefoot dysfunctions or deformities.

There are two types of orthotics: over-the-counter inserts and custom-made orthotics.

Over-the-counter orthotics

None of the over-the-counter inserts, Powerstep, Spenco, Lynco and others, are ever going to provide the control of a custom device.

There have been advances in over-the-counter inserts, and Dr. Scholl’s and other companies are now providing scanning technology to determine an individual’s pressure map. These fit people into templates, such as flat foot, neutral and high arch.

However, those templates are never specific enough to control movement if someone requires true biomechanical control. Remember that foot imbalances or dysfunctions are difficult to assess by standing on a scanning device. A person really needs a full biomechanical exam to create an effective orthotic.

Over-the-counter inserts are best for clients and athletes who have very mild foot pain or very mild foot imbalances, because they’re not going to require the control that can only be provided by a custom orthotic.

Over-the-counter orthotics are also made with cheaper materials, and many of them actually bottom out. If the client has heel pain and wants a gel insert, test that gel. If it bottoms out when you squeeze with your fingers, it’s bottoming out when the client stands on it. People won’t be  getting any benefit from that insert.

Custom orthotics

Custom-made orthotics fall into two categories. One is a true orthotic that controls biomechanics, and the other is called an accommodative. The latter is essentially an impression of the foot type that redistributes pressure to make the wearer more comfortable.

The U-Form technology in the Reebok CrossFit Lifter is an accommodative orthotic that redistributes pressure, providing the sensation of increased comfort and increased stability.

When should you use a custom orthotic?

Let’s take the case of the mid-foot runner. Since a mid-foot runner never really strikes the heel on the ground, custom orthotics that control the rearfoot are useless. Runners who have forefoot issues, however, can benefit from custom orthotics. These orthotics can help manage neuromas, a plantarflexed first ray, sesamoiditis or painful calluses.

Even in minimal shoes, you can off-load those hot spots with a custom orthotic.

If somebody with excessive pronation is doing cross training or CrossFit and wants to wear a minimal shoe, you can put an orthotic into the shoe to improve control.

I design and make low-profile orthotics for cross trainers or CrossFit athletes. The athletes continue to have the freedom they like in the minimal shoe, while excessive pronation is controlled and prevented with a low-profile orthotic.

Tennis or basketball players with excessive pronation or repetitive ankle sprains should look at orthotics with a deep heel seat.

This article was adapted from Emily Splichal’s lecture: Footwear for Fitness and Performance.

For more from Emily Splichal, visit her site at Evidence Based Fitness Academy.

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If you enjoyed this article on selecting the right footwear for fitness and performance, here are some other great resources to optimize other important parts of your programming:

Movement

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If you’re looking for the missing puzzle piece to help protect your clients from future injury and to eliminate the roadblocks that hold them back from greater performance, you’ll find Gray Cook’s Functional Movement System as detailed inside the Movement book invaluable.

Inside you’ll discover a system that not only helps you screen and assess a person’s movement quality, but also a system that helps you identify the corrective strategies needed to help protect your clients from injury and help them move better.

If you’ve ever wanted to—

  • understand why people get injured, and why their pain keeps returning
  • improve your patient’s recovery process
  • give people a strong foundation before loading them with weights
  • eliminate training mistakes that delay results
  • improve your client’s chances of making it through the athletic season without suffering a non-contact injury
  • restore the quality life in people who have suffered in pain due to movement problems
  • build more functional, longer lasting athletes
  • avoid frustrations and improve patient outcomes when working with other healthcare and fitness professionals by learning a standardized language to communicate

… then Gray’s Functional Movement System outlined in Movement may be just what you need.

Click here to learn more about Movement.

Assessing Movement

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Though the FMS and SFMA have been both been the subject of academic research for years, there still remains a lot of debate and controversy behind the validity and value of a quick and general tool like the FMS, especially for injury prediction.

In particular, many people have highlighted a supposed difference in approach to screening, assessment and spine stabilization between Gray Cook and Stuart McGill, one of the world’s leading low back experts.

Craig Liebenson realized this, and proposed for these two giants in the field to present their approaches, clarify their positions and critically analyze the FMS.

The result is what you’ll find inside Assessing Movement: A Contrast in Approaches & Future Directions.

In the Assessing Movement DVD—

  • Gray explains the principles, intent and incorrect assumptions people make about the FMS
  • Stuart reviews the literature surrounding the FMS, and highlights areas of agreement and disagreement
  • Stuart outlines his approach to assessments in Developing the Ideal Screen or Assessment
  • Gray demonstrates the FMS tests, and Stuart demonstrates some of the assessment tools he uses with clients
  • Craig discusses the history of human movement in medicine and patient care
  • Gray and Stuart take questions about both their methods
  • …and much more

Click here to learn more about Assessing Movement.

Advances in Functional Training

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Over the past 30 years, Michael Boyle has coached athletes in every major collegiate and professional sport. His clients have come from the MLS, MLB, NHL, NFL, PGA, Olympic teams and many others.

In Advances in Functional Training, Mike unveils the insights he’s learned about training  athletes in all major sports, from the junior level, all the way up to the professional level.

Advances in Functional Training is a comprehensive guide that brings together a volume of information on current athletic training trends and concepts. Inside you’ll get the latest insight from a top coach who’s spent decades carefully thinking about and testing better ways to train his clients and athletes.

You’ll learn how to—

  • Reduce and prevent common problems like low back pain, knee pain, neck and shoulder pain by identifying compensations, improving mobility and flexibility and focusing on movement patterns
  • Minimize the risk of common injuries like lifting-related back injuries, tendinitis, upper-body injuries, ACL injuries and sports hernias
  • Unlock greater power and performance by learning how to properly train the hips and core
  • Help your athletes stay in top shape all season long with the right conditioning methods in the preseason, offseason and inseason
  • Develop explosiveness to improve forty-yard dash times and overall game speed
  • Select the right equipment for your gym room—Mike gives his recommendations of the equipment you do and don’t need to improve strength, conditioning and overall athleticism
  • Select the right exercises for your athletes—Learn to pick the exercises that have the biggest payoff and minimum risk
  • Build safer, more effective programs for your athletes—Mike provides insight into how to program for speed, power, strength, hypertrophy, and more. He even gives sample programs and templates so you can see how he puts programs together, so you can go from there to build your own.

… and much more.

Whether you train elite athletes looking for an extra edge in performance without compromising safety, or everyday men and women looking to maximize their time in the gym so they can enjoy their life outside of it…

…If you’re a serious coach or trainer always looking for a better and safer way to train the people you work with, Advances in Functional Training is a “must have” resource to add to your library.

Click here to learn more about Advances in Functional Training.

Essentials of Coaching and Training Functional Continuums

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There is no question that tapping into the right movement can radically change an athlete.

In Essentials of Coaching and Training Functional Continuums, Gray Cook and Dan John demonstrate the approach you need to identify—and fix—hidden weaknesses in your training programs that are holding back the athletes you coach.

They’ll show you how to take information from assessments and categorize your training priorities to ensure there are no holes in the athletic base. They’ll help you make sure you’re working on the activities that will give you a bigger return on athletic performance.

You’ll learn—

  • Exercise choices for power, work capacity and metabolic load
  • How to evaluate movement health, competency, capacity and complexity
  • The difference between an exercise continuum and a training progression
  • Minimum standards to progress, hold or regress
  • When to correct and when to coach
  • The metrics of the 4 Bs—Breathe, Bend, Balance, Bounce
  • What it means to play, practice or train, and who needs which
  • Postures and patterns, and drills to develop both

Click here and learn more about the Essentials of Coaching and Training Functional Continuums.

 

Key Functional Exercises You Should Know

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In Key Functional Exercises You Should Know, Gray Cook shows us how to use the right exercise to get results for clients, in less time and with less work. He’ll bring you clarity in the corrective hierarchy.

He’ll show you what he considers the key exercises that stand out in a library of functional exercise options, and describes when to use each, and how to modify them for your clients.

In the DVD, Gray will explore—

  • His three key functional exercises: the chop and lift, the Turkish getup, and the deadlift
  • The hierarchy of these exercises: which to work on first for the quickest results
  • Gray’s favorite regressions and progressions on each exercise, and when to use each
  • The subtle verbal coaching cues he uses to maintain correct alignment and stability through the movements
  • What most people do incorrectly on the movements and how to coach and correct them (he coaches these in live demonstrations)
  • and much more

You’ll finish knowing how to use these key exercises as functional and corrective tools with your clients, so you’ll never again be stuck using ineffective corrective exercises that don’t actually help your clients improve.

Click here to learn more about Key Functional Exercises You Should Know.

Fat Loss Happens on Monday

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With decades of experience of coaching others, Josh Hillis and Dan John give a clear, simple and doable roadmap to strip away the fat—and more importantly, to keep it off.

  • The eleven habits of people who successfully get and stay lean
  • Six unique habit strategies to suit your different needs at different times, and stop you from stalling
  • Advanced carb-cycling strategies to help break through fat-loss plateaus
  • 18-week Pull Your Weight program designed to help you lose fat with workouts that challenge, but don’t overtax your body
  • Two 8-week Bring It! programs for when you have a wedding, anniversary, reunion, photoshoot, or other important event coming up and need to lose fat, fast
  • 60 lower body, upper body, and total body exercises fully illustrated and explained

Click here to learn more about Fat Loss Happens on Monday.

Applying the FMS Model to Real Life Examples

Gray Cook Applying the FMS Model

If you—

  • know how to coach specific exercises, but aren’t always sure how to PICK the right exercises for your clients
    want to learn how to correctly screen clients across a wide variety of backgrounds so you can establish a baseline and build a corrective strategy
    are familiar with the Functional Movement Screen (FMS), but are looking for a greater understanding of how to apply it correctly with your clients and use it to develop programming unique to each person

… then you’ll love this presentation by Gray Cook and Brett Jones.

In Applying The Model To Real Life Examples, Gray Cook and Brett Jones will speed you through the learning curve and show you how to apply the FMS like a veteran.

They explain the important concepts behind the FMS. But where you’ll really find the most value is when they pick people from different backgrounds, take them through the FMS screen, and then make corrective and programming recommendations—explaining each step and their thought process along the way.

Click here to learn more about Applying the FMS Model to Real Life Examples.

Intervention

Dan John Intervention Video

In Intervention, Dan John explains the system he developed over the course of 35 years of training and coaching athletes. The Intervention system consists of 10 questions and 5 principles that can completely change the way you work with clients.

In this book, you’ll learn about—

  • The Four Quadrants for assessing and training athletes
  • How to get to Point B: Ten essential questions to help every athlete or trainee get to where they want to be
  • Step-by-step progressions for the five fundamental human movements that make up a person’s athletic base
  • The five principles of effective program design
  • Applying the Intervention system to real athletes and trainees
  • Training year-round: Smart programming to minimize burnout and maximize long-term results
  • Applying the Intervention approach to diet and nutrition
  • …and much more.

You’ll walk away armed with a toolkit that will help you train any client, from sedentary elderly people, to 40-year-old moms, and high school or professional athletes.

Click here to learn more about Intervention.

Pain

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In his video presentation, Pain, Lorimer provides a current state-of-the-art, scientifically backed, straight-forward description of how pain works. You’ll learn what you need to know and do to manage it, and how to help your patients recover normal function.

In this 140-minute DVD, Lorimer explores—

  • The traditional yet erroneous understanding of pain
  • How pain actually works: the concept of neurotags that integrate the last 50 years of experimental and clinical pain research
  • The cortical body matrix theory: a model for understanding research from the last 5-10 years on chronic pain disorders

…and much more

Click here to learn more about Pain.

Tap Into the Brains of Some of the World’s Leading Performance Experts

FREE Access to the OTP Vault

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Inside the OTP Vault, you’ll find over 20 articles and videos from leading strength coaches, trainers and physical therapists such as Dan John, Gray Cook, Michael Boyle, Stuart McGill and Sue Falsone.

Click here to get FREE access to the On Target Publications vault and receive the latest relevant content to help you and your clients move and perform better.

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