Monday, March 28, 2011

Adidas Copa Soccer Shoes

In my ongoing quest for Foot Fitness, I was chatting with my neighbor Fernando the other week about soccer shoes.  Fernando grew up with soccer so knows a lot about the game, coaching, and other issues related to potential soccer injuries.  I was telling him about how flexible shoes are better for feet which caused him to mention the Adidas Copa Mundial soccer shoes.  He told me when kids have feet problems, they put them into the Adidas Copa shoes, and nearly always the foot pain goes away! Why? Apparently the Adidas Copa is more flexible than many of the newer soccer shoes available--not only the actual soles but also the upper materials since they are made with kangaroo leather. Additionally, the cleats in the Copa are a bit shorter which is better for us in SoCal or Central California where we have much drier climates with harder grass--apparently, the shorter cleat reduces the force into the bottom of foot from what the players report.  The reviews are interesting. People swear by these shoes in terms of comfort and performance--even some Pros.

I thought the Adidas Copa soccer shoes were a good find for overall foot fitness since I have so many clients with kids that play lots of soccer.  If your child is having problems with feet, ankles, and even knees or more up above, you might consider switching to this old school shoe model that has been around unchanged since 1979. If it's been around that long with the same design, it must be worth wearing!

In Foot Fitness, Coach RJ

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Toning Shoes

Our suspicions on the new “toning” shoe craze has been confirmed! A new scientific study with proper design has been published by the American Council on Exercise (ACE). There is no scientific evidence to support that wearing these shoes will enhance your fitness. The concerns with the shoes for the researchers and myself is that they will alter your walking gait making you walk worse—not better.

It’s a great review with nice graphs. Check it out.

Walk well and walk simply. The answer is not in more technology—but less as in correcting the neurological and biomechanical function in your feet and ankles—fancy shoes can never do what the foot can do alone.

Will Toning Shoes Really Give You A Better Body? (ACE)

*At the end of the article, ACE recommends carrying “hand weights” if you want to rev up your walks or wearing one of the new weight vests. I have not recommended hand weights for years because it can greatly alter your gait in a negative way—creating issues with your “back force transmission” as force travels off the ground and up one leg then across the body into the opposing arm and shoulder. Again—just walk—simply. If you can truly walk well, then yes, think about using a vest if you need more load for an upcoming mountain hike or backpacking trip—or just need more metabolic load for weight loss and fitness, but first, just walk! If you load a poor gait or walking problem with “more weight,” the problem will get worse and not better.
In Foot Fitness, Coach RJ

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


So the story goes I was sitting in Denny's eating my oatmeal while working on the road this week.  The lady next to me was going on and on about the hassles of life and health insurance in her senior years. The guy across the table was asking her how she even got health and life insurance because of her own health status. Apparently she had a heart attack then had to have a coronary artery stint put in to pry open her clogged arteries. Then I look over on my table and see this sign about "Baconalia!" which basically glorifies the same diet and lifestyle that caused the lady's heart attack sitting next to me.

It amazes me what a disconnect people have in America between THEIR health and THEIR OWN behaviors! The best person to take care of your health is YOU--not doctors or drug companies.

I just read a study basically saying that Americans have no clue how to be healthy. I tend to believe it when having an experience like this week at Denny's. I keep going back to simplification. Why? Because far too many people are still clueless about the BASICS of health.

Health Lesson of the Day: Buying into the BS "Baconalia" at Denny's is not good for you.  Not only are you eating way too much fat, but in that fat, there are many stored toxins not to mention all the sodium and other preservatives. Would an occasional serving of bacon kill you? No. Would a life of Baconalia! improve the quality of your health and the increase the strength of America? No.

Next time I eat there, I think I'll take my Sharpie and add this to the sign so it reads: "BEWARE OF THE Baconalia!"

Oh...guess what the woman was eating that had the heart attack, coronary stint, and insurance problems?  Bacon.

Keeping it real--simple, Coach RJ

Thursday, March 17, 2011

New Balance Minimus Trail Shoes

My hiking friend Susie showed up with some cool new shoes she said her feet loved called New Balance Minimus Trail runners (Also available in road versions, but I'm addressing the trail model only). I went out the very next day to purchase my own pair. Her husband Jim bought some the next day too. Our feet LOVED them on the first step! The shoes cost around $100. They run slightly narrow. Men's come in the charcoal black and neon yellow above plus an orange version. Women's offer a black and baby blue trim model.

The New Balance Minimus "Trail" fits my criteria for foot-friendly shoes. It's a very flexible shoe with minimal heel lift. Less heel lift is important for the "barefoot" mechanics because it allows your foot to function like it does not have a shoe--more "natural" gait pattern. While I love the Nike Free shoes, some of the purist runners are critical of the Free's high heel lift which puts the foot and ankle slightly out of neutral--I get their point, but the Nike Free still works GREAT to eliminate foot pain with my clients, so I will continue recommending them. Alas, now there is another new option with the New Balance Minimus Trail shoes!

The Minimus Trail feels almost just like the Vibram Five Fingers (VFFs) but you won't have to worry about wearing the funky "toe shoes" with the Minimus because the toe box is closed. With the Minimus, many people can get away with wearing them in a work environment where the VFFs might be a bit much for certain corporate cultures at this point. Another advantage of the NB Minimus is that you can wear socks. While wearing socks is possible with the VFFs, you have to buy the special "toe socks" and these are a real pain to put on and get into the VFFs. If you don't wear socks with VFFs, you can get some pretty stinky feet. Problem solved with the New Balance Minimus because while they might not be 100% as foot friendly as going barefoot or wearing VFFs, they are pretty darn close, and when you consider the other advantages of a more socially acceptable appearance, ability to wear regular socks, and ease of putting on and taking off, the New Balance Minimus Trail Runners one of my new favorites and top recommendations for "foot-friendly" shoes. They are also very light. 

While called "trail running" shoes, I'm just wearing my Minimus shoes for casual use. I might try to run in them eventually, but I think these are GREAT shoes for everyday use. If you are having foot pain from wearing shoes that are not good neurologically for your feet and brain, take the New Balance Minimus Trail Shoes for a test drive. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. Listen to your feet--they will tell you right away!

What's interesting about this particular shoe is that even with all my other "foot fitness" exercises, footwear, etc., for some reason these shoes seem to have reset my "foot posture."  I have become much more aware of my foot/ankle position even when wearing other shoes.  I think part of the reason was the nice "Foot Tripod" video post by Mike Robertson right before I got my Minimus shoes, but most of the postural reset is because of the shoe design I think...I have four good friends now that have all loved the Minimus from the very first step.  One of my good trainer friends Nikki has had some running issues with her knee.  She got a pair of the Minimus and hit the trail with NO knee pain.  She put on some different boots when she got home and the knee pain returned.  She was amazed as well, and this is a woman very knowledgeable about fitness training and corrective exercises, so I hope this share will help some of you reading that might be having foot issues of your own.

For more info on the NB Minimus and finding "Foot-Friendly" shoes, see below:
In Foot Fitness! Coach RJ

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Foot Tripod

Sometimes it's best to take a "step" back and simplify.  We've been talking about foot fitness for years, but I wanted to pass this really short video by Mike Robertson on the "Foot Tripod."  While I've known about the foot needing to sit flat on the ground with the arch lifted for years, I never thought about the foot as a simple tripod.  I've heard yoga instructors talk about points of contact, but this video really made it all come full circle..

If you've been following along and benefiting from the foot fitness stuff, I think you'll get something out of the video.  Mike is one of the top corrective exercise guys around.  I've been following his podcasts and materials for over a year now and am flying back east to work with him in April at a special workshop.  Great guy.  He keeps it simple-and effective. 

From the ground up-with Tripod!
Coach RJ

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Working HARD

My endurance sport promoter friend Chris Kostman of AdventureCORPS used this quote earlier today, and it got me thinking…
"We choose to go to the moon, and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard." -- John F. Kennedy, Sept. 12, 1962

You have a different gear for fitness? Great. I’m all for it. On that note, sometimes we work and work very hard. There is nothing wrong with hard work in fitness. Sometimes we can all get too carried away with all the corrective exercises, therapy exercises, and in the process, the “work” part gets eroded into some other place.

One thing I really learned while watching the US Marine Corps Volkslauf Mud Run last year was how much people “enjoyed” doing something so hard—brutally hard—with vicious intensity at times required!!! It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t perfect. Technically speaking, many of the people there probably should NOT have done the event, yet most of the people there DID the event and did not get hurt. That was a “real-world” lesson for me…it really made an impression to witness that event. I was pretty happy about it to tell you the truth—and inspired to do more work with folks.

On this note, let’s get to work—and sometimes this should mean HARD WORK. Lots of sweating. Lifting heavy stuff. Pulling heavy stuff. Throwing heavy stuff. Steep dusty trails. Grueling yoga postures. Long leg searing bike rides. Soaring heart rates…yeah…real work…not “foo foo” fitness. Correctives? Sure. We’ll do as much as we can as fast as we can for safety, but remember, the less you work, the less you can work…this reminds me of the Jack LaLanne quote too, “Anyone can die. You have to work at living!”

When people in my business examine movements from days past, some of our best athletes today could not do them. Why? We don’t move as well; we don’t work as hard; we are not as healthy as a society as we were a hundred years ago when it comes to hard core fitness. My college football guys in early season cannot even do a proper push up! Fitness people of yesteryear routinely performed lifts like the windmill, bent press, and many others. It was just what they did. The same guys lifted full lives and stayed in shape to the very end. Today? These lifts are rare because most people cannot to do them anymore.

I’ve been having conversations about this topic with my fitness friends too. It’s time to get to work again! Last night on the news they were saying that 75% of youth cannot pass the Army fitness requirements and that our obesity and lack of fitness is now a national security issue—I heard the same thing from my Army recruiter friend last year and from others in the military I have met over the years. Enough! It takes real work to make big changes. We might as well get started and get over it…you might even like it once you get to the other side. :o)

Light duty work is fine. Will it make significant changes? Probably not. Is light work good? Yes. Is light work great for ramping fitness and dropping significant weight? No. If you want to live a vigorous life—get busy and work hard so it becomes a reality…no time like the present.

For an interesting look into the past so we can hopefully have a future in “strength and vigor” at least remotely close to previous generations, check out some examples on Old Time Strongman’s post about physical training in 1899. Pay careful attention to their focus on “whole body” movements and “strength” with the emphasis upon “vigorous” work—yes—WORK! The photos of old gyms and exercises fascinate me—lots of ropes (not just jumping ropes but “climbing” ropes), Indian Clubs, kettlebells, gymnastic type exercises, rowing machines, bars and old school looking weight plates…and remember…they were VERY fit and stayed fit.

Some of the best minds and bodies today in American fitness are saying that we need to get back to these types of movements—some of them should at least be options for many of you reading this post. We are using some right now—Indian Clubs, kettlebells, ropes, sandbags, and some suspension work with the TRX too plus body weight exercises.  

In Sweat, Coach RJ