We get asked the question all the time- “What are the best shoes for CrossFit?” Unfortunately there really isn’t a “one-size fits all” answer. Shoes are a very individual piece of equipment and what works for one person may not work for others. But, there are some general guidelines that can work for most people that we will review below. (Note: In this article, we are just considering sneakers, not Olympic lifting shoes.)
Shoes can be categorized by their amount of “drop”. The drop of a shoe measures the difference between the height of the heel and the height of the forefoot.
A traditional running shoe has a high drop of approximately 8mm while the newer generations of minimalist shoes have anywhere from a 0 to 4mm drop. These lower drop shoes help you feel the ground underneath you and they help distribute your weight evenly across the sole- exactly what you need when lifting and squatting. Generally speaking, a good shoe for CrossFit will fall somewhere between 0-4mm. The shoe should provide stability during a lift, yet still be slightly cushioned for running, box jumps and double-unders.
We also hear, “But my old school running shoes are so cushiony and soft…”
The traditional style running shoe with a higher drop that has a sole filled with foam, gel, cushion etc., might absorb some impact while running, but also promotes a heel strike which has been shown to result in many types of running injuries. (We could branch off into a whole other topic of proper running technique here, but will save that for another time.) While you are lifting, cushiony soles compress and absorb the force generated against the floor instead of directing it towards the weight being lifted which is not ideal. Squishy soles are also less stable and make it difficult to balance under heavy weight. A flatter soled shoe will help you use the force of the ground while lifting rather than having to battle the shoe AND the weight you are trying to lift.
Lastly, many of the new shoes out there that are specifically designed for CrossFit or “functional fitness” also come with built in rope climb protection/support. This is an added bonus that should be considered when deciding on a shoe.
There are many great shoes out there to choose from- Nike Metcon, inov-8 and Reebok Nano to name a few. We all have our individual preferences on styles and types of shoes so if you have any questions, feel free to ask any of the staff or coaches.