the question, "which shoe would you recommend?" comes up A LOT.
Although we provide you with an up-to-date list of functional footwear brands, our goal is to educate you so you always know what to be looking for when evaluating your next shoe.
.. so we created the SHUB criteria to make it super easy to remember.
The foot is a powerful sensor that also has a lot of joints meant for movement. There is no other body part that has such a high level of sensory and mechanical function. In other words, they are VERY important and have to be functioning at their highest capacity for you to live a happy life.
If we can agree to everything above then it makes sense that the sole must be thin and flexible. The foot should be able to feel the ground and move naturally, rather than blindfolded (thick) and casted (stiff).
The brain relies on the body to get it places and the body relies on the feet to carry it through the environment (most of us walk on our feet and not our hands... or butts). As Zach Bitter mentioned in his podcast episode on the Joe Rogan Experience, "if the body needed a heel lift, it would have a heel lift". The body is exactly the way it needs to be without having to add external support. We were built to move optimally, straight out of the factory.
If that makes sense, then you can conclude that a heel lift will only hinder your ability to function optimally. The result is a compensation throughout the body's joints leading to wear and tear.
Continuing on the thought of natural movement, it would make sense that having a contraption on your foot that your foot has to hold on to will cause some issues. It's true. Thong sandals and slides (thongs are worse) force your foot to do things it wasn't made to do. The effect on the joints in the foot and upstream are notable (think: metatarsalgia, hammer toes and bunions).
The toes are supposed to be the widest part of the foot. They should fan out from the base of the heel like a peacock when it spreads it's tail feathers! You know why yours probably don't?
Because they've been locked away in those old foot binding contraptions that we're going to get rid of!
When selecting a shoe make sure to assess the shape of the toebox, how your toes feel in it and (if possible) put on a pair of toe spreaders to really get a feel for the space in there.
- Sole should be as thin and flexible as possible
- Heel should be at the same height as the toes
- Upper should be totally attached to the foot
- toeBox should be wide enough that your toes fit with toe spreaders
- When using shoes for high intensity activity, make sure you know what you're getting yourself into. Be honest with yourself about how ready your foot/body is to handle the intensity of movement and the terrain of choice. One of the goals is to avoid injury. If you're on-the-fence about it then bring a backup pair that you've used before. It's OK to switch if you want to complete the activity and it's even BETTER to stop if you feel uncomfortable. Be proud of where you are right now. Remember that the journey of life is long. Tomorrow is another opportunity to try to go a little farther, faster, harder, etc..
The SHUB criteria - shoe reviews