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If The Shoe Fits – Optimize It

    You spend countless hours correcting sport specific form and movements in your athletes yet we find that overall observation and refinement of core mechanics, like running, jumping, and other movements gets very little attention. Today I want to focus on feet but the principles can apply to the rest of the body as well. 

    When the HeatCheck team is working with an athletic program one of the big disconnects we often see is between the training/medical staff, the performance staff, and the strength and conditioning staff. 

    • Trainers tend to only examine an athlete’s movements when there’s pain.
    • Performance staff tends to only focus on the sport specific skill movements.
    • Strength and conditioning staff tend to focus on measurable results like time and effort

    To maximize performance and reduce injury these three functions need to work together because every athlete is different and it starts at the feet. Here are two things you can implement in your program. 

    Shoe Selection

    Are your athletes wearing the right shoes? Most programs are leaving it up to the athlete to select which shoes to wear for training and for competition but even a little bit of cooperation with trainers and equipment staff can yield better performance and reduction in injury for your entire roster. 

    Let’s take basketball players and their shoes as a case study. The vast majority of players will wear the same model of shoe for practice as they do for games but those two activities are very different in terms of what is needed out of a shoe. During a three hour practice, especially in the pre-season, a basketball player will need much more cushion out of a shoe than during a game simply because they will spend more time on their feet and experience far more impact over the course of practice than a game. Should a player wear the same model for practice as a game? We should learn from runners on this one who all train and race in different shoes. We are often recommending players wear the most cushion available to them, and that works with their feet, for those long and tough practices and save the lightweight shoe for game day. 

    Shoe Examination

    Periodically the training staff should examine shoes that have enough wear on them to provide insight into a player’s foot mechanics. This can provide clues as to whether the athlete is in the right model for their mechanics and playing style. It can give an early warning to bad mechanics that could lead to possible injury. It can also provide a story of how the athlete’s mechanics are changing as you examine shoes throughout the season and/or their college career. 

    Staff should be looking for signs of over/under pronation and over/under supination which is often easy to see in the wear to a shoe’s sole. Various issues can be corrected with different shoes, insoles, tape, and exercises targeting the problem. 

    These two strategies can be applied to all sports and can be implemented immediately and with very little cost. This is a clear competitive advantage programs should be leveraging. 

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    You asked and we answered. A large number of coaches reached out asking what we could accomplish in a single day of working with their staff so we have assembled a slate of options that we can tailor to your needs. Reach out to us here and we will schedule a call to see how we can help.