In sport, the smallest details matter and athletes train meticulously for that extra centimeter that could mean the difference between winning and losing. They hire all sorts of coaches (strength, dietitian, skill specific, psychologist) for each component of their sport and training regimen.
Whatever avenue they take, it is in pursuit of a competitive advantage. While it is often overlooked, moving efficiently and having strong and durable foot/ankle mechanics is one of, if not the, biggest advantage an athlete can have.
This week we wanted to share some insight from Mark Verstegen, the Founder and President of EXOS, formerly known as Athletes Performance. EXOS is perhaps the most dominant training facility in all of sports.
He is credited with training the top draft picks in NFL, NBA, and MLB Drafts and is an advocate of barefoot training in all phases of his strength and conditioning protocols.
With over 200,000 nerve endings in each foot, it is critical that we lose the shoes and train minimally with safe progressions. As Verstegen states,
"We need to be responsible about how we introduce and transition people to restore the natural functioning of their foot"
The UFC has gone so far as to Partnering with EXOS for their approach with barefoot training and elite programming for what many consider the most demanding professional sport in existence.
Research has also confirmed that athletes whom train and compete with little to no footwear are absorbing less impact and as a result getting hurt less.
"The athletes with the greatest need for proprioception often wear the most minimal footwear, or sometimes none at all. These are martial artists, boxers, fencers, dancers, and gymnasts. While researchers have yet to compare the injury rates among these minimally shod athletes and basketball or tennis players, there is evidence that links decreased feedback with increased impact on the body."
So whether you are a high school football player, aspiring MMA fighter, or an interpretive dancer, lose the shoes when you can and we promise you will feel and perform better.