Squatting in Stilettos
Squatting in high heels---absurd, right? If you saw someone in the gym in a pair of 4 inch stilettos, you would question their sanity. But what about squatting in running shoes meant for cushioning with a soft, foamy sole? Not sure anyone would think twice, but in reality they both aren’t great choices. Our feet are full of sensory receptors that are our first point of contact with the ground. Think about when you first step on a small rock or a small little piece of plastic made by the devil, otherwise known as Legos. Every parent in the world has at one point in time stepped on these small pieces of plastic and screamed some sort of expletive. But think about the actual response our body goes through: our feet were able to feel the pressure of the lego, the pain receptor picked up that it isn’t a good feeling, and you pick your foot up before that vicious piece of plastic does any harm. Our feedback systems work to keep us out of harm’s way and tell the right systems to react properly.
Proprioception is the word we use to describe how our body senses where it is in space. “When the foot hits the ground, everything changes” is a name of a course we take which describes the theory of adaptive changes we make from the feedback to our muscles, joints, tendons and other structures when our feet hit the ground. But what happens when we dull these receptors with the cushioning of a sneaker during activities like a back squat, hop test, or deadlift? Our body doesn’t get the information it needs to make postural corrections to perform the exercise correctly, which most often leads to either overuse or increased abnormal loading before the right mechanisms kick in to keep our body from compensating .
Because they are sneakers, people don’t think about the impact they had have on their bodies sensory system. In order for us to optimally move, we need the correct input from our feet to make the necessary changes to our form. Choosing the correct footwear for your activity is an important step you shouldn’t skip. Runners don’t run in ballet flats, so why would we want to lift heavier loads while on lots of foam? Thinking this way, lifting in bare feet isn’t as crazy as it looks and actually improves your awareness and mechanics. Think about it---we would never ask Tom Brady to play with a mitten, would we? I mean, he would still win, but he would have a harder time……