On Tuesday, Aug. 23, STACK was in New York City to test the soon-to-be released adidas adiPure barefoot training shoe. Billed as the first minimalist shoe designed specifically for the gym, the shoe is said to promote pure movement by harnessing the body's natural mechanics, thus strengthening muscles, improving balance and promoting dexterity.
We sat down with U.S. Women's Soccer midfielder Heather O'Reilly, New York Giants rookie wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan and Mark Verstegen, founder and owner of Athletes' Performance, to get their thoughts on the new shoe, including how it improves athletic training and performance.
"A lot of engineering went into making your foot a high performance machine," said Verstegen. "To achieve your full potential during a workout, focus on how your foot interacts with the ground in the same way you think about how your hand interacts with a ball or a bat. Using your foot's natural power and movement will help you strengthen muscles you never knew you had in your feet, lower legs and throughout your core."
To put these claims to the test, we put on a pair of adiPure Trainers and went through a few exercises alongside O'Reilly and Jernigan, coached by Verstegen. We immediately felt the muscles in our feet and lower legs engage. Being "barefoot" provided an extra challenge to maintaining stability. Both Jernigan and O'Reilly commented that incorporating lower-body exercises into their workouts helped them build stronger feet, allowing them to last longer on the field.
Advocates of barefoot training believe that by strengthening the lesser muscles of the feet and lower legs, it reduces the risk of injury on the field. According to Verstegen, the high level of support provided by traditional shoes actually weakens those muscles in the feet, which is why you see more high ankle sprains today than you did decades ago.
Overall, we enjoyed our demo of the adiPure Trainers, and we will definitely include them in our workouts. We highly recommend checking them out for yourself when they hit the market this November. However, heed this cautionary advice from Verstegen: don't go too hard your first time out, because your feet aren't conditioned to the added stress. Ease into the barefoot trainers with some basic exercises, like rocking back and forth, skipping and bounding.
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