Rate Your Shoe

By Dr. Lon Kilgore

In Equipment

January 28, 2011

PDF Article

The “perfect shoe” may not exist, so Dr. Lon Kilgore offers up a system designed to help you select the best footwear for any sport.

There has been a tremendous amount of online chatter about what shoe to wear while CrossFitting. Hundreds and hundreds of expert and not-so-expert opinions are floating around the Internet. This person recommends one model and brand of shoe because he or she likes it. This person recommends this shoe for running, this shoe for lifting, and this shoe something else. This person says not to wear shoes at all.

Who is right?

As opinion-rich as this area is, we have very little objective data about what the perfect exercise shoe is like. This is the Holy Grail of exercise footwear: the elusive multi-purpose exercise shoe. What is presented here is a simple means of selecting the correct shoe for your training, a more formalized and quantifiable version of my advice to trainees for the past two decades. Its intent is twofold:

1. Make the consumer non-reliant on the advice of random experts.
2. Give exercise professionals a framework to help them develop a means of identifying shoes to recommend to their trainees and provide these trainees with a compelling rationale as to why they need them.



8 Comments on “Rate Your Shoe”


wrote …

makes good sense!


wrote …

The New Balance MT-101, an ultra lightweight trail shoe, scores very well here. I tried a pair of Inov-8s, but they were too mushy during the side-loads induced during Oly. The Rockstop™ layer on the bottom of the New Balance make them rigid enough for CrossFit, and keeps the midfoot from shredding during multiple rope climbs. Like most of my running shoes, I bought them 1/2 size larger than my street shoes.


wrote …

Thanks Dr. Kilgore! I throughly enjoy this article and the creation of a standard for footwear. It will affect my future footwear purchases.


wrote …

I thought it was interesting to see that a weightlifting shoe had a desired elevation of 2, whereas a powerlifting shoe warranted a 4. Shouldn't these be reversed?


wrote …

I've also seen Inov-8's get hammered by rope climbs. The sole gets filed away by them.


replied to comment from Benjamin Moskowitz

Hi, Benjamin.

You are correct that you would want a flatter shoe for powerlifting.

In Dr. Kilgore's system, a rating of 2 indicates more elevation ("1" would indicate a significant heel), while a 4 indicates less elevation ("5" would indicate a flat heel).

CrossFit Journal


wrote …

I love love LOVE the New Balance 100's...well, now the 101, but it's basically the same exact shoe. I also love Nike's Waffle Racer/Jana Star. These two are pretty much the same, but for women, with the Jana Star, they can have women's sizing and not have to deal with the unisex sizing. I love using cross country flats like the ones I used in high school races for CrossFit especially in WODs with running in them-they're shoes that are meant for running, but yet they're flat. Mizuno Wave Rider and Mizuno Musha are great as well although the Riders do tend to have a little more heel than what's ideal, but it's not bad. I am also a fan of the LunaRacer from Nike-they do have some padded heels but they are super light, and I find that for racing, for me anyway, even if I try to use the POSE method, if I'm still starting to get tired I slip and end up running on my heels a little bit, so I feel like this has the right amount of cushioning for "bad" form without being too bulky.


replied to comment from Michael Warkentin

Hi Mike,

The "rating scheme" table on page two says that 1 is an elevated heel and 5 is a flat heel.
The description for Anterior-Posterior elevation on page three says flat heel is scored as 1 and a height of 3.75 cm is a 5.

Can you confirm which scheme was used for the Template Profiles table on page four?

Thank you,

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