Thursday class times: 530am, 430pm, 530pm, 630pm
WOD: For time:
Kettlebell Swing @ 53/35
Box Jump @ 24/20
Check out the blog below from CrossFit Barefoot
No shoes, no problem
When you walk into Nicholas Boehmke’s box, shoes line the wall and bare feet stomp the floor. Boehmke definitely has a thing for feet — bare feet. And he thinks you should too.
“We have to get back to moving and being human beings, doing the work ourselves and not having machines do the work for us,” Boehmke says.
Boehmke, 28, is the owner of CrossFit Barefoot in Nashville, Tenn., and he’s out to fix the way people use and treat their feet. “It makes me cringe that we have shortened our leg muscles so much that we can’t move naturally,” he says.
Boehmke blames the traditional thick-soled, high-walled athletic shoe for many foot problems we see today. He founded his box based off those issues, and on the principle that barefoot training (or training in a minimalist shoe with little or no heel) is key to developing foot and ankle strength, increasing range of motion and preventing injury.
“The human foot and ankle contain a total of 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons. All movement originates from the foot and ankle,” he says. “By wearing stiff-soled shoes, the range of motion in your foot is compromised, and will therefore directly affect posture and basic functional movement. Think of wrapping your hand in saran wrap. You’re not getting the full movement of all your digits. It’s the same type of hindrance for the foot muscles and joints.”
Boehmke says the padded heels in traditional shoes cause unnatural stability and do not allow for proper strengthening of foot musculature and joints. They also keep the calf in a state of perpetual activation, which can lead to tension so severe it shortens the heel cord and causes issues in the posterior chain. He also says thick-soled shoes interfere with learning proper squat technique. “If you’re in a heeled shoe when you squat, your tendency is to immediately go onto your toes,” he says. “You can’t fully feel that heel because there’s a pad underneath it.”
Boehmke’s affinity for everything barefoot isn’t something he remembers starting at a particular time, more like it was in his nature. “I'm passionate about barefoot training because it is 100 percent natural. It's like paleo for your feet,” he says.
He also emphasizes the benefit of minimalist or barefoot running to the knees and hip joints. “Most people run with an unnatural heel strike, but immediately when you start running on the heel [in minimalist shoes] you feel the shock wave and correct your gait,” he says.
While barefoot training has become an increasingly practiced philosophy in the world of endurance running, Boehmke is entering relatively unchartered waters by making it a deliberate component of his CrossFit programming. “(In CrossFit), we’re so focused on full-depth squats and full range of motion, but we’re not getting that full range of motion in a heeled shoe,” he says.
In fact, one of the most common faults he sees among CrossFitters is bad squat form. “Poor squatting is just one example of common ankle and calf immobility. Barefoot training allows us to feel the environment and be conscious of better movement patterns,” Boehmke says.
But the transition to barefoot training must be undertaken carefully, and Boehmke is diligent about scaling his members’ transition just as he would any other workout. From the first day a new member walks into his gym, he makes them take off their shoes, but he also makes them leave their barefoot training at the gym until they’ve built the proper strength and skill. “It’s like an on-ramp program for your feet. You don’t want to jump into an Rx’d workout because you’re not capable of it yet,” Boehmke says. “It’s about watching each individual and really taking an initiative to make them responsible for their own body so they can properly progress through CrossFit.”
One athlete Boehmke now works with had eight knee surgeries before starting at CrossFit Barefoot. “He was about to schedule his ninth, and I told him to train with me for a month first,” Boehmke says. “Now he says his knees have never felt better.”
A relatively young box, CrossFit Barefoot’s membership is small, but devoted, and Boehmke isn’t concerned about scaring people off with his methods. “Everyone ends up drinking the Kool-Aid. Everyone ends up switching to a barefoot shoe, and I haven’t come across anyone who’s started barefoot training and switched back,” he says.
At the end of the day, CrossFit Barefoot’s mission is to make people better and to educate. “We are meant to move, to squat, to deadlift. These things are essential to independent living. When a doctor tells someone they can’t do a functional movement, I can’t fathom that,” he says. “I would say they need to get out and do CrossFit so they can really help their patients out.”
Boehmke’s barefoot beginnings:
1. “Start with foam rolling and mobility work to loosen up tight muscles in the lower body (calves, IT band, glutes). When foam rolling you want to find an uncomfortable spot or knot and rest on it, then continue with small 1/4" rolls to loosen the knot up.”
2. “Use the firmest foam roller you can endure, about an eight to nine on your pain threshold. I have made several extremely firm mobility rollers at my box out a four-inch PVC tube, a wrap or two of yoga mat and some duct tape.”
3. “Go through the days warm-up barefoot, in socks or minimalist shoes.”
4. “Learn to run correctly, on the balls of our feet. Having a natural running coach is beneficial here, but you can begin with a small gait and jog on the balls of your feet. As you get more comfortable, you can increase stride length and run duration