Wednesday, December 7, 2011

inov-8 Evoskin Shoe Review

This isn't about our ancestor's or cavemen... 
I want to make something clear before you begin reading my shoe (well, maybe lack thereof is more apropos) review: This is not a review on the validity that 'traditional' running shoes cause, or do not cause, injuries. It's my belief that the repetition of running form inefficiencies (biological or habitually developed) are the major culprits of injured runners; under most circumstances. Other factors such as inappropriate shoe size (not type), over-training, the sedentary choices between runs (i.e., sitting in front of a computer perhaps reading this blog for too long, work related stress, long commutes in a vehicle, etc.), and repeatedly poor nutritional choices should also be at the forefront of cerebral inquiries. Also, 'minimal' shouldn't be solely (that's a pun) defined as less between your foot and the ground, but also by less heal-to-toe drop. The inov-8 Evoskin falls into both categories, of course.

Less doesn't make you an instant Hippie...
There's a skewed notion -a prideful feud- between barefoot-ers, racers, and runners. Partly, in my opinion, because of the developmental ease of extremism (social media driven) after, "Born To Run," became popular. Much like politics most have drawn a line-in-the-sand and become tunnel-visioned on protecting the title they stand behind. The discussion of pros and cons of 'minimal' shoes has been lost. I can't argue with supporting your team, but there are major benefits, and risks, from less between your foot and the ground, and open discussion is far more productive than becoming suffocated in tangent discussions about apes, cavemen, ancestors, and corporate sabotage. Defining individually appropriate uses doesn't have to change an individuals ideology.

"Protection without losing sensation..." 
"They look like foot condoms." Yeah, I know you were already thinking it, so I might as well state it. Although I can probably think of a few more inuendo's for tag lines, inov-8 did a pretty good job with, "Protection without losing sensation." Got to give credit where credit is due. As teenage as the tagline is, inov-8 isn't just throwing out a seductive tagline without a package...yes, it's okay to laugh at that. The slim silicone case that wraps the foot really does allow for the most realistic 'barefoot' feel with the least amount of protection. <Think iPhone cover for your foot> Simplicity is the key to inov-8's design. No shoe laces, no hook-and-stick (Velcro), no medial posting, plastic, etc. It's just silicon in the shape of a human foot. This also means that you can either, (A) wash them in the shower with you, or (B) throw them into the dishwasher for easy cleaning.
The heel-to-toe drop: zero. Weight: 3.5 oz. Cost: $65.

Going barefoot doesn't turn you into Abebe Bikila...
I use my Evoskins as training tools, not training shoe replacements. I wear them at work once a week, usually about 6 - 8 hours worth of standing and sitting, and I run in them for 20 - 30 minutes on a soft (root, glass, rock, and worry free), turf soccer field once a week. I've also been using them post-long runs to help spread my toes apart which relaxes the muscles between the bones in the feet. The seemingly low amount of use is, for me, what seems to make the most sense. The benefits of adding extra stress to your weekly training have to be balanced with your body's ability to cope with the increased demand. Too much, too soon and you'll get injured.
They're worth a shot, if...
You're not currently injured, you're in the 'base-building' phase of training, and you have an appropriate facility to use them in. A gym, treadmill, golf course, soccer field, etc., If you only have access to concrete and asphalt, I'd stay away from running in the Evoskins and just use them to walk around town in once a week for no more than an hour to begin with. If you're going to try them, do so in a very conservative manner. It doesn't take a lot to reap the benefits, 1% to 5% of your total weekly mileage should suffice, for most.