STEP right up: Are you shoes helping or hurting you?

The other day I went to go buy shoes – nothing fancy, just something to work out in, and I found myself in rows and rows of all kinds of tennies: running shoes, weight training shoes, cross-training shoes… What do I pick??  A little bit intimidated, I took a look at my criteria for choosing a “good shoe:”

  • More supportive than my current shoes
  • Cool colors, sweet designs, STYLE (obviously!!!)

Turns out, this decision was more important than I thought.

The body is not symmetrical, and for a lot of motions and demands put on the body, this is an extremely positive thing.  Because we develop or experience dominance in one side or the other, we can cause this asymmetrical system to dysfunction, which can lead to instability (higher potential for injury), weakness (muscles over- or under-compensating), and chronic pain (my lower back knows this one REALLY well!).

What might this look like in athletics??

  • A skier feels more comfortable and confident in their left footers than their right footers
  • A snowboarder may feel more comfortable and confident spinning left as opposed to right
  • Favoring or landing on one leg more so than the other
  • Walking or running with toes pointed outwards
  • Jumping and landing with a slight inward collapse in the knee
  • Having tight hips that pinch in a squat
  • Being able to bend over to touch your toes and find that you can easily rest your palms on the floor (or maybe the complete opposite, the floor never looked so far!)

Postural Restoration Institute (or PRI for short) offers a new way of looking at performance enhancement and injury prevention that focuses on addressing the imbalances of the body so that it can function the way it was built to function.  Through adjusting the positioning of the pelvis and rib cage, as well as integrating diaphragmatic breathing, PRI restores range of motion, joint mobility, and potential for strength and functional movement that has been stunted by unilateral or bilateral dominance.

We have had the pleasure of working with Lisa Kelly, a PT and PRI Certified Practitioner out of Louisville, CO.  And oddly enough, her number one piece of advice for athletes is this:  For your skiers to train smarter, pay attention to the quality of their shoes.  And I suppose this makes sense – how can we expect the body to function properly if it is standing on an unstable foundation?  A good shoe allows your body to be better positioned to train out of your compensatory pattern – in other words, the RIGHT muscles have a better opportunity to work at the right time!  The “bad shoe” on the other hand, doesn’t give enough support where needed, so your body will find support and stability elsewhere (leading to those tight hips, limited mobility, and some of that chronic pain).

Take a look at this: 2015 Shoe List June 2015 – I bet you will be surprised by the difference the quality of a shoe can make.  I know I, for one, will definitely be revising my “criteria for a good shoe!”  And if PRI is something you want to learn more about, check out their website, or contact Stephanie Zavilla, Director of Sports Performance for WPCC at or Lisa Kelly, PRI expert, at  You’ll be glad you did.


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