The NW Fitness Shoe Review

 

Nike is the king of the athletic shoe world. They make a shoe for just about everything and do a damn good job at it. The Nike Free is their venture back into the minimalist style of running shoe (their first shoe, the Cortez, had only a very slight heel rise). The Free comes in three similar models, the 3.0, 4.0, and 5.0. Each version comes with their own heel to toe drop and varying color schemes and styles. The commonality is the deep siping making for an extremely flexible sole that can be bent and rolled with ease. The latest versions now sport hexagonal shaped soles for a smoother transition and added flexibility. Each model also has a roomy toe box and lack a heel counter. A heel counter is the rigid insert in the heel of some shoes that stabilizes the foot. Without this piece, your foot will be forced to stabilize itself. This is great for strengthening the foot but can cause some muscle fatigue for those who have not run in this type of shoe before. Go here for some at home ankle and foot exercises to strengthen, reduce injury, and correct pronation or supination issues.

 

One great thing about the Nike Free is that it comes in just about every color combo. If you can’t find exactly the colors you want, you can make your very own personalized pair in NikeiD.

 

The following is a breakdown of the three Nike Free models:

 

Nike Free 5.0 – The style of this shoe changes year to year but the 8mm heel to toe drop is always consistent. I love these shoes for day to day wear! Since I started my foray into minimalist shoes with the Free 3.0, I find the rise in the heel to be a bit much for me to say they are my favorite runner. For experienced ‘barefoot’ runners this shoe has too much cushion and far too much rise in the heel, not providing enough ground feedback. For someone new to the minimalist game, this can be a great option to get started on strengthening your feet and adjusting to a more natural fitting shoe. The latest version has a Flywire lacing system which does a good job at securing your midfoot for stability when moving laterally and the 5.0 has a more rigid heel than the 4.0 and 3.0 providing slightly more stabilization. However, this is still a minimalist shoe therefor precautions should be taken for more advanced agility training.

 

Rating:   

Running (1 = I wouldn’t even run from zombies in these shoes – 10 = I can’t wait for my next run, I can run forever in these shoes!)

 

7 -     I’ve had clients run marathons and sprints in these shoes with no problems! I prefer something closer to a zero drop shoe that doesn’t let me get lazy and drop into a slow, heel striking gait, and this is why they don’t get a 10.

 

Gym (1 = When I was finished I could barely put weight on my feet they hurt so bad☹ - 10 = OMG I have super powers and can lift a car!)

 

7 -     Like I mentioned above, these are a fantastic day to day shoe! There is a bit too much cushion for aggressive lifters which can lead to some instability when under a heavy load.

 

Nike Free 4.0 – The most recent version of the 4.0 shoes are Flyknits and they look super cool! The Flyknit offers a sock like shoe with a traditional tongue and laces that are secured with Flywire so they actually lace up and hold your foot securely in the shoe. While I never run without socks, this is a shoe that is made for those of you who do. The 4.0 model has a 6mm heel to toe drop with a 20 mm heel stack height. Like with all the Nike Frees, there isn’t much lateral support so agility drills should be done with caution when you first start out in these shoes. Overall the 4.0 is a fantastically versatile shoe for running short, mid, or long distances, as well as working on plyometrics or just wearing out and about.

 

Rating:

Running (1 = I wouldn’t even run from zombies in these shoes – 10 = I can’t wait for my next run, I can run forever in these shoes!)

 

8 -     Another great shoe to add to your closet as a stepping stone towards a zero drop model.

 

Gym (1 = When I was finished I could barely put weight on my feet they hurt so bad☹ - 10 = OMG I have super powers and can lift a car!)

 

8 -     The stretchy Flyknit material allows your foot to spill over the side of the sole if working aggressively on lateral movements. I like the shoes for lifting and they are an even better option than the 5.0 for general gym use.

 

 

Nike Free 3.0 – This is Nike’s most minimal runner with a 4mm heel to toe drop. The shoe is unstructured and flexible, giving you the most natural ride while still offering a fair amount of cushion making it a great choice if you’re not quite ready to go with a full on barefoot shoe. For experienced barefoot runners, the amount of cushion may take away from the ground feel experience you know and love. The upper is made from a single piece of Flyknit material, no tongue, you simply slip into it like putting on a tight fitting sock that is attached to a sole and they look bad ass! There are laces but it seems they are more for aesthetics than function. I love running in these shoes! They are light, sleek, and fast. My one complaint is the sock like upper doesn’t allow you to loosen or tighten the fit. I didn’t have any problems while running but if I wear them for an extended period of time while sitting or standing they started to irritate my Achilles, they are just too tight over my heel. When doing track work, you can’t cinch down the laces so I occasionally stepped out of the heel when starting in a three point stance, and they are really not good for any lateral work. But for putting in miles, these are your shoes!

 

Rating:

 

Running (1 = I wouldn’t even run from zombies in these shoes – 10 = I can’t wait for my next run, I can run forever in these shoes!)

 

9 -     This is the shoe to keep in your closet for when all you want to do is go out and run some fast miles. It is a running shoe, that is what it was designed for and that is what it is great for.

 

Gym (1 = When I was finished I could barely put weight on my feet they hurt so bad☹ - 10 = OMG I have super powers and can lift a car!)

 

6 -     If this shoe had the same uppers as the 4.0 but the sole of the 3.0 I would rate this higher for gym use. Maybe if your ankles are narrower than mine you won’t have the same Achilles irritation I experience when wearing these in the gym. I rate them over a 5 because they do have a great responsive sole with a low heel to toes drop.

 

 

 

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