Physical Conditioning — February 15, 2012 1:52 pm

Parkour shoes

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parkour shoesTraining shoes for PK and Freeruning is a very popular subject lately, given the fact that a lot of companies started developing and selling these so-called Parkour shoes for enthusiasts.

The most popular shoe chosen by traceurs is, by far, the Kalenji running shoe. It is lightweight with good cushioning and has a good grip, much needed for that extra traction and wall impact.

The myth of good shoes

But are Parkour shoes hampering our natural senses and instincts? There are many voices that seem to confirm. Most people stomp around in shoes all day, and are in fact walking in an unnatural way. A study titled “Shod Versus Unshod: The Emergence of Forefoot Pathology in Modern Humans?” shows you walk wrong. According to the same study the cushioning and stabilization methods of shoes are making our feet lose their natural ability to absorb shock and shrink our ankle stabilizing muscles.

And if you think about it, it is not far from the truth. Sporting shoes, tied to our ankles and feet 12 hours a day will change the way your legs behave and react to impact.

Think about what are the main features you look for in a Parkour shoe for training. First is cushioning, because you need some thing to absorb the tremendous shock with. Second you want a shoe that will keep you foot tight, so it does not slip or slide inside the shoe. These are the main factors that lead to performance degradation. In time, your feet will start to depend more and more on the support of the shoes and will lose their natural strength.

The best option would be to grab a pair of indoor training shoes with little to no support and a cloth upper sole. You can get them from any store, cheaply. They are under 10$ so the price tag is not an issue. A good shoe is one that does not offer any cushioning, and has a relatively light frame so it does not constrict or disrupt your ankle’s movement in any way.

Recommended shoes for Parkour

Parkourpedia has a great article on shoes for Parkour, that I recommend you to check out. Their

Dunlop Volleys

Cheap, thin soles, good grip, with the only drawback being the soft compound used for the sole which means they wear away very quickly if you train certain techniques. These are the most probable choice for the early adopter of the no-support system on their shoes. They have a good feel and have been known as a great alternative to Kalenji’s for people trying to escape the running shoe.

Why train in thin sole shoes?

Training with a non-parkour shoe without any support will lead to a dramatic change in the way your body will react to training. The impact of the movements you make will be greatly diminished and your toes will need to readjust to the impact.

You will be obligated to perform softer landings and in better form on the ball of the foot and strengthen your ankle stability in order to rebuild your training to the same level as with the Kalenji’s or KO’s. But in the longer term, the benefits are worth it. Risk of injury will diminish and you leg muscles will regain the much needed strength to perform at peak level under any circumstance.

At this stage you will be able to double your efficiency and movement precision when you will put a running shoe on. So think about it for a minute, and take off your running shoes!

47 Comments

  • You could also consider the Vibram Five Fingers… they’re shoes with individual toes and feel similar to water shoes. They’ll protect your feet from cuts but you’ll still feel every rock, tar line or almost anything else you step on. The good thing though is that if you’re going to run on more rough terrain, they have a set that’s meant for mountain trail running that have just slightly thicker rubber to handle the larger sharper rocks.

    • Interesting! But after a few searches I found that they are much more expensive than regular running shoes. It’s kind of outrageous to pay more money to feel like you’re running barefoot, than actually running barefoot.

  • i have a dunlop volley but not sure it really works for me. Any suggestion or tips. I live in malaysia so its kind of hard to find some parkour shoe around.

  • How about nike free run +2 shoes…..are they good for parkour?

    • i currently have a pair of them, the grip is good on trees and bricks/concrete but the rubber pieces on the bottom rip off, theyre not the most durable and get holes in the toes easily. the foam pieces on the bottom tear off fairly easily and leave you with chunks missing. they dont have good grip on rails, you just slip off. they are also very expensive $100 and up. its best to just find a cheap shoe that is all one piece of rubber on the bottom. i would recommend the newbalance 373. cheap and very durable, vey thin and light. you can feel the cracks in the sidewalk after you break them in.

  • I have to agree with Kris. I have the trail running version of the Vibram five finger shoes for my parkour training, and I LOVE them. They allow me to run like we were built to, along with jumping and landing. It forces me to rely on my body for cushion rather than padded shoes.

  • to be honest i train in puma cabana racers and i find them amazing

  • i use k-swiss ariake or the adidas ZXZ’s

  • I have fila skeletoes, they have good grip and are relatively cheap. Good alternative to the vibram fivefingers

  • I have a pair of Vibram Five Finger Komodo Sports. They’re really great. The thing is, they offer enough protection from your external environment and, at the same time, keep the shoe as minimal as possible. The Vibram’s forced me to correct my practice & technique; from landing and precisions all the way to basic running, walking, and even my posture in some little way. The soles offer a good amount of grip, but just enough so you don’t depend solely on it. The Fila Skeletoes were an option to me because I felt a bit dismayed with the pricetags on Vibrams. But when my friend got a pair of Skeletoes, they ripped & tore in less than 2 months. Other practitioners from our area were prone to injury due to the the Skeletoes being slippery. Ands they said that the joint-toe part of the shoe was not only limiting, but also annoying. There is a new product I found in the market. It’s called the Zem Gear Ninja. It’s sort of like a tabi shoe, however, has better grip underneath. Zem has a few products out now, and I wouldn’t mind trying some out.

    • Hey Cai,

      Sounds like some great insight on the five fingers and similar shoes. Thanks for taking the time to post, I’m sure It will help readers decide better when they decide to switch.

  • I also have the vibram five fingers. I love them, but be warned, it takes a while to get used to the whole ” barefoot ” running. I recommend at least a few weeks to break them in and get your feet ready before attempting anything too intense. But for parkour training….. Nothing comes close…

  • TioTo be very pointed the vibram five fingers are well worth thelast cost they are well desinged and durable. It definatly gives the feel of barefoot running and when parkou/freerunning you learn to watch every step because if you misplce your foot it could cause damage this drastically reduces your chance of injury. I own two pairs 75$ & 100$ little pricy yes. But they last. I’ve had for 2years and wear and train in them daily. If you want to start the buy the kso 75$ not bad well worth it.

  • what shoes would u recommend 4 beginners?

    • Hi Levi,

      If you are a beginner I would definitely recommend using running shoes with cushioning. In the first training period you will have a tendency to land hard and make mistakes (land on your heels, etc.). A good pair of shoes should limit the risk of injury. You can buy Kalenji Ekiden or any other cheap running shoe that offers a soft cushion.

  • I recently picked up a pair of adidas adipure on sale at finish line for $50 USD normally 90. On par if not better than the vibram in my opinion. Just starting out in parkour and so far I’ve been wearing mine all day without issue, Just thought I’d offer an opinion on shoe

  • Hi, I’m thinking about training in parkour, and I’m wondering if my reezigs are good for beginners. Also, I’m a young teenager, so are there any extra concerns or precautions I should advise?
    Thank you!

    • Hi Evan,

      I have never used these types of shoes for Parkour, but I must say, they look like they will not last you very long if you’re going to do intense training. The sole seems like it’s going to tear pretty fast. If you don’t mind putting them to the test, try them out. They still look like they can offer the cushioning you need.

      If you are just starting with Parkour, please take note of some conditioning exercises I have here that will help you get into good physical shape. Train your technique and strength at a 50-50 ratio. Don’t neglect warming up (joint rotations and sprinting) and warming down (stretching).

      If you want more in depth info, browse around my articles more, or just ask.

      Have fun!

  • hi i’m 12 years old turning to 13 and i’m a leader of parkour group in philippines called RPK i use hi top converse in parkour is there any problem in converse to use?

    • Hi John,

      If you have experience in training with those types of shoes, that’s great. I prefer them over running shoes. Just try to be careful on your landings and big jumps. You don’t have any support from the shoes. You will have to build strong leg muscles to be able to perform big precision jumps.

      Work on lower body conditioning and warm-up thoroughly before starting your training.

      • ok and i’m doing about 25 push ups 50 squat 25 sit ups and about 1 min. leg stretch is it good?

        • Hi John,

          I hope you do at least 3 repetitions of the sets you described. You should be alright, as long as you also have a nice and thorough training afterwards. I’m a big fan of conditioning exercises first, then technique.

  • Hey, Im pretty new to parkour and looking for some professional training. Any Ideas??

  • are Adidas Adipure Motion shoes good parkour shoes?

    • Hi,

      From what I can tell, they seem alright. However, you need to think if you want to trash a $100 pair of shoes by doing Parkour. Intense training can reduce a pair of shoes to a piece of cloth in about three months, even less. The reason why people usually use Kalenji’s or Feiyue is because they are durable and cheap to replace.

  • Hi,

    I was looking for shoes for parkour , and i found these jika-tabi boots, which are japanese ninja like shoes , do you know if they are good for parkour?

    • Hi Vincent,

      I have zero experience with those types of shoes. But, judging by their appearance they seem to be a better choice for martial arts or sports where you need ankle support. Usually, over the ankle shoes tend to get in the way of the natural movement of the foot.

  • Hi Dan, do you know if Nike Lunaswift 3 are good for parkour?

    • Hi Ben,

      Those shoes look great for Parkour. They’re light and seem to have good durability. If you can’t find cheaper shoes, you can easily go with the Lunaswift.

  • i usualy train in skate shoes beacase i skate and bike when im not doing parkour. they are durabe and have heal padding but minamal padding in the ball of the foot. i also occasionaly train in saucony kinvara 3′s. i was wondering if they would be good for advanced parkour training

    • Hi Zac,

      I have never had the chance to train in skate shoes, but I think they are a viable option. As for the saucony kinvara 3, do you really want to train in $100 shoes? In Parkour? Take into account that PK training involves forces much greater than running. I don’t think you’ll have those shoes for very long. Try something cheaper.

  • Hi Dan , do you know mizuno wave rider 13 ?
    are they good for parkour and freerunning

    • Hi Thanacic,

      I can give you the same answer I gave Zac, below. They seem to offer a lot of technology. But putting such an expensive shoe to the test in Parkour or Free running will leave you with a pair of shoes you will throw away in 2-3 months. Don’t go for the expensive stuff, as this will only help you wallet get thinner, faster.

  • Hey Dan, i’m a very athletic 15 year old tee, and i feel as though im very sloppy in my tequniques, and i was wondering how i could learn more, because there is no one i know that also does it.

    Also, i was wondering where i could buy shoes, and what you personally would reccomend.

  • I’m a huge fan of the Onitsuka Tiger Ultimate 81. That shoe is a boss and can carry me anywhere I want to go!

  • I was wondering if onitsuka tiger ultimate 81 are any good for parkour.

    • Hi David,

      I did not have the opportunity to test the shoe yet. However I will pretty soon. I should have my hands on a test pair in a few days.

  • How about the Ollo Sapien’s. The Sapien was developed in collaboration with traceurs on 3 continents. Their input and suggestions have been instrumental in shaping the outsole pattern design, degree of cushioning and the material mixture we use in our outsole compound.
    Grip optimizing bottom texture and pattern zones. 0110 / High Grip special blend rubber provides outstanding grip. Wider toe wrap is tapered and provides a tactile leading edge. Impact absorbing midsole in topgrade EVA for the highest resilience OLLOFLEX hinged forefoot upper pattern for improved toe flex.

  • Hey Dan,

    Out of these three shoes, which is the best for a indoor parkour gym: Nike Free 5.0, adidas Crazylite 3, or the Vans Old Skools

    • Hi Mason,

      Out of those three i would go for the Nike Free 5.0 due tot he following facts:
      - They have really good heel support without the bulk of the Adidas CrazyLite
      - The have a light construction and breathe a lot better that both competitors
      - Unlike Adidas crazylite and Vans old schools shoes, the Nike Free are actually built for running which give makes them more comfortable

      I hope this helps with your choice.

  • I have a pair of vibram five finger and I love them. Yes, they are expensive but I’ve had mine for over a year now and have used them for lots of things other than parkour

    • Hi Sam,

      Thanks for the suggestion. I have tried them on and I have to say I agree with what you say. Those shoes are like going barefoot without having to worry about stepping into glass or hurting your feet. That’s, if you’re not worried about their price.

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