What? TOPO Athletic is a footwear company. To learn more about them and their mission check out their website.
I am posting tonight to share my experiences with a pair of their shoes the Train//RX.
I have worn a handful of minimalist shoes over the last few years and have personal experience comparing and contrasting several brands and models. With anything I have found pros and cons with each of them.
The Train//RX at first glance looks like many of the shoes on the market that have a toes or toes separated from each other. However, the Train//RX is quite unique. The big toes are separated from the other four toes in the shoe. Not for bad behavior or anything like that, but to promote natural foot mechanics similar to the Japanese Tabi shoe. This approach is supposed to provide greater agility and connectivity to the ground. It does requires special socks, courtesy of Injingi.
When looking for a shoe the three basics that I look for are; zero drop, a wide toe box and minimal arch support. The “drop” of a shoe refers to the difference in height between the heel and the forefoot. Most shoes have an elevated heel, even the ones that you don’t expect like Nike Free for example. These kicks have zero drop. The toe box is the front of the shoe. It is where the toes live and many shoes are restrictive and do not let the forefoot and toes move properly during gait. Topo’s “Anatomic Toe Box” does just the trick. In regards to arch support, I prefer a non invasive shoe that let’s me pronate and supinate naturally though the foot. I found that to be the case with the Train//RX.
I eased into my “RXs” wearing them first while I worked with a couple of clients one day. Then I sported them for a couple of flexibility, core and upper body workouts over the next few days before moving to total body and leg training workouts. Within minutes of putting the shoe on for the first time I felt greater activation of my left VMO and left hip lateral rotators. I was not expecting this over such a short period of time. I have pretty good self awareness, but didn’t realize I needed that. It felt good!
Over the next couple of bouts wearing the shoes, weird, but the my big toes had some separation anxiety from the other toes. Now I regularly wear other minimalist shoes that separate each individual toe, but this was different. During the first two times I wore them the medial aspect of each big toe almost felt aggravated form rubbing against the material but by the third time I wore them, that sensation disappeared. It was almost as if the big toe was accepting the new position, mobility and support the individual slot was providing it.
This next part sounds hokey but from the minute I put them on I wanted to run, jump, climb, pounce, explode! I felt the urge to move and felt more athletic. I kept the horse in the barn for the first few days mainly because I had a few ice hockey games to play in and wanted to have fresh legs on the ice. I also like to take my time getting used to changes in footwear without progressing to sharply in duration of usage, frequency or application of load.
When I did train total body and legs I felt great. My lifts or vertical leap did not shoot up, but I felt great. During walking lunges my back foot stayed straighter. My feet gripped the ground. My hips got better activation. Landing multiplanar plyos felt easier too. I did truly feel more connected to the ground and I didn’t read that as a claim from Topo until after the workout.
I liked that there was something between me and the floor. There is a time and place for being barefoot like running on the grass or playing in the sand etc but in the gym with a thin-ish rubber mat over a concrete floor, I like to have some cushioning. I don’t want to be bouncing or floating, but something to make the unforgiving concrete…well…more forgiving.
Not only did I feel great, but the shoe felt great. You can tell it is well made. The seams, the breath-ability, the edges of the shoe that contacts the skin around the calve and side of the ankle were all comfortable. It is sturdy. The laces are thicker and seem like they will hold up through gym based workouts, outdoor runs and adventure races. I am not sure that I would want to be wearing the RXs for a full workday however. I am not sure there is enough breath-ability for that. The other Topo products may breathe better and truth be told this is a shoe of action. I am not sure it was designed to be worn training clients all day.
I am considering the Run//RT shoe for my daughter for cross country this season. I will have her try a pair on.
Here is the tale of the tape on the Train//RX:
// 3 MM REMOVABLE EVA FOOTBED
// PERFORATED AND AEGIS LINED FOR BREATHABILITY AND ODOR RESISTANCE
// 4 MM RUBBER OUTSOLE / 6 MM EVA MIDSOLE
// MEN’S WEIGHT: 7.8 OZ (SIZE 9)
// WOMEN’S WEIGHT: 6.3 OZ (SIZE 7)
If you are looking for an athletic shoe to train in that is built to let you move the way you’re built, then I suggest you try the Topo Train//RX. The separation of the big toe might be much for someone with an adducted big ray (big toe). Some corrective exercise work work in the foot, lower extremity and hip may be required prior being able to wear this shoe comfortably. This shoe is potentially a safer transition from an overbuilt shoe to some of the more minimalist shoes on the market today due to the depth of the sole and Tabi-style. I look forward to more adventures with the RX soon.
Thanks for reading,
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