Fencing shoes


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Fencing is not as popular as football. More people jog then fence. So, this translates to fencing as a niche market for manufacturers. Sometimes the technology is adapted from other sports. This is the case in shoes. Stop you say, we have asymmetric shoes specifically made for fencing! Well, says I, the answer be yes ...... and no!

Take away the window dressing, and you may see that fencing shoes, are following the path of least resistance, the path of the running shoes. If you're a runner you may be aware that some controversy surrounds the over padded, over stabilized, shock absorbing shoes that have become the norm. Used over time, the argument is that the stabilizing muscles become weaker. Having worn orthopedics from an early age I can testify that over the years my feet did in fact become weaker (changing to a barefoot technology has helped but also have other issues). Further, soles of the type that spread out, to offer a wider platform can create a fulcrum in extreme situations and increase the severity of traumatic injuries in my experience. Rolling the foot in a lunge, while bad form can become far more serious in this type of shoe. Further, shoes that extend the heel backward can lead to poor form. We should try to roll on the heel rather then absorb the direct impact

Barefoot technology tries to emulate being barefoot, but transitioning to such footwear must be done slowly to allow for muscles and technique to adapt. That said many of these shoes offer little protection to the upper foot, epee fencers be warned! This issue is also apparent in many fencing shoe, the foot is ill protected from a direct thrust. Mesh top shoes are not good for epee, in my opinion they are unsafe. In my experience, barefoot style shoes offer no protection from high impact footwork found in fencing, so more care must be paid to correct fencing form. The forces common to fencing can be as much as seven times your body weight

Most brands of fencing shoes have rather narrow toe boxes, at least for many fencers. They squeeze your toes together and promote bunions, hammer toe and other issues. It is possible to have a shoe with good fit and still allow a toe box that will not cramp your toes.

So having ruled out just about everything, what should you do? This is your standard advice. My advice is to think outside the box when looking for “fencing shoes”. Look for features that apply to your specific needs

The ideal shoe will be different for each fencer. I personally modify my shoes with thin high density inserts that do not raise the heel. These inserts should be replaced frequently. The soles are flat with rounded heal that follows the natural contour of my heel. I make sure I have plenty of room to spread my toes but still have a good fit so the shoe will not shift under any fencing situation. Soles are best when as much rubber meets the strip as possible. I avoid high top shoes that are over padded on the assumption that getting a blade caught it will not end well. One last note, your shoes will not last forever. Replace them every season, some of you will be best served with two pairs