It might be a surprise to know that when it comes to footwear for Erging the less cushioning the better. Many Ergers have their favourite shoe that they consider the best for Erging and decide on comfort. This normally means a pair of running shoes. While it’s fine for most erg workouts have you ever thought about the energy you could be losing through all that cushioning?
The power you apply to the foot plate on the erg is crucial to the power you are can transfer through your body and on to the handle. But imagine if a small percentage of the power you apply was being absorbed in your shoes? This can add up over a long training session and cause a lot of your rowing power to be absorbed by the cushioning of your footwear.
Cyclists and weightlifters wear flat stiff soled shoes with very little cushioning. There is good reason for this – to transfer power efficiently without any waste. Imagine trying to cycle a bike with a big pair of spongy shoes. It’s not difficult to see that there would be a delay and loss of efficiency in the transfer of your leg power to the pedals.
Imagine an Olympic Weightlifter attempting to break the Olympic Record in the snatch. He squats down, grabs the bar and lifts. Before the weights even move off the ground his leg power must be transferred to his feet and levered off the ground.
If he were wearing a pair of spongy well cushioned shoes what would you say are his chances of getting the weight over his head?
But you and I when we are Erging are no different. The force applied on the footplate might be less but the loss in efficiency could cost us as much.
Now we Ergers do need a little more flexibility so that we can slide up to the catch and the beginning of the rowing stroke without ankle discomfort. But it still doesn’t mean we need the protective cushioning of a running shoe designed for running. The shoes in a rowing boat don’t have much cushioning – just enough to make things comfortable. So why should Erging be any different?
Here’s what I recommend are the best shoes for those big erg test days:
1. Track shoes without the spikes
2. Weightlifting shoes
3. Sneakers without the insole
4. Tennis or Squash Shoes
Or alternatively there is the option of Erging without shoes or erg barefoot. Some Ergers find that this gives them more of a feel and a more efficient power phase. You could use a pair of socks to try prevent the discomfort of blisters, although there is little you can do about them. Like your hands, it will take some time to toughen them up.
Erg training with just a pair of regular sneakers for training is fine, but to get the most out of your legs and transfer some great rowing power to the erg footplate for erg tests – think about trying out my recommendations.