| | | Vans – A Power Athlete Tribute

Author / Colby Wartman

5 - 7 minute read

The year is 1997, school is right around the corner and you are wrapping up the last few bike rides and sleepovers with your friends. A few weeks before school starts you would always take that trip to the city and go “school shopping.” From new shoes and clothes to the boring school supplies, this was a staple in the average American household. It was something we looked forward to and cherished. To get out of town, possibly with some friends, get all the trendy gear on the block and hit the school with your new favorite outfit. For us mid-westerners, if you weren’t rocking a pair of Nike Shox, you were a nobody. The famous rigid and thickened heel, copious amounts of cushion, combined with a narrow toe box was a recipe for disaster. Those damn shoes have broken more ankles during recess than LaDainian Tomlinson in his heyday. Instead of putting a band-aid over the check engine light, maybe it is time to address the underlying issues of your foot health and upgrade to a superior shoe. Enter Vans Shoes. Before we determine the Vans shoe as the superior shoe in performance, you may ask, why would a shoe such as the Nike Shox be so detrimental to your foot health and performance?

Save the Cash

For comparison, think about an x-ray image of a foot in a moderately low high heel shoe. From the start, we see a disruption of our natural foot positioning as a human. This will cause a cascade of issues up and down the kinetic chain that is detrimental to health and performance. If these shoes are chronically worn, the athlete can lose range of motion in dorsiflexion which is crucial for many athletic movements such as sprinting, squatting, and moving through space. As a joint loses mobility, the body will compensate by going up or down the chain of joints to further find its range of motion. In this case, many athletes will compensate by turning the restricted foot outward to make up for the lack of mobility in the ankle. This can lead to losing external rotation at the hip, and all this for some ill-favored “men’s high heels” with a price tag of $125. Save your money and your feet by switching over to the official shoe of Power Athletes across the globe: Vans.

The amount of money people pay to ruin their feet in unnatural footwear is preposterous. Leading us to point number one why Vans shoes are the greatest performance shoe ever made: they are cheap!! For an exquisite design, customization of colors, and great performance features you will pay $50-$60 at most. 

Run Like the Flash

However, just because they are cheap doesn’t mean they don’t back a punch in functionality and performance. Starting with the bottom of the shoe, Vans were made to keep action sports athletes in contact with the ground, no matter the circumstances. The geometric and minimalist design has done just that for years, allowing for more ground contact surface area and thus increases the ability to change direction and produce force into the ground. Compounding off of the surface area, the regular vans measure 5/6th of an inch thick, allowing the athlete to feel the ground without presenting too much padding. For change of direction, squatting, and sprinting, this is one of the most important aspects of the shoe. This allows the athlete to feel the ground, pressing their big toe in and pulling the ground back to optimize performance. Most importantly, this provides the foot the opportunity to develop the arches of the foot that are essential for health and performance. 

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The Real Golden Arches

The foot has two main arches: the longitudinal and the transverse arch. The longitudinal arch is the one everyone knows about, running from the heel to the ball of the foot, it has acquired all the attention recently. 

However, the transverse arch, curving across the foot at the base of the metatarsal bones, is highly important for stiffness in the foot. A study published by Madhusudhan Venkadesan in February of 2020 showed exactly how important the transverse arch has become. In the study of cadavers, “Cutting the transverse ligaments reduced foot stiffness by the remarkable value of more than 40%. By comparison cutting the plantar fascia of the longitudinal arch reduces stiffness by just 23%” (Venkadesan, 2020). So what does that mean, besides that these scientists took foot fetish to a new level? These results suggest it is of utmost importance to allow your feet to spread out and naturally build their arches, instead of weakening them with arch support. Why is stiffness and allowing the foot to spread naturally important? Because these characteristics are crucial to building strong feet, and strong feet are a critical component of strong performance.

One of my favorite features of the Vans shoe is the ability to purchase wide or original width shoes. Having a stupid wide foot myself, a wider toe box increases the ground surface area, allowing for the development of my transverse arch, and in turn, provides me the opportunity for increased performance by increasing stiffness in my foot. Opened and closed, this argument is a landslide in favor of the Vans shoes. 

Let’s break the stigma that comfort equals good. In life, living in complete comfort with no type of struggle leads to complacency and general weakness. This is not a place that you want to be. 

In the case of footwear, why not go with the beautifully designed, ergonomic, and functional Vans shoes rather than choosing what is comfortable? Choosing comfort is a short-term gain for a long-term loss as it pertains to the health of your feet. Tear the band-aid off, allow your feet to function as they should, and get yourself a pair of Vans, period.

Just like strong feet can provide a solid foundation to dominant athletic performance, our Power Athlete Methodology Course will provide you a solid footing in some of the key foundational principles of strength and conditioning, giving you the tools your need to ultimately Empower the Performance of your athletes. Check it out today!

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Venkadesan, Madhusudhan, Ali Yawar, Carolyn M. Eng, Marcelo A. Dias, Dhiraj K. Singh, Steven M. Tommasini, Andrew H. Haims, Mahesh M. Bandi, and Shreyas Mandre. "Stiffness of the Human Foot and Evolution of the Transverse Arch." 26 Feb. 2020. Web. 10 May 2021.


Colby Wartman

Colby Wartman is the Owner of the Iron Chapel Strength & Conditioning gym in Dickinson, ND. Along with that, he is the Dickinson State University Strength Coach, specializing in football and basketball. He also is the host of Next-Level Radio, a podcast addressing the biggest questions in strength, business, and investing. Colby became a Block One Coach in September 2020.


  1. JB on May 13, 2021 at 2:56 am

    How can you tell when it’s time to retire an old pair?

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