KD 9 Review

The KD 9 comes after, what I felt, was a very disappointing shoe in the KD 8.  The first time I ever laced up the KD8 one of the eyelets broke on me and Nike gave me the runaround on getting a replacement … I was less than pleased.  Anyway … on to the review.


Nike went with a solid rubber outsole that looks suspect at first glance, I really questioned how good this traction would be.  I couldn’t have been more wrong … the traction on the KD9 performed nearly flawlessly.  The performance on these wasn’t quite on par with the 28’s (still my no.1 performance choice) but I left the gym with no complaints.  Also, these held up just fine on some of the dustier courts we played on, give ’em a quick wipe down and you’re good to go!

Cushion / Impact Protection

One thing to always keep in mind when you read reviews … all the people providing reviews are a different size.  The cushioning setup that works for me might not work for you.  I’m 6’3 and weigh around 240 lbs (college football and lots of lifting) so I’m generating some force when I jump, cut, etc.  so I need something with plenty of cushion and impact protection.  Nike went with an articulated max zoom setup in the KD9 and it’s AWESOME (this is light-years better than the zoom setup on the 8’s)!  You feel the energy return with each step and you’re given some solid impact protection in the heel and ball of your foot.  This setup also provided solid court feel.  This setup is very similar to the Lebron X but provides a better court feel and a bit more flexibility given the shoes articulated setup.

Quality / Value / Sizing

Nike went with a flyknit setup for the KD9 and, in my opinion, this is the best flyknit iteration to date.  My only gripe is the last they used to build the shoe … if you’re not a wide-footer I’d suggest going down a 1/2 size.  Another thing to note … this shoe is a PAIN to get on!

Anyway, back to the quality and value of the shoe.  The KD9 retails for $150 and even at that price this shoe is a solid deal, it’s an elite performer on court that most any guard/wing player can appreciate.  If you’re willing to do a bit of searching you can find these online and in outlets for anywhere from $60 (give or take) to $100 (depending on colorway).


Sizing on these is a bit tricky … I suggest going true to size or down a half size if you have a narrow foot.  This is definitely a shoe you’re going to want to try on in-store.  I had a difficult time getting good lockdown around my ankle and found myself constantly re-tying my shoe.  I wish I had gone down a half size (I wear a 13, wish I had opted for a 12.5).


My only gripe on this shoe was the fit around the ankle, I just couldn’t get it tight enough.  Don’t let that scare you off, the shoe provides awesome lockdown and I always felt one with the court when I was playing in them.  Traction is awesome on clear or dusty courts and cushioning is some of the best I’ve played in.  Next time you’re at the mall or the outlets keep an eye out for a pair … you won’t regret it!


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It’s Because We Became Lazy – US Obesity Problem


ID-100142619The American diet as it relates to calories has actually changed very little over the past 80 years.  There has been a switch from a high carbohydrate and animal fat diet in the past, to a high vegetable fat based, higher protein diet in more recent years.  We also have the addition of increased fiber, understanding of healthy fats, as well as an increase in raw vegetable and fruit consumption.  This shift, specifically over the last 40 years, does not proportionally match the increase in the obesity problem. So what is the cause?

Due to the breakthroughs in technology, the average calorie expenditure of individuals has DRASTICALLY decreased, especially starting in the 80’s.  A reduction in jobs requiring manual labor, new modes of transportation, and a huge increase in the tech. industry has wiped out the need for the population to get their hands dirty, focusing more on computer skills…

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The #1 reason why people find deep squatting difficult

Awesome piece on ankles and the role they play in squats!

Posture Movement Pain

What is the Deep Squat?

The deep squat describes a position in which one is resting in full flexion of the hips, knees and ankles with the feet on the ground. The deep squat is a comfortable resting position which is more stable than standing because of the low center of gravity. The deep squat serves as an alternative to sitting and is especially handy to avoid sitting on a sharp or dirty surface. Go ahead and give it a try.

Comfortable right?

Or not? For some people the deep squat is very difficult and can only be accomplished with one or several compensations. Your squatting ability can be placed in one of three categories based on the following test.

Stand with your feet together.  Squat down as low as you can without letting your heels come off the ground and keep your arms and trunk as upright as possible.

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Why I Will Never Crossfit

Now, before you go and call for my head, hear me out.  I have absolutely nothing against Crossfit, I think it serves a specific niche in the fitness industry and they definitely have a GREAT thing going.  That said, there’s a host of reasons why I’ll never join a ‘Box’.

First, I can’t wrap my head around people going from a sedentary lifestyle to performing compound barbell exercises for heavy reps.  This is dangerous for so many reasons!  I’ve been lifting for about 15-16 years and there’s still days where I’m questioning my form and tweaking things as I learn more and more about deadlifts, squats, cleans, etc.  Expecting sedentary people to master olympic-lifts and heavy compound movements with nothing more than a 20 minute demonstration is insane.  I understand a lot of workouts are scaled to the participant but the technique used on these lifts hurt just from watching!

Next, and this is mostly relative, but the cost.  Crossfit is not cheap, it’s quite expensive – a nearby Crossfit gym charges $160/month for full-gym access.  I currently pay $25/month for a gym that caters to powerlifters; crazy considering the equipment found in a Crossfit gym and my gym is actually very similar!  You’d think if you’re spending $160/month you’d have access to a team of trainers that did something more than a weekend training course to get their certification … just saying.  I know that last comment was a bit harsh and the majority of the Crossfit trainers have a pretty thorough knowledge of lifting and fitness principles but it’s still pretty ambitious to call these folks experts on the finer points of olympic-lifting and nutrition – Is this paleo?

Moving on – and again this is simply relative, my Crossfit-friends make me want nothing to do with Crossfit.  In my personal experience, Crossfit is the exact opposite of Fight Club… meaning that the first rule of Crossfit is to always talk about Crossfit! The next time I hear about someone’s first muscle-up I’m going to lose my mind!  I have friends that have never seen the inside of a gym before joining Crossfit and now they’re giving me advice on how to deadlift … maybe this is less about Crossfit and more about my friends?  Anyway, it’s great to see people getting off their butts and working out but god forbid you don’t check-in on Facebook and share your Fran time with the world.

My final issue with Crossfit is their day to day progressions/splits.  A family member of mine follows the Crossfit WOD’s pretty closely and will do them out of his home gym and I can’t help but think it’s not only dangerous but the splits they use are a disaster waiting to happen!  I recall looking at his workout (that he pulled from the CF website) and it went something like: Day 1: front squat, power cleans and jerks using 185 lbs + some accessory work; then the following day calls for overhead squats?  WHY?!  Kiss your lower back goodbye!  I understand 185 lbs. isn’t a ton of weight and the loads are scaled depending on the participants experience but this isn’t smart.  Anyone with an ounce of competitiveness in their body is going to try to bust their ass in the gym and this is where it becomes dangerous.  You have inexperienced lifters performing ‘heavy’ compound exercises on back to back days that tax the same muscle groups.

In short, I have nothing against Crossfit, I think it’s great alternative to going at it alone and the ‘team atmosphere’ is GREAT for some.  I just wish they’d place a bit more of an emphasis on technique and form rather than just banging out reps.  I’d love to hear what you think!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

There seems to be a wee bit of confusion on this fine St. Patrick’s Day.  Did St. Patrick rid Ireland of snakes or rats?  Well, as any good Irishman can tell ya.  He got rid of the snakes and left the rats alone and it’s a glad thing that he did.

Studies conducted in the late 1990’s has shown that when strokes were induced in lab rats, an alcohol and caffeine combination was found to protect their  brains.

Studies in the UK have also found that stroke patients may benefit more from an alcohol and caffeine – a medical equivalent of an Irish coffee – combination, than from some conventional drugs.

Researchers have stressed that more tests need to be conducted before the full benefits for humans could be evaluated .  Obviously the drug companies are not going to fund these test but I for one would volunteer for this study.

As I’ve had the luck of the Irish and have never had a stroke I would be in the prevention control group.    I’ll be training tonight with an Irish coffee after my shepherd’s pie.  I’ll be drinking it in style from my Irish Coffee Mug.  You can get your own from Amazon.  Check them out here http://amzn.to/1S6rHBv and they’ve got great deals on coffee at http://amzn.to/1pOszlk.

Please note – caution is needed here.  Please do not attempt to self-medicate if you are a stroke victim or have any other health issue.  Follow your doctor’s orders and use alcohol responsibly.

May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow…

Solving Reoccurring Calf Strains

If you’ve been unfortunate enough to suffer from reoccurring calf strains then you’ve come to the right place!  I had a 1 year battle with calf issues before I finally solved the issue.  I researched the topic for probably a month before I finally decided on my method of attack.

The first thing you must do is seek medical attention if you have a severe strain!!!  The first step in this process is REST, I’ll say it again REST!  The first time I strained my calf I tried taking a week or two off thinking that would solve the issue.  I couldn’t have been more wrong!  I STRONGLY suggest 2-3 months depending on the severity of your strain.  While taking a few months off you need to do everything within your power to minimize the stress you place on your calf.  If you’re on your feet during the day or do a lot of walking during your work hours or commute I would urge you to purchase a pair of supportive insoles.  I work in corporate America so I’m in dress the majority of the time – these are HELL on your legs.  I ended up buying a pair of Dr. Scholls massaging/supportive insoles and they’ve made a HUGE difference (check them out here: http://amzn.to/22nKwFa).

So you’ve managed to get 2-3 months of rest in, what next?  Now it’s time to begin strengthening and stretching your calf.  During the first 2 weeks or so simply begin with calf raises while sanding on a flat surface paired with light stretching of the gastrocnemius and the soleus.  There’s a million different products out there to help with calf stretching, feel free to look around here: http://amzn.to/1Ws3xme – I’ve always been a fan of foot/ankle/calf rockers.  Rockers are simple productions and can usually be picked up for $15-$50.  When you come to weeks 3-4 it’s time to start with calf raises with your heel hanging off an edge so we can get a full range of motion.  I recommend aiming for 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps every other day or so.  Make sure you’re pairing this with stretching (I recommend becoming familiar with the downward facing dog pose).

The next step in the process is moving into dynamic activities.  When doing this you should continue to do your strengthening and stretching exercises (you should also start doing weighted calf raises around this time). My transition into dynamic activities started with walk/jogging intervals on the treadmill.  I’d do an eighth of a mile at a light jog (3.5-4mph) and move to a quarter mile walk (2.5-3mph) then back to the light jog.  I’d do these intervals for 15-20 minutes 3 times a week.  As you begin to feel more comfortable with the jogging slowly transition into longer distances of jogging paired with shorter walking intervals(DON’T RUSH INTO IT).  During this time I recommend you incorporate some sort of LIGHT agility training.  I recommend picking up a jump rope and knocking out 5-10 minute sessions with it a few times a week.

So you’re now running a mile or two at a time on the treadmill and you’re sick of the jump rope – what’s next? You need to SLOWLY introduce your calf to more and more explosive activities until you’re fully comfortable.  One of my favorite activities is pick-up basketball.  I started off by going to the gym and working on the shots I’d normally take in a game and also worked on basketball specific movements (back pedaling, jumping, quick change of directions, etc.).  Once I was comfortable with the sport specific movements I decided it was time to get back out there and attended a pick-up bball session.  I made sure to incorporate a THOROUGH warmup paired with multiple breaks to rest and stretch my calf.  I’m now going on 8 months of strain-free basketball/running!  I continue to stretch/strengthen my calfs and I’m constantly using my foam roller all-over my legs.  Also, if you haven’t done so already I strongly recommend you pickup a pair of neoprene calf sleeves.  Calf sleeves add support to your calf muscle and also help keep it warm.  I use a pair of McDavid calf sleeves and I love them (http://amzn.to/1QZvvUX).

In short – the key is rest, stretch, strengthen, and slowly work your way back into your sport/activity of choice.  The second you try to rush back is when you’re going to be sent right back to square one.  Take your time, enjoy the process, and you’ll put an end to calf strains!

Additional thoughts:

  • If you’re an athlete you should STRONGLY consider taking up yoga – hot yoga if you’re feeling brave.
    • I made the mistake of trying out a yoga sculpt class – I’m a good sized-guy (6’2 245lbs.) and have been powerlifting for the last few years – yoga sculpt was a humbling 60 minutes … NEVER AGAIN!
  • Don’t be afraid to cut a running, lifting, etc. session short.  If things are feeling off there’s no shame in calling it a day – don’t be a hero.
  • Muscle imbalances can cause problems – start foam rolling (pick one of these up from Amazon for less than $20 http://amzn.to/1WsWbPz ) along with additional soft-tissue work.  If you aren’t doing so already look to incorporate some sort of strength-training into your weekly routine.
  • Recovering from a calf strain isn’t sexy, it takes LOTS of time and research.  Don’t rush it!
  • Go easy on the NSAID’s during your recovery