Category Archives: Overcoming Injury

Height of Heel Matters in Foot Pain Prevention

Posted by on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 @ 2:56 pm | 3 Replies

Chungli Wang

This interesting study published in the November issue of Foot & Ankle International (FAI), the official scientific journal of the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS), details the biomechanical changes that occur in feet during high heel wear and the correlation between the heel height and amount of pain, pressure and strain it puts on your feet.

The study was conducted on people walking, not running in high heels, but it’s reasonable to assume that the forces involved in running in a 1/2” heel lift are considerably higher than walking.

The study’s authors suggest limiting heel height as well as the use of padding at the ball of the foot can significantly reduce discomfort and risk of injury to the metatarsal heads.

Newton Running Performance Racers have a 2 mm drop from heel to toe, the Performance Trainers are 3 mm and Guidance Trainers (Sir and Lady Isaac) are 5 mm. The typical running shoe has a heel lift of a 1/2 inch or more. You do the math.

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Preventing Stress Fractures

Posted by on Thursday, December 3, 2009 @ 11:44 am | 4 Replies

Earlier this week, the New York Times published an interesting story about a common injury that many, many runners suffer from – stress fractures. The article references a new study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise which, “offers hope that, at least for runners, simple alterations in their stride or in the strength of their legs might reduce their risk for the most common type of stress fracture.”

I’d encourage you to read the whole article, but here’s the most salient point:

“The researchers determined that reducing stride length by about 10 percent seemed to reduce the stress on the tibia enough to lower the risk of a stress fracture.

Why, though, should shortening your stride affect your tibia at all? “Think of it this way,” says Brent Edwards, lead author of the study and now a post-doctoral research fellow in the Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition at the University of Illinois, in Chicago. “If you spend less time in the flight phase of running” — meaning in the air — “you’ll hit the ground with less force.” On the other hand, you’ll hit the ground more often. But in Mr. Edwards’s models, the reduction in pounding from an abbreviated stride outweighed the shock from a few additional strides per mile.”

Shortening your stride is one of the key tenets of the proper running form that Newton teaches (see #3 on our 10 Laws of Running Better). Running coaches like Danny Abshire have known for years that over-striding can lead to injuries, and now it’s nice to have some empirical data to back it up.

Also, here’s a great image the Denver Post ran a few months ago that illustrates many of the benefits of proper natural running form.

barefoot-running-b


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Newtons Are Just What the Doctor Ordered

Posted by on Tuesday, September 22, 2009 @ 9:36 am | 5 Replies

Dr. Segler

This morning we received a very in-depth Newton shoe review from Dr. Christopher Segler, a renowned podiatrist, foot surgeon and Iromnan finisher based in Chattanooga.

The full review is posted below, but for the time-challenged, here’s his overall impression:

“I can say that for me personally, I believe Newton Gravity Trainers are proving to be a valuable training tool and are changing the way I run for the better. As an award-winning podiatrist and foot surgeon caring for athletes, I would recommended Newtons to any of my patients who have had a history of injury, or simply hope to run more efficiently.  It seems the greatest benefit is, of course, for those demanding efficiency such as marathoners and Ironman triathletes.”

Newton Running Shoe Review
by Dr. Christopher Segler

Why I Decided to Write This Review

There are really two reasons I decided to write this review of Newton Gravity Performance Trainers. The first has to do with the fact that I am an award-winning foot surgeon and podiatrist who has chosen to limit my practice to elite, competitive and recreational athletes. For this reason, I get questions about running shoes from a lot of runners.  I am frequently asked about “new trends in barefoot running” as well as about shoes like Newtons that reportedly create more of a barefoot-type running experience. I always prefer to answer such questions on the basis of scientific theory as well as personal experience.

The second reason is that I am an age-group Ironman triathlete who has aspirations of qualifying for Kona one day. So I have a very personal interest in discovering any and every way to increase my own biomechanical efficiency, decrease my risk of injury, and run faster.  Newtons (in theory) should to do all three, so I thought I should give them a try.

Continue reading

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Cities x Design stops by Newton Running

Posted by on Friday, August 28, 2009 @ 8:24 am | 2 Replies

A film crew from Cities x Design stopped by our offices a couple weeks ago to talk with Danny and Ian about Newton’s design philosophy and shoe technology. Check out the results below.

Cities x Design is a 35-city trans-media research trip across the United States recorded online and later to be released in film, exhibition and print. Cities x Design is laying the groundwork for new thinking that promotes local creativity and design practices that add value to cities. The mission is to connect cities, cultures and creative people in order to demonstrate how investing in design can change perceptions, boost economies and create unique places.

Very cool!

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How to Reduce and Avoid Common Running Injuries

Posted by on Monday, June 22, 2009 @ 8:18 am | 7 Replies

Efficient form and lightweight shoes are the keys to staying healthy

By Danny Abshire, co-founder, Newton Running

Do you think a running shoe with a thickly cushioned heel pad and rigid medial post can keep you from suffering common running injuries such as plantar fasciitis, iliotibial band syndrome or shin splits? Think again.

Recent research and news reports are confirming what those close to the sport have known for years: running shoes with thick midsoles, extensive anti-pronation devices and large heel crash pads don’t prevent injuries.

The key to preventing running injuries is to run with lightweight shoes and efficient, low-impact running form. Running in heavy, overbuilt running shoes can put more strain on a runner’s body, reduce proprioception necessary to engage proper form and make a runner’s feet and lower legs overwork braking and propulsive muscles and connective tissue — a combination which can actually make a runner more prone to common overuse injuries.

A recent study at the University of Newcastle in Australia concluded there is no scientific evidence to support claims that running shoes with elevated heel crash pads and elaborate anti-pronation systems prevent injuries in runners. The findings have been published in the March 2009 edition of the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

“Since the 1980s, distance running shoes with thick, heavily cushioned heels and features to control how much the heel rolls in, have been consistently recommended to runners who want to avoid injury,” Dr. Craig Richards, one of the researchers, said in a press release announcing the results of the study. “We did not identify a single study that has attempted to measure the effect of this shoe type on either injury rates or performance. This means there is no scientific evidence that [those shoes] provide any benefit to distance runners.”

Dutch researchers have previously found that between 37 and 56 percent of recreational runners become injured at least once each year. The most common maladies are found in the feet and lower legs, but others include pelvis and lower back injuries.

“Not only can we no longer recommend a shoe [with an elevated heel and pronation control system], but the lack of research in this area means that we cannot currently make any evidence-based shoe recommendations to runners,” Richards said in the release. “To resolve this uncertainty, running shoes need to be tested like any other medical treatment, in carefully controlled clinical trials.

“This will ensure that only running shoes with proven benefits can be marketed and sold as therapeutic devices. Until this occurs, health professionals will not know whether the distance running shoes they are recommending are beneficial, harmless or harmful.”

A recent story in the London Daily Mail confirmed what the Australian report suggested in an excerpt from a new book called “Born to Run” by journalist Christopher McDougal. That story referenced Dr. Daniel Lieberman, professor of biological anthropology at Harvard University, who offered the startling conclusion that: “A lot of foot and knee injuries currently plaguing us are caused by people running with shoes that actually make our feet weak, cause us to overpronate (ankle rotation) and give us knee problems.”

To run efficiently, you have to understand your body and how it naturally moves across a surface with as little muscular force as possible. The tenants of good running form include running with short strides and a quick cadence, landing lightly on the midfoot/forefoot area (the ball of the foot, but not the toes), and quickly lifting your foot off the ground instead of pushing off with excessive muscle force. A slight forward lean and a relaxed arm swing are also key components.

To illustrate what Newton Running calls the “Land-Lever-Lift” technique, take the simple test of running barefoot across a smooth floor. More than likely, you’re naturally going to land lightly at your midfoot/forefoot and quickly pick up your foot to start a new stride. Your body doesn’t allow you to land on your heels because it isn’t engineered to accommodate the blunt force trauma of repeated heel striking. Unfortunately, most contemporary running shoes have been designed for running form that demands heavy heel striking and dampens the afferent feedback which allows the foot to sense the ground.

Two of the biggest mistakes distance runners can fall prey to are 1) excessive heel striking that causes abrupt braking of forward momentum, and then pushing off too hard with the toes to start the forward motion again; or 2) using only propulsive muscles,(the calf group, hamstrings and Achilles tendon) by running too far up on their toes like a sprinter and not using the body’s natural cushioning system. Each of those form flaws puts too much vertical movement into every stride, and that leads to inefficiency and considerably more impact, muscle and tendon stress on the body.

Danny Abshire is the co-founder of Newton Running, a Boulder, Colo.-based company that makes shoes that promote an efficient midfoot running gait. He has been making advanced footwear solutions for runners and triathletes for more than 20 years.

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Popular Mechanics: How Barefoot Runners Shape the Shoe Industry

Posted by on Monday, May 4, 2009 @ 8:31 am | 18 Replies

popularmechanicsThe Popular Mechanics website recently featured an interesting, if somewhat controversial, story about barefoot running and the shoe industry.

The background and science referenced in the article support the entire premise upon which Newton Running is based. Namely, humans evolved to run on their forefeet, not their heels. But, the running shoe industry has been building shoes with exaggerated heel cushioning for over twenty years and thus millions of runners have learned to be heel-strikers.

Newton Running believes that forefoot/midfoot running is the most natural, efficient running form and our shoe technology is based upon that philosophy.

Check out this quote from the Popular Mechanics story:

“Sean Murphy, manager of advanced product engineering at New Balance, says shoe companies often fall back on what he calls the 22-12 solution-placing 22 millimeters of material under the heel of the shoe and 12 millimeters under the forefoot. “Shoe companies have been stuck in the paradigm of the 22-12 for years,” Murphy says, and people buy them in part because it’s the feel they’ve grown accustomed to. “We’re just now building products for people who tend to run more on their forefoot, like many ultramarathoners.”

Newton Running shoes measure 22 – 18 mm for the Racers, 23 – 18 mm for the Trainers.

shoe-testing-470-858-0409All the major shoe companies are still testing the heel cushioning on their shoes. Newton, on the other hand, has been rigorously testing forefoot impact on its shoes, compared to other top selling brands. Check out these results provided by Knight Mechanical Testing. (Click images to enlarge).

 




Measurement of Forefoot Shock Absorption

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Measurement of Forefoot Energy Return

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To summarize these tests:

A runner in the Brooks T-5 would feel:

  • 69% higher shock load on foot strike than the Newton Motion All Weather
  • 80% higher shock at 250 miles
  • 83% higher shock at 500 miles

A runner in the Newton Motion All Weather would experience:

  • 27% higher energy return than the Asics GT 2120 at 50 miles
  • 28% higher energy return at 250 miles
  • 26% higher energy return at 500 miles

Newton Running is clearly on the forefront of a revolution in the running world. Read the full Popular Mechanics story here.

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The (Popular) Science of Newton

Posted by on Friday, March 6, 2009 @ 9:43 am | 4 Replies

Although he doesn’t actually test Newton shoes, Adam Weiner from Popular Science offers an interesting take on the science of Newton Running technology in this article, Will Barefoot Running Cure What Ails Us? I love his intro:

“First of all, let’s set the record straight. Man is a natural long distance runner. Despite impressions to the contrary foisted on us daily from our predominantly sedentary and ‘well-fed’ modern lifestyle, it is interesting to note that for long enough distances a well-trained human can outrun just about any other creature on the planet.”

Weiner then further evaluates:

“In fact, consider the following: Man evolved to run barefoot, and shoes arrived on the scene only in the last few tens of thousands of years or so. Try running barefoot some time (preferably on a softer surface like grass) and pay attention to your foot strikes. You might find that it’s almost impossible to land heel first. Your command central (your brain) just won’t let you do it. Too much jarring. Your bare heel isn’t designed to handle that pounding. The evidence supports that landing nearer the middle to front of the foot is the most efficient way to go.”

Check out the full Popular Science story here.  We’re going to try and get Mr. Weiner in some Newtons so he can actually try them for himself.

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