Category Archives: Running Science

Shepherdstown West Virginia: a Newtonian Community

Posted by on Tuesday, June 21, 2011 @ 1:04 pm | 2 Replies

In less than a year, Two Rivers Treads Center for Natural Running and Walking has sold over  1000 pair of Newton Running shoes. Newton Runner Dr. Mark Cucuzzella (pictured left) opened the concept store in June  2010.

Dr. Mark, one of the earliest adapters of Natural Running, began researching and learning about better running form after several foot operations in 2000. He discovered the effects of footwear affects as a runner for Brooks Sports and working on minimalist shoe projects. “By cutting the heels off shoes I understood the feel of zero-drop,” says Cucuzzella. “I didn’t need any more data to realize that elastic recoil and natural motion were enhanced with my foot in its anatomic position.”

When these projects were shelved, Dr. Mark contacted Newton Running‘s Danny Abshire, of who was building a shoe designed to facilitate proper running form. Dr. Mark and Newton Running continue to learn and evolve with  a common goal of having runners embrace the notion of “No Pain…Thank you”, not “No Pain…No Gain”.

In 2009 Shepherdstown started hosting running events that soon become the largest in the state.  There is now an entire Freedom’s Run Series of Events (www.freedomsrun.org) with partnerships with the National Parks.  The all-volunteer group builds trails and gardens for schools and has established the Historic Region as a National Heritage Area.

The events have grown such that a race headquarters was needed. Freedom’s Run race committee members Tom Shantz and James Munnis, stepped up to the challenge of creating a shoe store specializing in flat and minimalist shoes.

“The Sir Isaac Guidance Trainer has been an excellent and safe transitioning shoe for many new and experienced runners,” says Shantz. “It is durable and allows the feel and protection of a shoe as runners start to learn and understand better form at their own pace”

“We are big supporters of barefoot running as a supplement to land better and improve posture,” he adds. “Most who have not achieved proper strength, mobility and efficiency would trash a pure minimalist shoe and their bodies in two to three weeks. The resiliency and firmness of Newton Running’s midsole and its sustainable properties make it unique in the shoe market. We also teach the components of healthy movement in weekly clinics and at each customer interaction.”

The Distance Light Weight Trainer is the shoe of choice for State Champion Jefferson High School Cougars. Whereas most coach recommend cushioned trainers to their athletes, Jefferson Coach Scott Biola understands it is critical not to let his runners transition to a dysfunctional heel-to toe-pattern.  One Newton runner who has achieved great success is multiple state champion and 4:15-miler Brandon Doughty.  Brandon has but over 1200 miles in his Newton Running Gravity Neutral Performance Trainers and has avoided injury.  He will run for Oklahoma next year.  Five of Biola’s runners broke 10 minutes over 2 miles this year, when five years ago he would have had trouble finding five runners to break 5 minutes in a mile.

“Chi Running principles have helped me overcome my own injuries,” says Biola. “Getting away from heel striking is an essential aspects to teaching proper mechanics to high school athletes. I prefer to see them land on either the forefoot and rearfoot touching simultaneously or the ball of the foot (forefoot) touching first.”

“It seems that the older the athlete, the harder it is to transition away from the heel strike,” he adds. “Time spent in traditional training shoes definitely has a lot of us accustomed to heel striking. I’ve found that the Newton shoes and other lightweight minimalist models help reinforce proper mechanics. In addition to getting people away from heel striking, these shoes are also light in weight which is essential to having a rapid cadence. That quick turnover not only makes for faster running, it seems to help reduce injuries.”

Dr. Mark has these thoughts about the future: “We are seeing many runners now graduating into less shoe in a healthy and progressive way.  We look forward to the launch of the MV2 in the fall.  It will be a fresh option for those who have learned and evolved. The Isaac , Gravity, and Distance will continue to be our focus for the new and transitioning runners.  With over 1000 pair of these out now I have yet to hear of a customer or their doctor come back to us blaming the shoe. I give credit to my staff who teach patience and progression.”

After the lead of Two Rivers Treads, several stores are now opening with a similar model of selling only flat and minimalist shoes. They are aligning in a partnership and all are Newton Running retailers:

  • Born To Run; Bellevue, WA
  • Natural  Running Center; Dallas, TX
  • Good for the Soles; MA
  • Revolution Running; WI
  • The Runners Sole; Chambersburg PA
  • Hunter Gait; Newcastle, Australia

The store started in a 500-square-foot second-story space and just last week moved to a beautiful  new street level space with triple the space and a new visibility.  The future looks bright for both Newton and Two Rivers Treads.  Two Rivers Treads wishes to thank the support of Newton for a successful first  year. Newton has also been instrumental in the success of Freedom’s Run as a major sponsor (www.freedomsrun.org)  and the US Air Force Running Team, of which I have been a part of for almost 20 years.

Meet Dr. Mark and learn about Newton Natural Running at this weekend’s Running Injury Prevention Conference in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Click here for more details and registration.

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Running Injury Prevention Conference and Coaching Certification June 23-26

Posted by on Tuesday, June 14, 2011 @ 2:06 pm | Leave a reply

The highly successful “New Trends in the Prevention of Running Injuries” is returning to Shepherdstown, West Virginia, and this time, is paired with a Newton Natural Running™ Coaching Certification Program.

Citing more than a thousand scientific articles and systematic reviews, this edition of New Trends in the Prevention of Running Injuries questions many current practices in the treatment of both runners and non-runners alike. With high quality audio-visual material, this course will integrate the theory and practice of a number of advanced concepts on running.

Topics include:

  • Injury etiology and theory
  • Diagnosis and treatment of injury
  • Planning of training sessions
  • Evidence based stretching and strength training
  • Biomechanical gait analyses taught by the world’s expert Jay Dicharry
  • Analysis of the running shoe
  • Teaching barefoot running style with Dr. Mark Cucuzzella recently presented at 2011 Boston Marathon See video
  • Optional group runs with experts in the field

The three-day course will enable you to efficiently treat your patients whether they are runners or active in other sports. You will leave with clinical tools such as a DVD (running mechanics, demo exercises, warm-up sequence, etc.), a CD with a PDF document (evaluation sheets, exercise programs, tips, running programs) and portfolio that includes all the academic content of the course.

The course is instructed by three internationally known teachers and leaders in running medicine:

  • Blaise Dubois is a physiotherapist who teaches at the Faculty of Medicine at Laval University. Blaise has developed the Running Clinic Canada and has taught over 50 conferences around the world. His involvement with the Canadian athletics team has led him to travel around the world enriching his knowledge and adapting his clinical approach.
  • Jay Dicharry is a physiotherapist at the University of Virginia and director of the SPEED Clinic. Jay is the world’s leader in gait analysis and running injury evaluation and treatment.  Runners of all abilities travel from around the world to visit his treatment center.  He has published dozens of studies and reviews and teaches around the country.
  • Dr. Mark Cucuzzella, the conference host, is one of the world’s leaders on teaching gait mechanics and injury prevention.  He is an authority on footwear and in the small town of Shepherdstown, West Virginia he opened Two Rivers Treads Center for Natural Running and Walking- the first store focusing exclusively on flat and minimal shoes. In his spare time he directs the Freedom’s Run Series of Events and continues to run at an elite level as a Masters runner.
  • Dr. Robert Wilder is Chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Virginia and Director of the Runners Clinic.  He has published several texts and articles on running injury, prevention, and treatment.

Gifts, snacks, networking, and free monthly updated literature are some of the many extras you will receive by attending the 24-hour training course. Register now….course limited to 30 participants.  24 hours of CME approved for physicians and physical therapists.

Date: June 23 – 25, followed by the optional Newton Natural Running Coaching Certification Program on June 26. (see below for details).
Program  8:00 a.m.to 5:00 p.m.

Special rate $545 (usually $650 USD in Europe and Canada)

Military rate $495

Location: Bavarian Inn
Shepherdstown, West Virginia
304-876-2551
www.bavarianinnwv.com special rate $119/night

Register here at The Running Clinic.

Newton Running Natural Running Coaching Certification Program

Following the three-day course, participants may also take place in a one-day intensive Newton Natural Running™ Coaching Certification Program at Two Rivers Treads in Sheperdstown, West Virginia on June 26. This is normally a three-day program.

The registration free of $250 includes a pair of Newton Running shoes, Natural Running book by Danny Abshire and running apparel. (Exception: Newton Running retailers are free). **You must attend the New Trends in Running Conference to register for this coaching certification program**

Newton Natural Running™ form coaching certification provides coaches with knowledge designed to assist clients with efficient running form, injury prevention and training goals.

Newton Natural Running™ Form Coaching Certification requires participants to:

  • Practice a Newton Natural Running™ form
  • Attend a three day coaching certification clinic
  • Pass written, oral and/or practical examination

Certified Newton Natural Running™ Form Coaches can:

  • Teach and analyze Newton Natural Running™ form
  • Present Newton Natural Running™ talks and clinics
  • Use Newton Natural Running™ certified logos and marks
  • Obtain a free listing on newtonrunning.com
  • Get discounts on Newton Running products
  • Become a Newton Running Affiliate

Cost: $250 (free for Newton Running retailers)
Location: Two Rivers Treads, 113 W. German Street, Sheperdstown, WV
Time: 8:00 am to 3:00 p.m.
To register, contact Dr. Mark Cucuzella at mark [at] freedomsrun.org
For more information, visit: http://www.newtonrunning.com/community/running-coach-certification

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Causes and Treatment of Plantar Fasciitis

Posted by on Monday, March 14, 2011 @ 8:40 am | 1 Reply

This post is by Dr. Mark Cucuzella, a Family Physician at Harpers Ferry Family Medicine and Associate Professor at West Virginia University School of Medicine.

The plantar fascia (PF) is a strong ligament that runs from the heel to the metatarsal heads in the front of your foot. This ligament helps absorb the shock that occurs when your foot contacts the ground. It has function in the windlass mechanism recreating the arch on takeoff.

Plantar fasciitis is the common term for what should be more accurately termed Plantar Fasciosis. itits is an acute inflammation caused by a trauma or infection. osis is chronic degenerative condition.

No evidence exists for an ideal treatment of this condition without identifying and treating the causes, which can be many. Since we have no literature to guide us, I offer this advice based on my experience treating hundreds of runners and guiding them in self corrections.

What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?

The PF is designed to manage a relatively small amount of stress. The intrinsic and extrinsic muscles of the foot are designed to receive signals from the fascia and in turn manage the majority of the load. When those muscles are dysfunctional, the load is transferred to the PF, which is unable to handle it, and results in tearing.

You can repair these tears by using palliative methods, but PF may return as soon as you resume running. The only way that you can actually fix plantar fasciitis is to address the root cause: weak foot muscles. (Thank you Lance from Barefoot Science for the insight).

Several structural causes can contribute to PF:

  • Weak intrinsic foot muscles
  • A misaligned and weak first toe
  • Tight, shortened calf muscles
  • Tight plantar fascia

Other important contributing factors:

  • Increased mechanical stress from running or other activity
  • Obesity
  • Suddenly switching from supportive footwear that inhibit intrinsic foot muscles to flat shoes (flip flops) or barefoot
  • Poor walking and running mechanics
  • Wearing overly supportive footwear weaken the foot and make it less stable.

How Do You Correct Plantar Fasciitis?
Continue reading

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Natural Running as Positive Deviance?

Posted by on Thursday, February 3, 2011 @ 11:28 am | 1 Reply

Over 150 people turned out (and another 50 or so were turned away due to lack of space) for last week’s speaker panel  discussion about natural running in Sheperdstown, West Virginia.

Event attendee and blogger Pete Larson (www.runblogger.com) was struck by the turnout in a small town in West Virginia, which has a reputation as one of America’s most obese states. “I couldn’t believe it!” Larson wrote on his blog. “Here we were in a state renowned for it’s inactivity, and I had to weave my way through a crowd of people who were squeezing into a room like sardines.”

Dr. Mark Cucuzella, organizer of the event, titled The Re-Evolution of Running: Discover Pain Free Movement for Life, attributes to tremendous response to a phenomenon called positive deviance. “That’s when large change happens as a result of observing and following what is happening in a small sector, and then applying it widely,” he says.

Cucuzella is also a family doctor and owner of Two Rivers Treads Center for Natural Running and Walking store in Sheperdstown, West Virginia.

Blogger Miss Zippy shares in this recent post what she learned from the panel of experts that included Danny Dreyer, founder of ChiRunning, Jerry Lee, CEO of Newton Running, Dr. Jay Dicharry, PT and Director of the SPEED Clinic at the University of Virginia, Dr. Peter Larson, Blaise Dubois, running injury authority, among others.

Natural running symposia are held across the country and overseas. For a complete listing of upcoming events, visit the Newton Running website at http://www.newtonrunning.com/community/natural-running-symposium-form-clinic.

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Special Presentation on Pain-free Movement January 28

Posted by on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 @ 1:30 pm | 2 Replies

Running-injury prevention leaders from around the globe are gathering in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, for a three-day conference to discuss best evidence and best practices to prevent and treat running injuries. As part of the gathering, the group will meet the local community and share stories, experience and knowledge.

“The Re-Evolution of Running: Discover Pain Free Movement for Life” will be hosted by Two Rivers Treads Center for Natural Running and Walking, the Bavarian Inn, and the Running Clinic Canada on Friday night January 28, 7 to 9 p.m. at the Bavarian Inn.

Guest panelists include leading clinicians, researchers, teachers, writers, athletes and footwear experts from around the globe:

Danny Dreyer

  • Founder: Chi Running and Chi Walking
  • Asheville, NC; Internationally-acclaimed injury-prevention coach, ultramarathoner and best-selling author

Dr. Craig Richards

  • Newcastle, Australia; General Practice, Sports Medicine, Runner
  • One of world’s lead researchers on running injuries and footwear

Jay Dicharry, PT

  • Director SPEED Clinic University of Virginia
  • International Authority on Gait Analysis and Running Injury

Dr. Peter Larson

  • Professor of Biology St. Anshelm College New Hampshire, Marathon runner
  • Author/host of world’s most widely read site on running innovation- www.runblogger.com

Blaise Dubois PT/Sean Cannon, PT

  • Quebec City, Canada; International Leaders in running injuries
  • Authors and Instructors of over 40 international conferences

Jerry Lee

  • Boulder, Colorado; Co-Founder and CEO Newton Running
  • Innovator in first shoe company with primary mission of injury prevention.  Ironman competitor

Ian Adamson, MS Sports Med/BS Biomechanical Engineering

  • Boulder, Colorado; Director of Research & Education-Newton
  • Ultramarathoner and 7-time world champ Adventure Racer

Dr. Daniel Kulund, USAF

  • Chief Health Promotions Pentagon
  • Physician, Innovator of Running Medicine. Opened first true “Runners Clinic” in the 1970’s.

Dr. Mark Cucuzzella,

  • West Virginia University, Coach USAF Running Team, National Level Masters Runner
  • National speaker/teacher of healthier running; sub 2:35 marathons in 4 decades

Jeff Horowitz

  • Arlington, Virginia; Editor at Competitor Magazine

Speakers will share their most important discoveries and then allow questions and conversation with the audience.

“This is an amazing privilege to have all of these leaders in one room together willing to share and converse with the public,” says Mark Cucuzzella, MD. Over 60 percent of runners are injured every year. If the CDC were to evaluate this data they would shut down running events. Insurance companies now are reevaluating the advice to get fit if it involves running and the subsequent injuries and costs of expensive imaging studies and treatments. We need to develop entirely new approaches to running injuries and staying healthy for life”

The event is free to the public and geared toward walkers and runners of all abilities.

Date: January 28 2011, 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Location: Bavarian Inn, Shepherdstown, WV  25443, www.bavarianinnwv.com

Free to the public.  Coffee and dessert will be provided. Cash bar.

For those wishing to dine prior to the event, call the Bavarian Inn at 304-876-2551 to make a reservation.

For more information, contact  Two Rivers Treads Center for Natural Running and Walking or  phone 304-876-1100.

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The World is Flat if You’re a Foot

Posted by on Wednesday, August 4, 2010 @ 2:14 pm | 1 Reply

 

Screen shot 2010-08-04 at 3.13.05 PMDr. Mark Cucuzzella just passed us along a document outlining foot anatomy and biomechanics, barefoot motion, the effects of heel lift, shoe design flaws and myths, and proper toe alignment.

It makes for an interesting read—especially for any science nerds out there. Click the link to download the full document. The most interesting part is that it lays out the facts about how a foot works and is not Newton marketing material, but comes to the same conclusions that we believe in when it comes to proper footwear.

 

The World is Flat….if You Are a Foot

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Form Drills for Natural Running

Posted by on Thursday, July 1, 2010 @ 7:30 am | 4 Replies

By Danny Abshire, co-founder, Newton Running

No one has perfect running form, but everyone can improve their running mechanics. Doing so can make you a more efficient runner, which means you’ll use less energy in every stride and boost your running economy (the ability to process oxygen efficiently while running). Ultimately, improved form can make you faster and less prone to overuse injuries. Screen shot 2010-06-30 at 5.01.13 PM

One of the primary ways to improve your running technique is through form drills. Form drills are easy to do and don’t take a lot of time, but they’re often overlooked, forgotten or ignored when a workout is completed. Taking an extra 5 to 15 minutes to do form drills a several times per week can make you more fluid, more efficient and even faster for both short and long distances.

Most drills take the aspects of good form — a compact arm swing, soft footstrikes with the midfoot under your center of mass, quick leg turnover, an upright posture with a slight forward lean at the ankles — and accentuate it in a repetitive motion that trains the body to be comfortable with that movement during your regular running mechanics. Some drills are aimed at building smaller muscles (such as the intrinsic group and lumbrical group in the foot), while others help your neuromuscular system fire quicker.

Do one set of each drill three to five times per week. You can do the drills before or after your regular workout, but doing them after a workout can be especially helpful in loosening muscular tightness brought on during your run.

1) Run in Place

This sounds simple, and it is, but it requires an adherence to good form in a semi-stationary setting while varying your cadence from high to very high. If you’re following the aspects of good form, you should be moving forward slightly because your momentum and a slight lean from the ankles will carry you forward.

While you’re doing this drill, think about each element individually — a compact and consistent arm swing, light, mostly flat, midfoot/forefoot footstrikes, a steady but relaxed head, jaw, neck, shoulders and torso — and how each plays into the bigger picture of your running form.

This drill is especially effective in teaching your body to increase leg cadence (optimally to 180 steps per minute) and learning how to lift your leg to start a stride instead of pushing off. Do three 15-second sessions per set.

2) Jump Rope

Jumping rope is simple, but as a drill it’s not going to help your running unless you’re doing it right. Jumping rope can instill the soft, midfoot/forefoot landings we aim for while running. Your body will naturally not let you land on your heel — especially if you’re jumping rope barefoot — because landing on your heels would inflict too much force on the bones, muscles and other tissue in your heels, ankles and legs.

It can also emphasize elastic recoil, as your heel settles on the ground before a new stride begins. Jumping rope also reinforces the notion that a new stride should begin by lifting your leg instead of pushing off. As you jump off the ground, focus on lightly lifting your feet off the ground instead of forcefully pushing off the ground.

Alter your tempo between slow, medium and fast speeds, all while concentrating on the tenets of good running form. Each set should be 15-20 seconds in duration.

3) High Knees

Running in place with high knees is another drill that accentuates lifting your foot off the ground instead forcefully pushing off to begin a new stride. This is essentially jogging in place, alternately lifting your knees to a 90-degree angle with your thighs parallel to the ground.

As with the jog in place drill, your slight forward lean and the momentum gained in this drill will gradually move you forward. Be sure to focus on soft, run midfoot and forefoot footstrikes, using your core to lower your leg down slowly instead of letting it crash to the ground.

This drill requires and also helps instill a compact and consistent arm swing, even though your arms might cycle slightly slower to coincide with the longer hang time of your legs. The motion of your arms will actually help you lift a foot off the ground to start a new stride and keep you balanced. (Briefly try this drill with your arms stationary at your sides and you’ll find yourself forcefully pushing your feet off the ground and you’ll have a more difficult time keeping balanced.)

Keep your torso, head and shoulders relaxed and fairly still during this drill and avoid too much vertical oscillation with your center of mass. Each set should consist of 20 high-knee thrusts or 10 elevations of each knee.

4) Butt Kicks

Butt Kicks accentuate the recovery portion of the running gait phase. Instead of using your hamstring to lift your leg off the ground, think about alternately flicking your lower leg backward with the use of your quadriceps and hamstring muscles then dropping it back down to the ground under the center of your mass.

The movement should be quick and pronounced but relaxed so that you’re able to return your foot to the ground softly at the midfoot. As with High Knees, a compact and consistent arm swing is crucial to keeping your balance and maintaining a high cadence. Each set should consist of 20 butt kick strides or 10 elevations of each leg.

5) Skipping 1 – Quick Skip

The goal of this drill is to quicken the timing of your neuromuscular system so you can increase your running cadence to 180 steps per minute or slightly faster. As you quickly pick up one leg off the ground with the start of a stride, the other foot skips off the ground with two small and quick hops before the legs alternate.

There is a staccato sensation to this drill when it’s done correctly, but the more you practice it the easier you’ll fall into a consistent rhythm. A compact and very quick arm swing is crucial to keeping your balance and maintaining a high cadence. Each set should consist of about 15 to 20 seconds of skipping.

6) Skipping 2 – Slow Skip

Unlike the previous drill, this is a slow-action skipping drill that accentuates the high knee action of the lifted leg during a running stride. With this drill, you’ll practice lifting your leg off the ground to being a new stride instead of pushing off the ground. To extend the duration of the lifted leg in the air, you’ll skip with the opposite foot.

The rhythm of this drill will also have a staccato effect, but it will be much slower in nature. A compact, slow arm swing will keep your balance and allow you to maintain a high cadence. Each set should consist of about 15 to 20 seconds of skipping.

7) Donkey Kicks

It seems like a silly name, but it looks just like it sounds like. Begin with a straight, slightly forward-leaning posture, a compact arm swing, level hips and flexed ankles and knees of the athletic “ready” position. Pull one leg backwards as if you’re kicking something behind you.

While balancing on the midfoot area of the stationary leg, repeatedly pull the kicking leg backward, then allowing it to recoil forward. This drill accentuates good hip extension and teaches your body to make footstrikes under your center of mass. Do 10 kicks with each leg per set.

8 ) Arm Pull Backs

This drill accentuates the proper motion of the arms during the gait cycle by highlighting the posterior portion of the compact arm swing. Begin with a level head and shoulders, keeping a straight spine with a slightly forward-leaning posture between the chin and hips. Alternate pushing your arms backwards as they are held at 90 degrees (or less).

The key is keeping your arms swinging in a plane parallel to your torso and not rotating your body to assist the movement. Do a total of 20 alternating pull backs per set, 10 with each side.

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

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Newton Running’s Take on Barefoot Running

Posted by on Friday, January 29, 2010 @ 2:13 pm | 3 Replies

In the past few days we’ve been inundated with calls and messages from friends, customers and fans asking, “Did you see NPR.org barefoot running story or
BBC barefoot running story story about barefoot running?”

The answer is yes, we’ve seen Dr. Lieberman’s studies at Harvard and it clearly validates what Newton Running is all about.

Please read the open letter below from Newton Running co-founder Danny Abshire and our Director of Education, Ian Adamson.

Our Take on Barefoot Running

Many of you have seen or heard the numerous national news stories about barefoot running in the past few days. This news comes on the heels of the recently published study, Foot strike patterns and collision forces in habitually barefoot versus shod runners by Harvard University anthropologist Dan Lieberman.

Dr. Lieberman and colleagues concluded that modern, cushioned running shoes change the way humans run and hypothesize based on their biomechanical findings that forefoot and some midfoot strikes may make runners less prone to some kinds of injury. (He explains his hypothesis in this video).

That comes as no surprise to us at Newton Running. Our company was founded on the belief that the lifted heel in modern running shoes promotes improper form and can contribute to various injuries. Our shoes are designed specifically to accommodate and enhance natural running foot-strike and gait and are based on decades of research and observation on shoe technology and running mechanics.

Running barefoot is not a viable option for most people, except for short training sessions on forgiving surfaces. Plus, the transition to barefoot running or ultra-minimalist shoes can be difficult and/or painful for runners who have spent their whole lives running in heavily cushioned and overly structured shoes.

Newton Running shoes feature a geometry and design that facilitates your natural gait and protects you from harsh running surfaces. We offer the only viable alternative to both modern running shoes and barefoot/ultra-minimalist shoe running.

Newton Running Shoe Design

1. Typical running shoes feature a thick, padded heel and a steep heel-to-forefoot ramp angle (gradient), which encourages heavy heel striking, increases shock loads and dampens afferent feedback (the ability to sense the surface under your shoes). Newton Running shoes have a negligible gradient (between 1% and 3%), which allows your foot to land with a reduced impact and take advantage of your body’s natural suspension system. (click images to enlarge)

heelprofile_illo

2. Newton Running shoes provide industry-leading impact force reduction and energy return with our proprietary Action/Reaction Technology™ strategically placed on the sweet spot under your forefoot.

sweetspot

3. Newton Running shoes are built with a biomechanical plate positioned directly under your metatarsals to enhance afferent feedback and allow your feet to spread naturally under load. The soft foam in regular running shoes dampens and blocks valuable protective feedback at foot strike. Without feeling the ground, runners will impact and push harder, creating the possibility for injury.

4. The anatomically designed upper and midsole allows your foot to move naturally throughout the gait cycle. In contrast, most modern running shoes are highly structured, rigidly encasing your foot and preventing natural movement. Over time, this weakens the foot and creates overuse of propulsive muscles/tendons, increasing the likelihood of running injuries.

Coaches around the world routinely use barefoot drills to improve running form. Newton Running has created the first natural running shoes for everyday training and racing that encourage barefoot running form. Join us in the Natural Running revolution.

Sincerely,

Danny Abshire Co-founder and CTO
Ian Adamson Director of Research and Education

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Do Running Shoes Cause Injury? Our Response

Posted by on Tuesday, January 12, 2010 @ 12:00 pm | 15 Replies

Newton Running shoes are minimalist in that they have a heel-to-drop between 1 and 3%, depending on the model.

 

There’s a great discussion going on over at RunnersWorld.com about a new study that links running shoes to injuries here. Here are a few thoughts that our Director of Education, Ian Adamson, would like to add to the dialogue:

  • There are several on-going, multi-year studies at Harvard, MIT and the University of Newcastle (AUS) that are looking at injury related to footwear. Harvard department of Anthropology is about to publish a study that dissects unshod human running gait and injury (or lack thereof.)
  • If the only injury from running shoes is Achilles tendinitis, is the implication that the other “running related injuries” such as neuromas, plantar fascitis, blisters, bunions and joint problems would be present in if people didn’t run?

How Shoe Geometry Affects Running Gait

I’m on the front line seeing runners who present with all of the above and more, and the vast majority are treatable with appropriate shoes (the closer a shoe reflects the geometry of the foot the better, although protection from man-made and unnatural surfaces is prudent), especially a lower heel/ramp angle combined with proper form coaching.

There is no doubt in my experience (running competitively since 1973, 12 years as a professional athlete, 10 years in the shoe industry, 10 years as a bio-mechanical engineer) that lifted heels in running shoes introduce an unnatural geometry that interferes with our natural (and injury protective) gait.

Ramp Angle Comparison in Minimalist Shoes

It would take a lot to convince me that strapping 1/2 to 1″ foam to your heel doesn’t alter your stride. If you cut virtually any running shoe lengthwise you can see the drop from heel to the ball of the foot. The Nike Shox as noted above is one of the worst offenders. It used to be that 24 mm heel height (1 inch) and 12 mm (1/2″) forefoot was standard, but those numbers have changed dramatically in the last few years. Some popular running shoes are up to 35 mm in the heel.

The old standard drop (24-12) gives an 8% grade in a Men’s US size 9 shoe, but most are now far in excess of that, up to 15% in some cases. An 8% road grade (rise/ run as a %) is where most states give truckers a warning. Racing flats can be better in terms of being more level, but virtually none are actually level. The best on the market are:

It is interesting to note that some perceived “flat” shoes are not: Nike Free 5.0 (10 mm/6.7%), Nike Zoom Streak XC (11 mm/7.3 %), Nike Luna Racer (12 mm/8.0%), Brooks T6 (13 mm/8.7%). On the other end of the spectrum, the Brooks Beast has a 16 mm drop and 10.7% grade.

My personal experience: ran track and cross country barefoot and injury free through high school. Ran in Dunlop Volley tennis shoes through college (no heel lift http://www.volleys.com.au/flash/index.html), injury free. Was given a “modern” running shoe with a heel lift by a sponsor in 1989 and sustained my first running related injuries. Started back with level shoes again in 2007 (Newton) and viola, injuries gone.

–Ian Adamson

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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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