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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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Newton 24 & 8 Hours of Triathlon

Posted by on Friday, September 18, 2009 @ 2:11 pm | 1 Reply

24HrsTri284Ian Adamson, our full-time director of product development and part-time race director extraordinaire, just reminded us next weekend is the 24 Hours of Triathlon here in Boulder. This race is super fun and an awesome test of endurance. There’s a category for just about everyone – from solo to teams of 4+ people.

Sign up here.

If you need added incentive:

ALL ENTRANTS RECEIVE
FREE Newton Running Shoes with donation toe RACC
• $40 technical running top
• $20 technical running cap
• $16 sport towel
• Swim cap
• Finisher medal
• Sponsor sample bag

Ian is also looking for volunteers:
• Volunteer for the whole race and get a pair of award winning Zeal Sunglasses.
• Meet fun, energetic and great people.
• Receive a free tech shirt, tech hat and sport towel ($76 value)
• Take part in a unique one of a kind event.
• Market your club or organization for free for 24 hours.
• Get involved in your community.
• Help others in reach their goals.
• Get a discount on Newton Running shoes.
• Beats 8 hours at the office!

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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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Just Another Day at the Newton Office

Posted by on Tuesday, May 12, 2009 @ 8:15 am | 1 Reply

Here at Newton Running, we like to perform rigorous product testing. Last week, we were testing the stickiness of the rubber on our shoe outsoles.

Anne and Rich testing the grip on Newton's outsoles

Newton VP Anne and money man Rich testing the grip on Newton's outsoles.

(Ok, not really. We had a team building day at the office that ended with a rappel off the top of our building in downtown Boulder, CO. I guess this is what happens when your product development director is also a world-champion adventure racer).

Ian setting the rig for Erica and ???

Ian setting the rig for Newton's international/legal pro Erica and Newton's president, Stephen.

Ian and Danny - Newton's product design mad scientists

Ian and Danny - Newton's product designers/mad scientists

Newton co-founder Jerry Lee and ???

Newton co-founder Jerry Lee and warehouse king, Hawk

??? and Erica

Danny and Customer Service Queen, Tory

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Newton Rocks at Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon

Posted by on Wednesday, January 21, 2009 @ 11:23 am | 2 Replies

So, not only did Josh Cox pull off a major feat at the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Sunday in Tempe AZ, but several of Newton’s own kicked some butt too. Newton co-founder Danny Abshire and his partner in product development, Ian Adamson, both qualified for the Boston Marathon with their strong finish times in Tempe. Newton’s sales manager extraordinaire Robert Dennis and our indispensable vice president Anne Klein both ran the half marathon distance. They all reported seeing LOTS of Newtons in the race field, especially at the front of the pack :-)

Congrats to all!

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3rd Annual Newton 24 Hours of Triathlon a Big Success

Posted by on Wednesday, September 3, 2008 @ 9:32 am | Leave a reply

A sell-out field of over 400 triathletes and duathletletes descended upon Cherry Creek State Park last weekend to compete in the Newton 24 Hours of Triathlon. Newton’s own in-house technical advisor and adventure racing legend, Ian Adamson, produces the annual event, which has seen steady growth since its inception.

The first 200 entries received free Newton shoes (best goodie bag ever!) and the Newton team was on site to support the event.

Team Retul with Steven Waite (Australia), Lars Finanger (Boulder) and John Gaudette (Denver, pictured) completed a staggering 365.28 miles (26 triathlons plus 1 swim) to win the 3-person team category.

Read a terrific race report from Slowtwitch here.

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