7 May 2009
By Danny Abshire, co-founder, Newton Running
I’ve been coaching efficient running and injury prevention through optimal running form, foot support and footwear for years. It would be naïve to go by the results of sponsored elite athletes and satisfied customers, but the initial results of a study started last spring at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reinforced my ideas.
The study, conducted through the Chemistry of Sport class taught by Dr. Patti Christie, took 25 athletic individuals with various running abilities and put them through an eight-week distance running program. The research was based around running 4x800m or 4x1600m repeats while holding a constant heart rate.
The first set of intervals was done in traditional EVA foam-midsole running shoes the participants started the program with, while the latter was done in Newton Running Trainers (Gravity and Motion). That preliminary data revealed that all of the runners who completed every workout recorded faster times in the final interval wearing Newton shoes. Results showed that 77 percent of the runners ran faster on two or more intervals wearing Newtons and 55 percent of the runners were faster on every interval.
“The results were statistically significant,” says Christie, who is continuing the study with a new group of runners this spring. “It indicates there is a more efficient way to run. And if you combine the Newton Running technique, ‘Land-Lever-Lift’ with the Newton shoes, there was definitely a significant difference.”
If you were to run barefoot along a smooth sidewalk, your body wouldn’t have you impact on your heels because it isn’t engineered to accommodate the blunt force trauma of repeated heel striking. Through increased forefoot communication with the ground Newton shoes allow for the body’s natural propensity for a light forefoot landing, foot leverage and a lifting of each new stride (instead of pushing off) known as the “Land-Lever-Lift” technique.
Newton Running’s patented Action/Reaction forefoot technology encourages Natural or Barefoot Running Gait and enhances the shock absorbency, leverage and energy return in the forefoot. Newton’s Independent lab research shows the system returns up to 28 percent more energy and reduces impact up to 44 percent when compared training and racing shoes offered by leading running brands.
The basis of natural form and midfoot/forefoot running gaits has been around for decades, much of it derived from the super-efficient form elite runners have been employing for years.
“It’s not new, it’s just that most runners have either gone away from what they used to do or they were never taught the proper way to run in the first place,” says Malcolm Balk, a Montreal-based running coach, form guru and competitive masters runner who teaches The Art of Running workshops in Canada and the United Kingdom. “I think the most important thing is that you need to keep braking to a minimum if you want to reduce muscular effort and the impact that goes with it.”
Danny Abshire is the co-founder of Newton Running, a Boulder, Colorado-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.