Popular Mechanics: How Barefoot Runners Shape the Shoe Industry

Popular Mechanics: How Barefoot Runners Shape the Shoe Industry

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4 May 2009

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


Measurement of Forefoot Energy Return


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.