Over-engineered vs. barefoot

Adidas and Nike have both launched a new flagship running shoe - interestingly, they're based on very different biomechanical philosophies. The Adidas 1: The World's First Intelligent Shoe is an overengineered monstrosity - a microcomputer in the heel analyzes your footstrike and tells a motor (yes, a motor) how much cushioning and support you need. The Nike Free, on the other hand, is meant to simulate barefoot running with a flexible footplate, little cushioning or motion-control, and very light weight.

The debate that caused this shoe-development divergence is based on a relatively controversial (well, as controversial as these things get. It's not abortion) new method of running. The POSE method advises runners to employ the ball of their foot and strike the heel second - the natural result is that you run leaning forward more and feel like you're pulling your hamstring forward instead of pushing back. I think there's something here - try running barefoot (like we were designed to do) - you won't strike your heel first. The minimalist design is also a response to recent research which has shown that motion-control and support technology has increased dramatically over the last 15-20 years, but running-related injuries have held steady.

Adidas does have a good commercial though (about 7MB). Nike counters with a pretty good selection of wallpapers, including this one, which I've replaced J.Po's toasted toaster with.

Also, I've learned that shoe company websites are the most flash-heavy things I've ever visited.

1 comment:

Sophist said...

Lots of long distance East African runners train barefoot (of course, they're not running the distance on concrete). I always felt so wimpy for running in my clunky Grid Hurricanes. I'm very, very curious about these new Nikes!