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Heel striking is bad, mmmkaaay?

Posted Dec 12 2009 2:30pm
Ok don't quote me on that one, the jury is still out. It appears research goes back and forth, back and forth on the heel striking issue. But the title was fun. Mkay?

Let's talk Newtons (the shoes, not the figs). If you have been interested in trying out a pair of Newtons like I have, you have more than likely done some research and asked around, only to hear that opinions on these shoes vary GREATLY. I've heard everything from "they are a gimmick" to "I hate them" to "I love them" and "I'll never run in anything but Newtons again". But let's face it, the MSRP of around $175 a pair is a lot to swallow to take a gamble and see if you will love them as much as one running buddy does, or hate them as much as another.

Regardless of the Newton specific research, I've been reading a lot about the proposed benefits of minimal shoe and barefoot running. I really had every intention of writing this blog post with various information and facts. But I won't lie to you...I don't take biomechanics until next semester in school, haha. And so reading various "opinions" if you will, as to what is more natural and efficient started to make my head spin. I'm only 24 hours post finals week, give me a break! Although, at this point, it does make sense to me that running in a more natural form, i.e. mid to forefoot strike (as you would if you were barefoot) would lead to more efficient running and ultimately less injury.

However, if you are genuinely interested, I HIGHLY encourage you to watch this video, it best explains the philosophy behind the Newton shoes and their science of running (and it will make a lot more sense than I will at this point)





As I mentioned a few posts ago, I was given a pair of Newton Gravity Trainers to test out. Biomechanics aside, I intend to give these puppies a full review as I train in them over the next couple of months, and give you my honest opinion on how they affect, if at all, MY running.

Today, I took the Newtons out for a 5 mile jaunt around the neighborhood. What Newton says I will expect: "Newton running shoes have a unique feel as soon as you put them on — they are lightweight, breathable, comfortable, highly cushioned yet stable and responsive. While running in Newton shoes, you will feel the actuator lugs below your forefoot and your feet will sense the ground faster, encouraging you to strike the ground with your midfoot instead of your heel. If you already run with a midfoot gait pattern, you will notice that you are on and off the ground quicker with less harsh impact and greater forward propulsion."

What I say: Comfortable and lightweight? CHECK! Those actuator lugs? Uhh...I felt like I was walking in ski boots at first. Ok, that's a BIT of an exaggeration, but it is certainly a different feel having those lugs under my feet. I imagined this ski-boot feel would be incredibly obnoxious to run with, but to be honest, I didn't even notice them after the first few hundred yards. What I DID notice is that my cadence/turn over absolutely increased, thus increasing my speed. And it seemed to come naturally. Now, having spent many years in science class rooms, and just finishing a semester of exercise physiology, I'm well aware of the "placebo effect". No, there was no sugar pill in my shoes, haha, but honestly, was knowing I am wearing Newtons causing me to subconsciously turn my stride over faster? To test this out, I tried to slow myself down. And honestly, it was incredibly akward and uncomfortable. What felt "normal" was consistently faster than my average pace for this around the neighborhood jaunt.

I know I was mainly a midfoot striker before the Newtons, but when tired and sloppy, watch out here comes the heel strike:

Do I feel that the Newtons helped "remind" my body to mid/forefoot strike? Absolutely. Will it help improve my running overall? Time will tell. And don't worry, you'll hear read all about it :)

If you are interested in more information. , check out http://www.newtonrunning.com/ You can spend HOURS on there reading all of the various research on the shoes. There are also many videos about the technology here http://www.youtube.com/user/NewtonRunning

And, if you have any questions about my experience thus far , PLEASE don't hesitate to ask!
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