Posted by FLATOUT JIM
On page 88 of the February 2009 edition of Runners World, you’ll find an article entitled “A Step Forward? Shoes for midfoot strikers offer mixed results”
The article reviews Newton Gravity, and New Balance 800, two brands of shoes designed and built for runners who run with a fore or mid foot strike. The article begins with the statement “While most runners land on their heels, a small percentage of biomechanically blessed runners land on the middle of their feet.”
The article goes on to describe how the shoes are designed to work similar to the bare; Reports on lab tests with nine different runners; and then concludes by saying that there is room for improvement.
Although the article does describe good points and bad points for each shoe, I have some issues with it, starting with the opening statement. It is probably true that a majority of runners are heel strikers; the article almost singles out midfoot strikers as a subgroup of freaks, “biomechanically blessed.” I think there are way more midfoot strikers than the authors think. In fact, if you were to look at the top finishers in any race, anywhere in the world, I bet you would find that forefoot strikers would be the norm, and heel strikers would be the exception. I am talking about the 2 to 3 hour marathoners, or the 30 to 40 minute 10 kers. Just watch the next televised race on TV. The front of the packers are certainly not striking with their heels first.
The next issue I have with the article is how they describe the inflexibility of the midsole and how it “doesn’t bend effectively with the foot as it flexes through the toe off. “ The running stride as taught by the Pose method incorporates a lift of the foot as opposed to a push off of the toe. As for the sole being too stiff, I use Newtons, and I don’t find it a problem.
Finally, there is not much in the way of details on the nine testers. There is no background on their running technique. Remember, these shoes were designed and built for a specific running style. If the testers do not run with this style, the review is invalid. It’s the same as having 9 truck drivers test drive F1 race cars, or 9 hockey players test figure skates. And I know for a fact that Newton goes to great lengths to ensure anyone inquiring about their products understands this. Just check out their web site, or better yet, give them a call.
I would advise anyone contemplating trying a pair of these shoes to try the shoes on their own, and form your own opinion. Don’t base your final decision on this article. I run with a mid foot strike, and I use Newtons, and love them. Stay Tuned for a comprehensive review of the shoes.