Comments about ‘Doug Robinson: Utah man's new running shoe could be golden’

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Published: Tuesday, June 18 2013 6:05 a.m. MDT

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St. George, UT

A lot of misinformation in this article. Does this Harper kid have any medical training or background to make these claims? I've noticed when I walk around my house I naturally strike my mid-foot. This anti heel strike stuff is a fad and inaccurate.

Cache county, USA

This article ounce interesting. I do think this shoe is meant for the younger people. My feet need support due to plantar issues.

Salt Lake City, UT

Very interesting article. I've had doubts about the raised/padded heel design ever since the early Nike days. My greatest concerns then was the increased likelihood of ankle instability and the resultant sprains. Apparently I wasn't alone in my concern (admittedly, an obvious one) since the splayed heel "stabilization" designs soon followed.

However, as the Harper's have demonstrated and I believe, the greater concern should have been the idea of padding the heel strike area in hopes of facilitating an increased stride length.

Since so much of the power of our stride comes from the spring of our calf muscles, it makes perfect sense that extending our feet forward is **counter-productive** in that it only extends the distance in stride **before** our calf muscles are able to power the stride.

Strange that the simple bio-mechanics of one of our most fundamental movements was so long neglected when designing shoes. Especially shoes designed explicitly for running. I'm pleased that a father/son team of fellow Utahns was instrumental in more closely examining and furthering our knowledge of such an important part of our lives.

Good on'ya guys!

Nussdorfer AC
Salt Lake City, UT

I've had Altras for a few years and they are quality. Word to the wise, if you are making the switch to "barefoot" style of running, go slow. There are many muscles that have atrophied and will need to slowly be strengthened. Lots of people rush in too quickly and cause injury. After the slow buildup, the running will feel great.

Also, contrary to other comments, the technique is not about being "anti-heel", it's about not having the heel strike first.

Chandler, AZ

What misinformation is in that article? I found it to be clearly written and informative. As for Harper, what "this kid" has is experience with shoes and with running. There's a lot of value in that. He's a record holder at the college level. I'm much more inclined to take his anecdotal evidence over your walking around the house.

These athletes that are putting hundreds of miles on their bodies per month (some do it in a weekend) largely run the way described in this article. They don't reach for the ground in front of them. They lengthen their stride by pushing off the ground behind them. It's easier on the body and more efficient.

Logan, UT

There is some good information in this article, and some not so good. The fact is, running shoes are nothing like seatbelts...one size does not fit all. And that goes for minimalist or zero drop movement every bit as much as "traditional" shoes. They work great for some people. They tend to work better for people who are new to running and have not already adapted to traditional shoes. They do not tend to work as well for competitive runners. They are very popular among trail runners. For others, it's best only as a training modality. And there are many exceptions to all of these. My advice as an experienced and competitive marathoner and ultramarathoner is to try a lot of different shoes, and find what works best for YOU. You can look at information like this on both sides of the minimalist debate to help, but ultimately it's about what works for you INDIVIDUALLY. Personally, I find there are benefits to zero drop/minimalist shoes, but the benefits are not all-encompassing and they don't work for everything. Sometimes I just need more protection for rough terrain or more cushion/drop for longer distances.

Logan, UT

As an addendum to my previous comment, it should also be noted that individual biomechanics can change over time as the body adapts to the stresses of running, especially over long distances. Generally, people become more efficient in their stride the more they run. So naturally, shoe preferences can change over time. For example, I used to wear a typical moderate stability road shoe (Brooks Adrenaline) when I ran competitive road races. There is no way I could have worn minimalist or zero drop shoes and not become injured in those days But since I've almost entirely abandoned road running for trail ultras, I've become very neutral and I actually do very well in more minimalist shoes up to about 35 miles. My ideal 50k shoe is actually the Altra Lone Peak. I need more beef and cushion for longer distances though.

Also, heel striking is not all bad. Some heel striking is perfectly natural, and some people naturally heelstrike more than others due to differences in individual mechanics, muscle development, and pain tolerance. For people in this category, Altras and other zero drop shoes or minimalist shoes often prove to be a disastrous choice. Use common sense.

Eagle Mountain, UT

I have to agree with Aggie238. Everyone is different. Find a shoe that works for you, your running style, and your foot type. When I was young I was one of those that ran long distances and competed almost every week. People would ask what type of shoe I wore and I would recommend that they try a variety of shoes and find out what they were happy with. At the time I could make some general recommendations based on foot shape, weight, and the type of running they did but the final recommendation depended on them. This new shoe sound really promising but there will always be a need for Nikes, New Balance etc.

Logan, UT

And since I'm on here, I'll make a comment about the Altra shoes themselves that I own. Hopefully someone from Altra reads this. :)

My only complaints about the Lone Peak are that the toe box, while perfectly shaped to match the footprint, cuts back over the top of the toes too rigidly, resulting in blistering and loss of toenails, and the footbed feels like just a flat piece of foam material. Overall, while I do love the shoe, the fit feels slightly unnatural. I also have a pair of Superiors, and they are...almost useless as trail shoes, which is what they're advertised as. I love the footbed and the upper, but they simply don't offer any protection whatsoever from trail debris/rock, and the tread pattern might as well be used for Sunday shoes. The minute you get into anything wet, slick, muddy, loose, rocky, steep, or otherwise not a flat, groomed, gravel bike path, traction is virtually nonexistent. If Altra could combine the comfort and fit of the Superior with the protection and traction of the Lone Peak, they would have created the perfect zero drop 50k shoe, IMO.

Spanish Fork, UT

I've been running in zero- or low-drop shoes now for several years. I'm running in Altra's now and really like them. If you can get used to the funny look of the wide toe box, it is an improvement in comfort, at least for me.


Of course Nike and others haven't done any research since the 70's!

"Just look at it. It’s not shaped like a foot; it’s shaped like a missile." - I don't own any shoes that are shaped like a missile, do you?

"It doesn’t work like a foot, either. The toes are crammed together, unable to spread out and fully contribute to forward propulsion." Spreading out my toes is what I do when I climb something barefoot, when I run I don't spread out my toes. And yes, I've run barefoot.

"The heel is raised and padded, encouraging a heel-first foot strike and hindering the calf muscle from “loading” for a big push off the ground." So, you are saying that the full load (mass) of the body doesn't get loaded onto the calf? Where does that extra mass go? All that happens is the load is more gradual which preserves the calf muscle.

Since I'm close to the 200 word limit will continue in another post.

Provo, UT

I want to thank Aggie238 for his comments on this article. I am a forty something year old man who is relatively new to running. I have run four marathons, with number five on deck for next month, and generally run 40 to 45 miles a week. I find that if I don't have a lot of cushioning in my shoes, my knees and hips suffer greatly. I'm sure the Altra works for some, but when I tried a shoe with a lower heel/toe drop, my knees paid dearly. I also use a good insert in my running shoes that keeps my feet in a good position, which helps a lot.

Sasha Pachev
Provo, UT

I believe there is a variety of shoes that can be used for running beside what we consider a running shoe. I have run for 29 years. My marathon PR is 2:23:57. After watching my kids run in Crocs I decided to try it myself and discovered that they are as good as racing flats for speed. I've been running in Crocs for the last 4 years - no injuries, and no blisters in marathons. Racing flats give me blisters in the marathon.

Crocs can also be used for a competitive advantage - if your competitor writes you off as a loser that does not know what shoes to wear, and then discovers that you are competitive against him, it can mentally crush him.

I would take practical running experience over any training in biomechanics or exercise physiology if we are trying to understand and improve running.


Continuing comments -

"The arch is pushed up, preventing the foot from flattening out to produce a spring effect." So, 'a spring effect' comes from the big muscle in the arch? Maybe the big tendons or bones or? I'm at a loss here, is there a spring effect from the arch regaining it's shape? If so, it would be miniscule compared with the effects of toes, ankle and calf.

"The front end is curled to further neutralize the role of the toes." I don't see curling doing much more than reducing the cushion so that the toes have more effect in pushing off. To reduce the wear and tear on the joints you want the padding thickest at the point of impact and thinner where there is no impact such as the toes.

In spite of my critique I do agree that people need and want different types of shoes at different times and for different sports so certainly these shoes have a place. Use what works for you!

Provo, UT

@Sasha Pachev
I see you running around Provo, mostly on the river trail and once in awhile up and down South Fork. You amaze me running in your Crocs. I wish I could run in something like that. It would sure save me a lot of money on shoes. :-)

Logan, UT

Sasha, you are a bit of an outlier. ;) But I do agree that some people just don't "fit the mold" so to speak, and this is why it's important for everyone to experiment and find something that works for them...even Crocs.

Kralon, I think your critique is a bit misplaced. The arguments for the minimalist movement are very compelling with respect to biomechanics. The toes and foot and associated connective and muscle tissue absolutely do flex, compress, and create an elastic response to the load forces placed on them, and are designed to absorb shock. This is true regardless of what shoe you are wearing. There is also a voluntary active response created by the muscles. The arguments against minimalist shoes have more to do with what happens when those active and elastic responses are reduced as a result of fatigue and prolonged stress, as well as the sudden change in the loading of different muscles and tendons when a person suddenly decides to transition to a minimalist or zero drop shoe. Also worth considering is the appropriateness of minimalist shoes for the surfaces that most modern 1st World people run on, compared to our ancestors.

Centerville, UT

I've been running in a transitional Brooks and love the lower heal. Before, when I had a Nike shoe I would strike my heal. I ended up with shin splints, tendonitis on top of my feet, and lower back pain.

When I switched to a lower heal it helped me move my foot strike position more to mid-foot. I just finished a marathon 2 weeks ago and only suffered IT band issues (a chronic problem that would go away if I spent more time cross-training and strengthening the IT band).

I love a wider toe box. I have been suffering for over a year from a blister on my little toe, left foot. I recently switched to toe socks and it solved my blister problem on the marathon.

I tried the Altra shoe a month ago but didn't like it. My joints felt overworked, and I didn't like feeling everything on the trail/road. But the wide toe box was wonderful.

I may try Altra again, after my next marathon in the fall.

Brave Sir Robin
San Diego, CA

Try Newton running shoes - you'll never run in anything else again.

the old switcharoo
mesa, AZ

According to my sister-in-law any shoe is wqrong for running. She ran 20 miles barefoot the other day and says she doesn't get nearly as sore as she used to wearing shoes.

let's roll

Thanks to all the experienced runners for your thoughtful comments. I've run in just about everything, I'm sure I've had at least a couple pair of shoes from each of the top 7 mentioned in the article.

Over thirty five years of running and no real injuries, so I consider myself fortunate. I have limited myself to halfs the last ten years so don't do as many miles as I used to, but agree with the general theme of the comments: try a number of different shoes, learn about your stride and mechanics, get some good advice and choose a shoe that fits your individual needs.

Good running to all.

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