Friday, July 23, 2010

Runblogger on Nike's Minimalist Shoe plans

"What is Nike Doing?: Speculating on a Shoe Market in Motion"

I agree with Pete's take on this.  I am in no way a fan of Nike's products, in fact I avoid them like the plague.  However they deserve an enormous amount of credit for the research they are doing and supporting.  They are probably having more impact in moving the running industry in the direction of barefoot-style shoes than any other company (Vibram included).

The BJSM study Pete mentions isn't even the most radical bit of science Nike's supported.

A relevant question therefore is: is the Western foot, used in most studies, not ‘natural’ any more, and is our current knowledge of foot biomechanics clouded by the effects of footwear – in other words, are we studying ‘deformed’, but not biologically ‘normal’ feet?
The effects of habitual footwear use: foot shape and function in native barefoot walkers (link to PDF of the full text)

The authors hedge their conclusion, but the implications of this study are quite clear.  Nike liked it:

Winner of the Nike Award for Athletic Footwear Research presented at the IXth Footwear Biomechanics Symposium in South Africa, 2009.