Shoe Science

November 25, 2011
by Justin

I wonder if there was a shoe store in ancient Egypt. If there was, I wonder if it was like Footlocker. Footlocker is by far my favorite place in the mall. It doesn’t matter if I’m buying something for my girlfriend, my little brothers or my grandma, I’m going to go into footlocker just in case. My favorite shoes are running shoes, so naturally that’s the section I always go into. Recently, I’ve noticed more shoes that have less support. After doing some research, I learned some very interesting things about why many of the major shoe companies are making shoes with less padding. Coincidentally, I ran across a Real Sports story featuring this short film describing the findings of The Barefoot Professor. Here is an excerpt of the story:


The barefoot professor is from Harvard University, and his name is Daniel Lieberman. He is shown in the video running barefoot through the streets of Cambridge, Massachusetts after a cold winter’s snowfall. His research raises the question of why so many track and field athletes have so many issues with their knees and lower backs. His most interesting finding was that barefoot runners, who tend to land away and on their fore-foot, generate less impact shock than runners in sport shoes who land heel first. His hypothesis is that running barefoot is more comfortable and could ultimately minimize if not eliminate running injuries. In response to this research, several shoe companies have made new lines of shoes that create the feeling of barefoot running.

Nike has a new line called the Nike Free. The Nike Free is supposed give the runner the feeling of running barefoot. The 3.0 is Nike’s most barefoot-like running shoe. There’s minimal support and padding on the shoe. It is also more flexible than any of their other shoes in this line. New Balance also came out with a line of shoes recently called the New Balance Minimus. Here’s a look at the breakdown of the shoe:


The shoe is specifically designed for the mid-foot runner. New Balance has enhanced support only on the side they expect the runner to naturally land. There is blown rubber on the bottom of the shoes, which simulates the pattern in the pads of the human foot. The shoe is supposed to assist the runner through the Gait Cycle with optimum efficiency. The Gait Cycle is the medical term that describes human locomotion, or the way we move. Every individual has a unique Gait pattern. Weather you are running or walking, you should purchase shoes that suit your natural movements.


Recently, my girlfriend and I went to the New Balance store to get her a new pair of shoes. She is a former hurdler, who still has knee and ankle problems to this day. She also is 6’2” with extremely long legs that seem to feel worse whenever she puts on a pair of Nike walking shoes. After watching the story she decided to get a new pair of running shoes without the usual padding and support. I tagged along looking for a reason to feed my own sneaker habit. We both found comfort in New Balance’s line of barefoot shoes. We both bought the cross training versions of the New Balance Minimus and haven’t turned back yet. I suggest you find a shoe that works for you no matter the brand. This has been the Shoe Science, Track and Field edition, and I’m Yorick Hempstead signing off.




Yorick Hempstead is an ex-college athlete who is a sports blogger for He is always talking sports on twitter @HempsteadHuddle.

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