Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Newton: Function vs. Hype

The Newton running shoe is part of the forefoot running craze. The concept was put together by 2 guys that got the thumbs down from Saucony on their idea. The premise is that forefoot running is more efficient and that the nature of the design is
more suited for forefoot running The concept of energy efficiency is especially attractive to the triathlete community as they are all about energy efficiency on that third leg. It has an energy return system on the forefoot hence the name Newton which is supposed to provide energy return. As I am a podiatrist, I tend to see only the folks that are having problems and this is what prompted me to write this piece. I had a patient that was not a competitive runner that developed shin splints after switching to running with the Newton shoe. The trouble with making the switch to the Newton is that many runners do not have the level of conditioning or the efficiency in their forefoot running to make the transition. My patient had both these problems. There is another subset of runners/trend setters that are simply caught up in the boutique aspect of the shoes at $175 a pop. If John Mayer is wearing them on that you-tube snippet in West Hollywood I must get a pair. The reviews from the running shoe stores have been mixed as well. One running shoe specialist I spoke with reiterated the concern that if you are not a forefoot runner to begin with there may be some breaking in soreness. Others have reported calf and achilles pain. A japanese study reports that elite marathon runners fared better with a forefoot/midfoot striking pattern but is this correlation or causation. the answer remains to be seen.

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