Running: Technology key in running shoe game

Running: Technology key in running shoe game

When thinking of technology in relation to running, everyone thinks GPS.

We have GPS in our phones and in our watches. We rely on it to tell us how far and how fast we go.

But have you ever thought of the technology that goes into your shoes? Running shoes are way more technical than a person thinks. Everything from the weight to the toe box to the heel drop to the fabric/materials to the lacing system – it all takes technology to figure out exactly what is best for the shoe.

We are going to start with the basics: Road vs. Trail. Road shoes are exactly what they sound like, shoes developed for the road. The tread on them tends to be smoother because the traction needs tend to be minimal. Road runners come in contact with consistent, smooth surfaces.

Trail shoes, on the other hand, tend to be a bit more rigid. The treads are layered with lugs for grip, and the materials tend to be more supportive. Trail runners come in contact with inconsistent surfaces and can see anything from rocks to mud to roots and stumps.

Now you add in the hybrids – hybrid trail shoes. These shoes are designed with the flexibility of a road shoe, and add a less-aggressive version of a trail tread. These shoes tend to be worn on gravel surfaces, grassy terrains, or for
leisurely hiking.

Heel drops are the new trend in shoe technology. Everything from a zero-drop to the more common 12 millimeters. Who would have ever those that millimeters in shoes would make such a big difference?

With the popularity of ultrarunning growing in number (distances of 50+ miles), the heel drop is becoming a phenomenon that taps into the natural form of the foot. When you lower the heel drop, the foot naturally aligns. You will see this type of shoe in distance runners and people who are on their feet for long periods of time.

Toe boxes are changing as well. We traditionally put our toes into narrower spaces. That is how shoes have been for many years. With growing advancements in technology, some companies are tapping into providing wider toe boxes. This allows the toes to splay, which is the natural spreading process our toes do during activity and throughout the course of the day.

One company has also released a new type of lacing system called Morphit. This is actually two types of laces built into the shoe. The first set is attached to the shoe and allow flexibility, while the second set is what you actually tie to keep the shoe on your foot. This new lacing system provides the shoe with flexibility to the foot’s movement over just holding the shoe on the foot.

All these technological features are making running shoes a mainstay for most types of activities. They provide the support and options that are needed for most people.

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