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Thankyou for raising this issue on Marketplace as solving the problems with the heavy, built up heel and narrow foot bed shoe design were the primary founding principles for Altra Footwear.
At Altra, we make shoes that allow people the form improving, impact reducing benefits of barefoot, with the cushioning, comfort and support of a traditional shoe. Although every shoe we make is Zero Drop (the heel and forefoot are the exact same distance from the ground), we offer varying levels of cushioning and support, from very little to a lot, depending on a runners unique needs. All of our shoes also come with a foot shaped toe box which combined with the Zero Drop, allows a person's foot to be in the same natural position in the shoe as it would be when they are not wearing a shoe. This allows the body to move at its most natural and relaxed state possible.
Studies have shown that the softer the cushioning, the harder the body impacts the ground. We have been shown from Dr. Davis and many other studies in the pastnot to mention running shoe injury rates not going down the last 30 years that running shoe cushioning does not necessarily protect the joints. The body has a built in mechanism many call muscle tuning that allows the body to mitigate impact to the joints through proper technique. A simple way to put it is that the body lets the knee bend and the huge spring of the leg absorb the impact so that the joints don't have to absorb as much. Typical running shoes with heavy, raised heels simply interfere with the body's ability to do this well by causing the foot to hit the ground earlier and harder than it otherwise would. In this state, the body is not well prepared to mitigate impact.
However, we have also been shown cushioning does work at the "point of impact" --- the feet. Interestingly enough, the only typical injuries seen in barefoot runners are foot and lower extremity injuries. For these people, their joints have never felt better, but often their feet take a beating while they are attempting to strengthen and transition them to get used to taking the impact of hitting the hard ground. This is why Altra offers a layer of Zero Drop (flat) cushioning in most of our shoesbecause the research tells us that some cushioning is helpful for protecting the feet, while natural running technique helps protect the joints. We are seeing the impact forces in a Zero Drop shoe remain smooth, simlar to the minimalist curve. As far as we know, there has never been a single reputable study that showed that the traditional raised heel running shoe prevents injury in any way. Additionally, the tapered toe box is proven to be like Chinese foot binding on a smaller scale causing bunions, neuromas, and many other foot problems.
We believe the solution is a shoe that offers enough cushioning at the point of impact --- the feet --- while keeping that cushioning perfectly weight balanced and the same from heel to forefoot so that it does not interfere with the body's ability to maintain natural, low impact technique. We also acknowledge that shoes are but one part of a much bigger equation, and that changing running surface, training frequency and distance, speed, and learning to run properly are all very important as well.
These ideas, while so far from the normal state of the market are what encouraged me to first use the product as an athlete and secondly, bring Altra to Canada. We are making some headway changing the way people think about shoes and shows like this support the fact we are on the right track.
Chris Jones, President
Dr. Davis appears to have tested one characteristic of a running shoe...Impact. Overall performance is the true measure in technical running shoes. Impact is only one element that needs testing in a running shoe. Running efficiency, protection, guidance, fit, comfort, stability, durability and flexibility must be considered when determining performance. Testing impact, and making a blanket statement, is misleading to runners everywhere. This equates to testing the brakes on a car and then providing an overall safety rating. The validity of the study must be questioned as to how it relates to the complete performance of technical running footwear.
ASICS Impact Guidance System (IGS) addresses the entire gait cycle and the overall performance of a shoe, notjust impact. As we discussed, this is where the Mix up your Run concept plays an integral role for all runners. Toimprove and stay injury free, runners should change their running surface; their training distances; the speed atwhich they run; and their footwear. All these are necessary and pertinent components for the average runner to send different signals to the legs and allow the body to adapt and become stronger.
Both ASICS’ IGS and Mix up your Run provide tools for the runner to use appropriately depending on their mechanics/gait and what type of running/goals they have. IGS employs linked componentry throughout the shoe to enhance the foot’s natural gait from heel strike to tow-off utilizing the outsole, midsole and upper materials to allow the foot to function as naturally as possible given the confines of a shoe.
Please let me know should you require additional information.
ASICS Canada Corporation
Please find below some more explanation on Brooks’ approach to footwear design from Carson Caprara, Senior Footwear Product Line Manager.
"At Brooks Running, our goal is to make running shoes that enhance comfort, improve performance, and reduce injuries. Based on extensive research, including runner insight and biomechanics, we believe that to achieve this, running shoes should work with the preferred motion of a runner’s joints. By allowing the runner to run in their preferred motion pathway, the body can move most effortlessly. As such, support should only activate when necessary to help the runner maintain this motion with the onset of fatigue.
"A key example of this is our new Transcend, a traditional ‘support’ shoe, which features several key technologies including Super DNA, Guide Rails, Ideal Pressure Zones, Rounded Heel and a Plush Upper that revolutionize the way runners experience stability and cushioning by acting as a buffer to help you stay in a balanced position throughout the run."
The Met-RX Big 100 bar is designed to provide protein based workout fuel for the hard core athlete that is exuding a tremendous amount of energy and calories. This bar can be used for pre or post workout for the consumers that are looking for a convenient way to fuel their bodies on the go. While the bars are widely available in Canada, it is up tothe consumer to choose the bar that is right for their own nutritional needs.
Please let me know if you have further questions.
Vice President, Communications
For the most effective post-workout recovery, athletes need to consume a blend of protein and carbohydrates to help repair muscle tissue and replenish muscle glycogen. The recommended amount of protein and carbohydrates differs for everybody based on body weight and composition, as well as exercise intensity, but a general guideline is 10-20 g of protein with 60-90 g carbohydrates for post-workout recovery (1,2).
PowerBar was created by athletes for athletes, to help them reach their goals by providing nutrition tools for optimum athletic performance. For the average consumer, the main benefit of a product like PowerBar Recovery bar is convenient and portable nutrition. While there are many other foods that would have equivalent amounts of protein to a PowerBar product, including the roast chicken breast you mention below, it is key for athletes to refuel as soon as possible after intense activity. PowerBar Recovery bar provides 30 g of carbohydrates to help replenish energy, as well as 12 g of protein to help rebuild muscle tissue, and is a great choice for athletes looking for easily transportable nutrition. As with anyone, athletes who consume PowerBar Recovery as part of their sports nutrition plan still need to ensure they’re meeting all their other nutritional needs through a varied and well-balanced diet.
1 Position of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009; 109: 509-527
2 Burke, L. Practical Sports Nutrition. 2007. pp 11-12.
Country Business Manager - Performance Nutrition (Canada)
Saucony continues to focus on the entire runner’s stride, not just the moment of foot strike. With that said, one type of shoe or technology does not fit all runners. Some people need cushioning, others stability. Some runners find success in a natural motion shoe with little added cushioning or stability. We create a wide range of shoes for every type of runner out there.