Written by Elizabeth Kovar, M.A.
Contributor for Tools For A Great Life
History sometimes repeats itself. Sir Isaac Newton, creator of the three laws of motion, established Newton’s Third Law which states, “that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” This law inspired Co-Founders, Jerry Lee and Danny Abshire, to establish Newton Running. Abshire, dedicated to design better shoes and runners, and Lee, an avid runner who was impressed with Abshire’s design, decided to assist in financing the company. After years of research, product design and example testing the co-founders’ ideas and dreams became reality.
In 2007, Newton’s colorful, natural running shoe hit the market providing the innovative and patented “Action / Reaction Technology™”. This Boulder, Colorado based organization is the first to design footwear that mimics barefoot running.
Humans have incorporated running for nearly two million years. In prehistoric times, humans integrated running to catch prey for food, which evolved the foot to land differently in the running motion. The modern running shoe was invented in the 1970’s that supported arches, shock absorbance and comfort. Running shoes not only changed the sport of running, but a runner’s biomechanics.
Today, most running shoes are equipped with an EVA foam, gel or air pocket. Therefore, many shoes contain thick heels to provide comfort, which results in “heel-strike” running. Modern, or “shod”, running permits the foot to initially land on the heel and then roll to the ball of the foot and then the toes. Daniel Lieberman, Harvard’s “Barefoot” Professor, conducted research on barefoot running and explains that heel-striking is “similar to getting hit on the heel with a hammer two to three times a person’s body weight.” As the leg strikes with the heel, there is major deceleration, which results in a rapid force that moves up the limb to the knee and hip joint. As a result, this “reaction” results in more shock and “repetitive stress” injury.
Lieberman and his team of researchers studied running before the modern shoe. Three classifications were found with how a runner lands on the foot: heel striking (heels lands first then forefoot), midfoot striking (heel and ball of the foot land simultaneously) and forefoot striking (ball of the foot lands before heel “toe, heel, toe” running). His 2010 research states that habitual barefoot runners predominately use the forefoot striking on various terrains.
Newton’s visionary leaders recognized the science behind barefoot running to not only create a better shoe but a better runner. Novice and professional runners utilize Newton shoes to adapt to or better the natural running form. These revolutionary shoes allow the runners to achieve a barefoot-type running posture due its’ near-level platform and lack of a bulky midsole under the heel. Newton’s unique Action/Reaction Technology is an energy-return system that improves runners’ efficiency and protects feet from the impact of running on hard surfaces. This “energy-return technology” is red lugs located on the shoe’s sole underneath the metatarsals, or ball of the foot.
Having the right shoes is one of the first steps to optimal running. Newton reaches runners beyond providing cool looking shoes. “As much as it is a natural form running-shoe brand, Newton Running is a natural form running education brand, and therefore has invested significantly into its Natural form running education programs.” states Newton Running Spokesperson. Natural running clinics are held at specialty running stores nationwide. In 2012, Newton Running features over 200 clinics with a schedule of events available online at, www.newtonrunning.com
Newton Natural Running™ educates runners on the “Land-Lever-Lift” form. This style of running trains individuals to run in “three parts”. First, land lightly on the midfoot/forefoot (engaging the shock-absorbent lugs into ground), and allow the heel to settle into the ground. Second, as the foot levers forward the lugs stretch the membrane underneath which stores the energy. Third, simply lift the foot off the ground and the mid-sole chambers burst energy into forward propulsion. Therefore, the shoe creates energy and power rather than utilizing excessive muscular power.
Newton teaches runners about finding “their sweet spot”. As walkers land on the heel, and sprinters land on the toes, the “sweet spot” is somewhere in between. With the land-lever-lift, there is great mind-body connection to find the torso in level with the landing foot strike. As the technology is centered over the forefoot, if landing here the runner feels the lever and forward propulsion. With heel striking, the stride is longer, does not contain a connection between the torso and the landing strike, and the foot lands too far in front of a person’s center of gravity.
Lieberman and several colleagues published, Foot Striking and Injury Rates in Endurance Runners, in the 2012 Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine. The study concluded that, “…of the 52 runners studied, 36 (59%) primarily used a rearfoot strike and 16 (31%) primarily used a forefoot strike. Approximately 74% of runners experienced a moderate or severe injury each year, but those who habitually rearfoot strike had approximately twice the rate of repetitive stress injuries than individuals who habitually forefoot strike.”
Proper running form and appropriate running shoes are essential to injury prevention. Newton Running shoes provide up to 60% more cushioning and 40% more energy return than the leading brand shoe. The switch over from traditional running shoes to Newton’s is simple thanks to the sophisticated design. Newton’s Spokesperson states, “All our models have a low ramp angle (gradient) from heel to toe which makes it easy to transition from a shoe with an elevated heel.” In essence, the low ramp angle situates the body into a more proper natural running posture to enhance the ease of striking midfoot instead of heel.
In addition to shoes and education, Newton Running is socially responsible. Newton Running sponsors, partners or volunteers with non-profits and charities to support national and international causes. Plus, Newton Shoes contain environmentally friendly features. This includes, but is not limited to, 100% recycled webbing and shoe laces, 100% post consumer recycled material shoebox and incorporates at least 10% recycled outersole rubber.
Newton also supports and sponsors athletes. In 2007, Newton Running signed 10 professional tri-athletes including the famous Craig Alexander and the near 14 years old, Winter Vinecki. Newton also sponsors Team Alchemy who are local Colorado, elite-competitive runners who run for the love of the sport.
Newton is an innovative organization that is dedicated to enhance the sport of running. Known for outstanding customer service, this organization is changing lives and improving the world that we run in.
BIO: Elizabeth Kovar M.A., Seattle resident, is the fitness coordinator at the Lynnwood Recreation Center. Elizabeth is a freelance fitness and travel writer, in addition to a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. She has also studied and worked within the fitness and sport industry within India and Australia. Please send questions and comments to email@example.com