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Running shoe sales are up despite trend to minimalist running

Discussion in 'Biomechanics, Sports and Foot orthoses' started by admin, Jul 28, 2011.

  1. admin

    admin Administrator Staff Member


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    Just picked up this comment in my alerts:
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  2. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    Articles:
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    Last month I contacted 3 key people I know in 3 different major international running shoes companies to confidentially ask them what the current status of sales are of the 'motion control'/'stability' shoes were relative or in proportion to the other shoes. Without naming the companies and going into detail, all 3 were very very adamant that there had been no change what-so-ever!

    That surprised me as given all the 'press' and 'online presence' that barefoot/minimalist has, you would have expected a trend away from these shoes... well, it ain't happening.
     
  3. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    Time will be the telling factor. If people aren't buying minimal shoes, the running shoe companies will back off on the number of models they have been developing and offering and the amount of marketing they are putting into it.

    Personally, I have purchased 8 pairs of "minimal" shoes since last June. I don't own any motion control/stability shoes and will not be replacing the 6 pairs of traditional "cushioned" shoes I had before buying minimal shoes. I see absolutely no need to wear a 12-14 oz shoe when I can wear a 6 or 7 oz shoe instead. It's just not as fun running in heavy shoes. I'll wear my heavy, cushioned shoes for walking and hopefully wear them out soon so that I can throw them away.

    Ultimately it will be the purchasing dollar that will dictate the direction of the shoe industry, not wishful thinking on anyone's part. Frankly, as long as there are a few models of minimal shoes available to ultimately pick from, I'll be ok with that. Everyone else can wear whatever they want.

    Dana
     
  4. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    Articles:
    6
    Thats the point. The sales of motion control/stability shoes is going up!!! I would have thought that if the propaganda from the minimalist church was really having an impact it would have at the very least lead to a plateau in sales by now or even a decrease. All this media attention and hype has been going on for a few years now. But there has been an increase!
     
  5. Maybe because of all the injuries from running barefoot or in minimalist shoes, people are finally waking up and going back to running in motion control shoes and buying them like there is no tomorrow???..:boxing::rolleyes::eek:
     
  6. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    Craig, you would think that in a stable market but you haven't considered all of the information. Over the past 10 yrs, the running population has exploded. For example in the US, the number of marathon finishers was 295,000 in 2001, by 2009 the number had grown to 468,000 or a 59% increase in the last 9 yrs and who knows how much it grew again in 2010. http://www.marathonguide.com/Features/Articles/2009RecapOverview.cfm

    During that same time frame, the running shoe industry has grown with it. I would expect that with the huge growth in the industry, ALL categories of running shoes have grown. I would have been shocked if you said that motion control/stability shoes had not grown or declined given what is going on in the industry.

    If you really want to understand the impact of the trend in minimal shoes, you need to look at the rate of growth of the Stability/motion control or "orthopedic" running shoes vs the rate of growth in total running shoes sold and the rate of growth in other categories such as cushioned shoes and lightweight performance shoes which would include minimal shoes.

    Last year Vibram alone sold 2 1/2 million pairs of fivefingers. It would have been more if their manufacturing capacity could have kept up. Who knows how many pairs of knock offs were also sold. That number was 0 in 2005. There is a complete flood of models of minimal shoes in addition to the traditional racing flat on the market today which I'm sure are selling 100's of thousand of pairs if not millions.

    Within the growing shoe market, while sales of stability/motion control shoes might be growing, it doesn't tell me anything without knowing their rate of growth compared to the industry.

    With a boom in the running population, there surely is a flood of new runners. It has long been common knowledge that one of the biggest factors influencing the buying decision of a first time running shoe buyer is color/style rather than function. It is really important that the neon orange and green running shoes match the stripes on the new running outfit. Motion control? Minimal? Who cares? It looks cool.

    Dana, who glided along on a 10 mile trail run this morning in Vibram Bikila's. Kevin, you'll relieved to know I wasn't naked and covered in tattoos. 18 months ago I would have been burdened with unnecessarily heavy trail running shoes.
     
  7. Dana:

    I remember reading an article in Runner's World from the 1970s where some guy wanted a much lighter weight shoe to race in than was currently available so he ran his marathons in bedroom slippers. I think he strapped them on his feet with athletic tape. I thought that was kind of ingenious at the time.

    Minimalist shoes, or what I previously called racing flats, have had a place within the wardrobe of serious runners for over the past four decades. I'm glad to see more diversity within the shoe market with all the new minimalist shoes being available. It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out within the coming years.
     
  8. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    Kevin, I have been trying to decide which shoes to wear in my next marathon. In spite of all of the shoes I have to pick from, I keep coming back to a pair of traditional racing flats I bought about 4 yrs ago before I filled my closet with "minimal" shoes, the Nike Marathon Racer. They are just a basic light weight (8 OZ) racing flat with minimal but firm cushioning and light uppers. While I'm enjoying running in the minimal shoes that are on the market today, I find it interesting that I'm falling back to a basic shoe that was out there before all of the hype began. They are not that much different than the more current shoes, I just think in this particular model, Nike dialed in the right level of firmness/lightness for me to most efficiently cover 26 miles of pavement in. Of course they were discontinued a few years ago.

    Dana :drinks
     
  9. Dana:

    When my legs were young in the mid to late 1970s, the best racing flat (minimalist shoe) I raced and trained in was the Onitsuka Tiger Jayhawk and the Nike Elite. Just the right amount of lightness and cushioning to run fast on both roads and trails.:drinks
     
  10. toomoon

    toomoon Well-Known Member

    [ It has long been common knowledge that one of the biggest factors influencing the buying decision of a first time running shoe buyer is color/style rather than function. It is really important that the neon orange and green running shoes match the stripes on the new running outfit. Motion control? Minimal? Who cares? It looks cool.

    it is an interesting observation, and one not just limited to 1st time runners.
    An agument can be put forth that the great desire for a change to a minimalist shoe, which currently is a North American, not global, phenomenon, is down to a desire for something that looks diffrent as much as functions diffrently. Shoe sales do not mean the trend is right.. check out toning shoes if you do not believe me. VFF can sell 20 million pairs as far as I am concerned, but they are always gonna be a shoe designed to go yachting.. so, buy a boaty and ditch them for running!
    I still am unable to get my mind around the proposed benefits of minimalist footwear.. and by that i mean in the VFF ilk rather than racing flats or NB minimus styled shoes.. othe than the thing we all agree on.. that weight reduction is the single most important design parameter in footwear. And this trend has been fantastic to promote new ideas and recognise market pressures.. but.. is it all about colour and look, or is it about function?? Sorry to say, but the USA is a trend driven market.. I know coz I bought a pair of toning shoes and my butt is exactly the same.. must be all the donuts i ate whilst waitng for a change.
    So.. an interesting question for you Dana.. if i could offer you a shoe that was built on a 10mm platform, offered superb cushioning, a great ride and stable platform, but weighed 6-7 oz.. what would you think.
    Is the argument heel elevation.. or is it weight.. coz I am buggered if I buy into this argument of zero drop shoes causing FF strike ( which they do), eliminating the 1st impact peak of the VGRF (which they do) being a good thing. Does this not conveniently ignore the fact that the 2 peak will be elevated with this type of shoe, and that this will impart greater loading forces on bones that were not designed to accept such a load (assuming relatively straight line running on concrete or tarmac), and may this not be a reason we are apparently, anecdotally seeing more MT stress #'s? is this a possibility?
    But back to the shoe discussion.. what do you think Dana.. a 10mm raise, cushioned, stable shoe weighing 6 oz.. are you in, and why?
     
  11. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    Simon, yes I'm in. I actually own a pair of shoes that have characteristics very close to what you've described, the Nike LunaRacer. The version I have weighs 7 OZ but a more recent version they came out with weighs 5.6 OZ. I think they just reduced the amount of carbon rubber on the out sole to get the weight savings. They say the heel to toe differential is 6mm but I don't believe it. It looks and feels more like a 10mm differential.

    As I mentioned multiple times, I own a sizable selection of active running shoes that range from Vibram Fivefingers up to Nike Air Max. The weight range is from 5 OZ up to 13 OZ and the heel to toe differential ranges from 0 to 12mm.

    Because of the repetitive nature of running, the runner is always at risk of injury. While the impact sustained from a single Vertical Ground Force Reaction might have no consequence, repeating it thousands of times can obviously have implications.

    My experience which is based on 40 years of running while covering over 90,000 miles has found that while running is inherently repetitive, there are several things a runner can do to mitigate some of that repetition. Over my running tenure, in spite of being a subject of 1, n=1, I certainly have a huge history of trial and error. Fortunately error has never resulted in injury.

    Since VGFR is transmitted through the shoe, a runner can easily change the relationship of the impact on the body by changing shoes. Not the level of impact but the relationship. Softer/firmer, shoe flexibility, heel toe differential and so on. All of these characteristics affect how the ground reacts with the runner's body. Introducing variation by changing shoes, introduces variation of the affect of VGFR on the body.

    In addition to using shoes to introduce variation, the runner can also add variation with respect to the running surface. Asphalt pavement or concrete is incredibly constant and adds to or supports the problems generated by the repetitive nature of running. On the contrary, natural surfaces such as dirt or rocky trails add a considerable amount of variety in terms of surface geometry, surface compliance and levels of sheer force.

    When running on a natural surface, horizontal force or sheer force is reduced. Yes traction is reduced and the runner won't be as fast but that is not the point. It hasn't been proven but I suspect that sheer force is just as important of a contributor to injury as vertical force is. A common belief is that running on natural surfaces will help reduce injury because it is considered more compliant with respect to VGFR. While I think that compliance is a factor the reduction of sheer force is also very important and has essentially been overlooked.

    Changing the heel/toe differential will not only change the angle that the foot contacts the ground but also can encourage a change in foot strike. While there is no evidence that one type of foot strike leads to less injury than another, I would argue that once a runner has adapted to different foot strikes that if they are able to change from being a heel striker on one day to a mid foot striker on the next, they are introducing a powerful form of variation. This can easily be accomplished by alternating Vibrams with traditional high heeled running shoes.

    What really bothers me is how people on both sides of the debate will argue that minimal or no shoes are best or traditional cushioned or stability shoe are best or whatever. Everyone is missing the point. A runner should NOT stick with a single shoe or a few similar types of shoes. By doing so, they are encouraging repetition and are inviting injury.

    It has been discussed several times here that by going from a traditional shoe to a minimal shoe, the runner is trading the risk of one set of problems for another. While the runner is open for stress on the knee with traditional shoes, they are looking at stress on the metatarsals, Achilles or calf by wearing minimal shoes. I agree and would propose that a runner not stick with a specific type of shoe, a specific type of surface or a specific type of foot strike. Variety is key.

    Personally, I do most of my running on natural trails because they are quiet, have great views and I don't need to deal with cars. In addition, I get the benefit of a surface that has ever changing compliance due to running on sand, dirt, gravel, rock. I also have the benefit of an ever changing surface geometry, not only at a micro level with holes, rocks, etc. but at a macro level with the elevation continuously changing.

    I will wear Vibrams once or twice per week. I will without question feel an increase in demand on the muscles and tendons in my foot as well as my Achilles and calf. After wearing them on one day, I'll switch to something that might have a little bit of cushion and heel toe differential such as the New Balance Minimus. I find it interesting that they chose a differential of 4mm. It is barely enough to even notice while running, yet I can really feel the difference in the reduction of stress on my calf. I might also wear the New Balance 101 which weighs similar to the minimus but has a 6mm difference. More importantly, it has a plastic plate between the midsole and out sole in the fore foot that really protects your foot from small rocks which are often unavoidable. Not a new concept, Solomon has used a rock plate for years. These shoes encourage a mid or fore foot strike which I tend to practice while using these shoes. As soon as I start feeling any indication of soreness, aches or pains, I will switch to a higher heeled, more cushioned running shoe which will give my feet and calves a break. Of course these shoes will then place stress on your knees and hips. After a day or two in traditional shoes, I'm back to wearing minimal shoes. I never give the introduction of stress from wearing a particular type of shoe enough time to encourage the development of injury.

    Frankly, I have learned I can wear just about anything and remain injury free as long as I don't spend too many miles in them. For that matter, while the shoe companies recommend replacing your shoes after 400 miles, I replace my shoes after 2500 to 3000 miles. I have had shoes that I've gotten 4000 miles out of. I don't disagree that shoes start to break down after 400 miles, I obviously don't need much more than protection from the ground if I can wear them that long. The shoes actually feel and work the best for me after I've logged over 1,000 miles in them. That's 2 1/2 times the recommended life before the are "broken" in.

    This leads me to my final point, if you find you don't need much in a shoe other than protection from the ground, given the materials available to shoe companies now and the technology they have developed, why would you chose to wear anything but a 6 or 7 OZ shoe? If it is cushioned and has a heel toe differential of 10mm, that's fine with me as long as all of my other shoes have different cushioning characteristics and different heel heights to ensure variability.

    Dana
     
  12. toomoon

    toomoon Well-Known Member

     
  13. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    Simon, good discussion!

    I saw that Asics has included a rock plate in the Trail Sensor, 12.2 OZ, the Trabuco, 12.8 OZ and the Trail Attack 11.7 OZ which is great. A huge benefit of adding a rock plate to a trail shoe is that it can allow the shoe designers to go lighter on the overall shoe for the same level of protection. I just find 11.7 OZ to 12.8 OZ to be unnecessarily heavy for me. The same is true for Solomon shoes. I just find that I am so much more agile on technical, rocky trails when my shoes are light and low to the ground. I'm sure some of this is personal taste but it also has to do with physics.

    While I agree that running on natural surfaces is a key contributor to avoiding injury, I also really believe that footwear is also a contributor. The reason I believe this is that when I run on a given trail system every day in a given pair of shoes, it is only a matter of time that my body will start sending signals. Those signals come in the form of simple aches and pains. I presume the average Joe Runner doesn't know how to interpret those aches and pains, they continue doing what they are doing and end up injured. To me, those signals come through loud and clear. My body is screaming at me to make a change! I can continue running on those same trails and surfaces but all I need to do is change my shoes! After doing that, I have gotten the same results time after time again, year after year thousands of miles after thousands of miles. I change my shoes, the aches and pains disappear and the risk of injury goes away and I continue to remain injury free. Not a controlled study, just based on a lot of experience.

    I make that sound simple. I know that the average Joe Runner probably has only two pairs of shoes, a new pair and and old pair. They simply don't have the flexibility to pick from multiple pairs of shoes. Even if average Joe Runner had a range of shoes with different functional qualities to pick from, I doubt they would know which shoe to pick to use next. Depending on the nature and location of the ache suggests the shoe I should go to next. Because of all the miles I put on my shoes, I know how my body is going to react to a given pair of shoes and which model of shoe is the best shoe to wear at a given point in time on a given surface at a given pace.

    When I mentioned that a shoe like the Vibram Fivefinger encourages mid or forefoot strike, I stand by that comment. I am inherently a light heel striker at least on flat surfaces. In Vibram Fivefingers I wouldn't even think of landing on my heels in those shoes when running. I don't even like walking in the shoes because of the need to land on my heels. Maybe it's not the shoe that is encouraging moving away from heel striking but the pain from landing on uncushioned heels. If it hurts my heels to land on them, I'm going to stop doing it. In any case the result is the same, I do not and will not land on my heels when running in Vibrams.

    I completely agree with your comment about there being a commercial reality. In my first post in this thread, I wrote: "Ultimately it will be the purchasing dollar that will dictate the direction of the shoe industry, not wishful thinking on anyone's part." I am just glad that the direction of the shoe industry has been to come out with shoes that better match my preferences. That is not to say those shoes are the best for average Joe Runner.

    I have to laugh about the whole heel height thing. I have long had a tendency to use lowered heeled shoes. Not because I was concerned with foot strike as a primary reason. I preferred lower heeled, lighter shoes because they contribute to better agility when running on highly technical, rocky trails. Having a higher heeled running shoe while running down a steep, granite strewn trail is a broken or sprained ankle waiting to happen. Having your feet closer to the ground is simply, much safer.

    I really like the New Balance Minimus trail shoe which has a 4mm heel toe differential. Unfortunately, New Balance caught a lot of flack from the so called minimal shoe purists for having any differential at all. Sure enough, their next version of the Minimus coming out in spring of 2012 will have a zero drop. I'm not sure I will be as comfortable running in those shoes as I am in the current model. Here is a perfect example of what market pressure is doing.

    Dana
     
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