By now, maybe you’ve seen the commercial for this futuristic-looking running shoe called the Adidas Springblade.
It’s hard to miss it. The commercial features sort of a neon tangerine-colored set of shoes with equally neon little “running blades” on the sole made of angled plastic springs that compress then release as you hit the pavement. The design is reminiscent of state-of-the-art running blades found on amputees (most notoriously on accused murderer South African “Blade Runner” Oscar Pastorius).
Adidas is marketing it to runners as shoes designed to increase energy return by propelling the runner forward. Let me say up front this is not a review of the Adidas Springblade. I haven’t tried the shoe out and don’t know anyone who has.
What interests me is the impact this technology may have on a common runner’s dilemma – the need to rotate and purchase new shoes.
Runners who run daily often switch between two or sometimes three pairs of shoes. The reason is that the soles of the shoes (particularly the rearfoot/heel and midsole) are compressed each time your foot hits the ground, helping to absorb the shock.
This is fine when shoes are brand new but if you run in the same pair every day, it won’t take long for the soles to “deflate” and stay compressed, lessening their utility as shock absorbers. This will place greater stress on your feet, knees, hips and legs and increase the possibility of injury.
By “resting” a pair of shoes for a day or more, the soles have more opportunity to decompress, increasing their usefulness and the life of the shoes. Running writer Jake Shoemaker (a former Dartmouth College cross country runner and brother of Olympic Triathlete Jarrod Shoemaker) says he got an additional 200 miles of running life out of his shoes by rotating them.
At $180 a pair, the Adidas Springblade is definitely priced for the serious runner, and the runner who likes to be noticed when running. Not many of us can afford to purchase two pair for rotating; some runners say it’s better to have different kinds of running shoes to rotate for different tracks. Yet it’s possible Adidas may have a design that may increase the economy of running shoes by extending the life of running shoes even farther.
If the polymers used in the Springblade are as sturdy as Adidas claims – they supposedly have been through rigorous ballistic testing and provide seven times the temperature resistance of regular cushioning – then it’s possible this shoe offers a way to help running shoes age better.
One thing to note: Many running reviewers say the shoes are probably not going to be of much use on rigorous cross country terrain. Mud and dirt is sure to get caked into between the blades. This is definitely an urban runner’s shoe meant for concrete and light gravel.
If you try it out, let me know what you think. And get back to me in three months and let me know how those springs are holding up.
Until next time, run at your own pace.
Dr. Annette “Dr. Z” Zaharoff heads the Non-Surgical Center of Texas, focusing on non-surgical alternatives to relieve pain and repair injuries. A former professional tennis player who competed in the WTC circuit, Dr. Zaharoff remains actively involved with the US Tennis Association. Learn more about her at www.drzmd.com.