Cameron Kippen casts an informed eye over the history and development of sport shoes. The blogger is a retired academic and now freelance writer, broadcaster,and shoe savant.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Different shoes for different strides
For the last couple of years technicians have been beavering away in laboratories developing new shoes for the Olympics. After Athens 2004, when the focus was on keeping cool in the hot temperatures, the main objective for Beijing 2008 has been the development of dependable lightweight spikes that improve track interphase and become record breaking shoes. The adidas Lone Star spike was crafted specifically for the Texan 400m superstar Jeremy ‘Pookie’ Wariner . After studying the runner’s gait pattern ‘Pookie’s’ prefers his left foot for stabilisation and his right foot for propulsion. The sole of left and right shoes were crafted differently with strategically placed crampon like lugs and force channels positioned to cope with the different function of the feet i.e. stable pedestal or propulsive lever. To cope with the stresses of turning adidas developed asymmetrical spikes designed for taking left turns on the track. The project involved teams of engineers, designers and biochemists combining their talents to produce the Lone Star spike. According to the manufacturer, traditional spikes cut into the running track causing athletes to exert unnecessary energy pulling the spike back out of the track. The adidas Lone Star Spike compresses the track riding over the surface like a piston, this is thought to reduce energy requirement and the tapered grooves of the progressive-compression spike provide the best penetration/compression ratio giving optimal shoe track interface. The designers hope this will be converted to better performance. The progressive-compression spikes are stronger than steel but made of ceramic composite which weighs much less. Another key feature of the Lone Star spike is the stability one plate system (or shoe bottom) which consists of a 1.1 mm thick full length plate made from polymer materials and reinforced with microscopic carbon nanotubes which act as bonds giving the plate structural integrity and durability. The new shoes weigh half the weight less than 140 grams and the manufacturers claim the lighter shoe will save energy giving each foot optimal function.
Interesting link. adidas innovation team leader Mic Lussier explains the designs behind Jeremy Wariner's Lone Star Spike.