Running shoes now feature all manner of crazy shock-absorption systems. But the industry's dirty little secret: All that padding might not be good for you. A new shoe being released in February attempts to solve that problem, and has just won an ISPO Brand New award, a German laurel that recognizes the year's most innovative sports products.
According to the inventors of the On Running Shoe, the problem with modern running shoes is that when you hit the ground on a big cushy sole, you don't have a solid surface to push off from with your next step. As a result, some of your support muscles atrophy, due to lack of use—and that leaves you prone to injury.
The On, by contrast, has a sole that collapses on impact, offering cushioning. But teeth in the shock absorbers—which are shaped like a piece of rigatoni—lock when fully compressed. That offers you a solid base from which to push off of:
That certainly looks a whole lot more comfortable and a lot less embarrassing than running barefoot—or worse, running in the Vibram Five Fingers, a sort of padded sock that's become the rage among barefoot runners. (I've spotted three people in my neighborhood sporting these. That's bougie Brooklyn for you. The shoes are also apparently all over San Francisco, natch.)
The On Running Shoe is expected to cost about $150, and the final design will be unveiled when it comes to market, two months from now.