These Kicks Are Made for Walkin’

You may not easily realize this but you may have used and abused a specific item that you possess.  I know, I know what you guys and gals are thinking… obvious answers would be your cell phone, ipod, ipad, wallet, credit / debit cards, and keys.  Well aside from those things, you may have a favorite pair of flip-flops, sandals, vans, chucks or even a pair of boots that you’ll put on to kick around the house, grocery shopping, walks on the beach or just simply hanging out with friends. Keeping our feet comfy, unrestricted, relaxed and away from blisters is like a habit that is often overlooked.  For me, I would be kickin it with my Nike Free Runs.

Originally released in 2005, Nike released the very comfy and lightweight Free’s targeting runners, track and marathon athletes, and your casual young and old joggers.  Similar to 1970’s legendary University of Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman; pouring rubber into his wife’s waffle iron to create a new running shoe sole,   Nike pushed its engineers to revolutionize a shoe that will cushion, support and protect one’s feet but still felt and simulated running barefoot.

While looking for answers interviewing coaches and athletes, Nike engineers and designers came across Vin Lananna, who was the track coach of Stanford University.  During the discussions, V. Lananna shared an unusual routine that’s part of his athletes training – He had them run barefoot on grass.  The coach mentioned that this routine kept his athletes stronger and less prone to injuries.  As Nike engineers and designers were so intrigued with this statement, they assembled 10 men and 10 women to run without shoes on grass.  Equipped with high speed cameras and paper-thin pressure sensors to measure joint angles and foot impact, the engineers and designers had a comprehensive understanding of the biomechanics running barefoot.

Like most kicks out in the market, shoe design always aims to protect, stabilize and cushion the foot.  All these factors put together, most of the time a lot of motion are restricted and confined hence the challenge of emulating a barefoot walking or running experience. Nike answered these challenges by designing the Free project with superb flexibility, deep-grooved and channeled sole.  This design gave one’s foot more movement, the toes flex and grip as well as using underutilized foot muscles normally overlooked by traditional footwear.

Nike envisioned designating each Free version with a number – “1” aimed for runners who needed with less support and “12” was designed like a traditional running shoe.  As the numbering system was lost in translation, the Nike Free was re-launched with a mid-performance 7 ounce model, dubbed as the Nike Free Run+.

Judging from the reviews and statements that I’ve read and heard, the Nike Free Run+ was a huge success.  Not only did it achieve athletes’ quest for a barefoot style footwear but maintained cushion and foot protection.  These kicks seemed to be popular not just to athletes but young and old as well as medical and healthcare representatives due to its featherweight and comfort properties.

Due to the success of the Nike Free Run+ release, it encouraged Nike to put a new flavor and bring back the successful Air Huarache line by putting this in fusion with the innovative sole of the Free Run+ – I must say that this is another recipe for success and I will for sure put them to test as I got my pairs ready for action – 2012 Quick Strike (QS) Air Huarache Free pack.

So if you catch me sporting my Free Runs – “Avert your eyes, because it’s been known to hypnotize…” …just means I’m kickin it “Happy Feet Style.”  =P

Until the next one… Peace!  – jp

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