Saturday, January 20, 2018

361 Meraki Review

I will be the first to admit that I can be very particular about things.  Starting in college, I made sure to do my easy and long runs in my trainers but did every workout in lightweight trainers or racing flats.  The reason was to let my body get used to the racing shoes so I would be more comfortable on race day.  I have stuck to this, partially due to paranoia about trainers slowing me down during workouts.  The 361 Meraki is the first shoe I have violated that rule with.  Despite being a 10 oz trainer, I was able to take it on a great tempo run (6 miles at ~5:30 per mile) that felt relaxed and smooth.  So I have to amend that rule a bit.  Can I do workouts in trainers?  Yes.  Do I prefer to?  No, but let's talk about some of the things that make the Meraki a little different.


Stats*:
Classification: Trainer

Weight: 10 oz (Men's size 9)
Heel Drop: 9mm
*per Running Warehouse


Upper/Fit:

The Meraki is very much a "disappears on your foot" kind of shoe.  While I was apprehensive about the toe guard at first (which will likely be changed in the next generation as seen by the upcoming Sensation 3) I did not have any issues with rubbing.  The upper uses a seamless engineered mesh, which creates a smooth fit throughout the foot.  I have not had any rubbing or chaffing issues.

The midfoot is held quite well in this shoe.  361 uses a design called "Fitz Rite" in the midfoot to wrap the foot securely.  I did not notice this until I realized how well the shoe held my feet.  This further contributes to the shoe disappearing on the foot.


The tongue of the Meraki is on the thin side.  They designed this perfectly as it is thin enough to not get in the way but not so much that it is flimsy.  I have not had any irritation from the tongue, which is somewhat rare with me.  Usually I get some minor rubbing breaking shoes in with the tongue, but the Meraki was ready to go from the first step.



There is a heel counter in this shoe but there is some cushion in the upper to protect anyone with sensitive calcani.  As always, if you have anything like a Haglund's deformity ("Pump Bump") you may want to try this shoe before buying. 


The fit is very true to size.  I am normally a size 10 and that is exactly how the shoe fit.  It does have a slightly narrower fit throughout that gives it a more performance feel.  However, those with normal to slightly wide width feet should not have any issue.


Sole/Ride:

This is the area I was most impressed.  361 managed to combined appropriate flexibility with a plate that adds wonderful responsiveness when the pace picks up.  There are flex grooves throughout the length of the shoe, but the forefoot is what really shines.  There is a plate that feels like it runs from the midfoot through the forefoot.  The heel has mostly QU!CKFOAM that makes for a stable but protective landing if you land back there.  From the midfoot forward, the QU!CKFOAM stays as a significant top layer while the plate takes over the middle midsole.  This is why I have been able to use this shoe as both a trainer and a tempo/interval shoe.  The springy QU!CKFOAM combined with the responsive plate make it great for a variety of runs.  The flex grooves throughout the shoe do work well to smooth the ride out.  I would prefer if they were mostly in the forefoot (where most sagittal plane motion occurs in the foot, not ankle) but they are not overdone anywhere else.


The outsole is incredibly durable.  This is characteristic of 361 as their shoes tend to last for long periods of time.  I have 320 miles on my pair and there is very little wear on them.  Other than being dirty from the amount of trails I have also used them for, they feel almost the same as when I first put them on.  So expect many miles out of this shoe both from the durability of the QU!CKFOAM as well as the outsole.


The Meraki is meant as a neutral trainer but the plate does add some element of stability, especially toward the front of the shoe.  However, the sole overall is slightly on the narrower side, so those needing some extra stability may want to look at the upcoming Sensation 3.  The Sensation 3 is essentially the same shoe with no toe guard and some light posting in the midfoot.


Something I do appreciate that 361 is (slowly) starting to add a bevel to their heels.  I understand the design influence from Asics as many of their developers originally migrated from that company.  The Meraki now has a bit more of a bevel at the posterior-lateral aspect of the heel, which should smooth out and landing posteriorly rather than causing a jarring impact from those rigid non-beveled heels (that irritate me both personally and biomechanically).  So for those that have difficulty with this, know the ride is smoothing out.  I have found the ride of the Meraki to be very smooth thanks to the flexibility, plate and the mild heel bevel. 


Thoughts as a DPT:

Sole width is an easy way to both change the weight and stability of a shoe.  A narrower sole obviously has less material there and will weigh less.  The trade off is that a narrower platform will have less lateral stability and resistance to motion in the frontal plane.  Racing flats and performance shoes often has this feature as a way to cut weight, but there is a trade off stability wise.  On the flip side, stability shoes often have very wide soles to provide a more stable and broad platform. While this increases stability, it obviously adds a ton of weight.  A wide sole is only one of the many ways one can increase or change the stability of a shoe.  Hoka is very well known for having wide soles which is one of the reasons many report them feeling more stable.  361 has a bit more normal to narrow sole width, as seen by the traditional use of second density foam in their stability shoes, the Strata and Sensation.  The Spinject (REVIEW) stands out from many of 361's other shoes due to the slightly wider platform, which is why I had so much success with.  Despite being a neutral performance shoe (with great flexibility and turnover), the wider base made the shoe more stable for me and I was able to handle far more in that shoe than others in the 361 neutral line.  I really do like the Meraki, but given the narrower sole, I would classify it more as a performance trainer, especially with the added propulsive plate in the sole.


Room For Improvement:

I might widen the base of the sole just a bit to increase stability.  That is a personal preference and many find the fit and sole just fine.  I do like the fit as it feels like a performance trainer, so those needing a bit more shoe should look at the 361 Strata or Spire 2 (REVIEW).

I believe this is already in the works, but I would like to see the toe guard toned down like it is in the Sensation 3 (coming soon).  I think this will improve the already good fit.


Conclusion:

This 361 Meraki is not the lightest shoe but it is one of the more versatile.  I can see people using this as a do it all shoe, many using it as a marathon racer, others using it as a solid performance trainer.  At 10 oz there are lighter shoes on paper, but thanks to the QU!CKFOAM, the plate and the fit, this shoe feels much lighter.  This shoe has responded well for me on long training runs, tempo runs, intervals and even some sprints.  While I do prefer using lighter shoes for workouts, I kept reaching for this shoe during testing even when I thought I might want something lighter.  Each time they performed very well and I hit my splits.  So for those looking for a performance trainer that can handle faster paces, check out the 361 Meraki.

Thanks for reading and don't forget to tack on!

As always, my views are my own.  My blog should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care.  If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist.  If you are in the LA area, I am taking clients privately for running evaluations based on my Orthopedic Residency and upcoming Manual Therapy and Sport Fellowship schedule. 

Dr. Matthew Klein, PT, DPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Casa Colina Orthopedic Resident

Kaiser SoCal Manual Therapy and Sport Fellow 2018

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  I put at least 75 miles on trainers and 25 miles on racing flats.  Currently my pair of 361 Merakis have 320 miles on them.  A big thank you to 361 for sending me these.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review.  I have no problem being brutally honest with a review because I do this for the consumer and those reading this blog.  I must disclose that my girlfriend is sponsored by 361 as a professional runner, but this did not influence this review. 

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Friday, January 19, 2018

New Balance Vazee Pace v2 Review

Today's review comes from a new contributor to KleinrunsDPT. Chris Park is a high school student with a very keen interest in footwear and human biomechanics. As a future doctorate, he will continue to share his thoughts as he explores those worlds. Today he provides a review of the New Balance Vazee Pace 2. Read on as we continue to match science with running footwear.

I’ve been an ardent supporter of the New Balance brand for the last couple of years. Although I didn’t have much experience with the brand outside of several versions of the 1400 and Zantes, I was attracted to many of their lines including the Vazee, Boracay, 880, and Hanzo models.  Thankfully I was able to try out the Vazee Pace v2s and share my thoughts.


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Specs:
Weight: 8.6 oz (Men's Size 9)
Drop: 6mm (24mm/18mm)
Classification: Lightweight Trainer

The Vazee Pace 2s are marketed as a lightweight, cushioned shoe for tempos and faster workouts.According to Runningwarehouse.com, the Pace v2s weigh 8.6 ounces in a size 9 US and have an offset of 6mm with a stack height of 24mm in the heel and 18mm in the forefoot. Although they aren’t the lightest shoes on the market, the REVlite foam contributes to a rather firm, responsive ride while providing enough cushioning for a half marathon.




Foam/Drop:

The New Balance Vazee Pace v2s are listed as a lightweight, cushioned shoe. While they aren’t the “lightest trainers/racers” available, the responsive REVlite midsole, lower drop, and toe spring give the shoe a snappy ride.  Despite this responsiveness, however, I found them too heavy to be used as a racing flat or even a fast, lightweight trainer.


REVlite: According to New Balance, REVlite is an “innovative EVA foam compound,” that provides the same responsiveness and durability of most other EVA foams 30% heavier.   Unlike Fresh Foam or Nike Lunarlon, REVlite provides a firmer ride creating a stable platform for the foot during speed work.   New Balance offers REVlite in many other models; with the Pace v2s, I found that it provided the responsiveness for mile repeats, but also the needed cushioning for anything under 13 miles. The recommended distance with any shoe is unique to every runner, however, I found that anything over 13 miles with the Pace V2s beat up my legs. I would recommend these shoes for those that follow the minimalist trend in regards to heel drop and fit but still want a decent and traditional amount of underfoot cushioning. 

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Toe Spring: Although it seems minimal, toe spring definitely contributed to the overall snappy, smooth ride. Toe spring is the slight raise of outsole aspect of the toes above the ground. I won't go into too much detail about it, because Dr. Klein has a great post about it (HERE).   Simply put, toe spring mimics the forefoot rocker of the foot. This is an important feature, because it assists in maintaining forward momentum during a stride.

I really enjoyed the 6mm heel to toe offset/drop. Personally, I’m not too big on anything over 8mm (hence why I am not a fan of most Nike shoes). The 6mm encourages a midfoot landing and greater toe off. In other words, the lower drop encourages a stronger push off from the toes and therefore faster turnover and power. I believe having a midfoot strike is important because it reduces impact when the foot collides with the ground allowing for a faster turnover rate (Editor's Note: I am not the biggest proponent of focusing exclusively on footstrike as I believe it is one part of a larger chain.  I do not think forefoot, midfoot or heel striking is necessarily better than the other as the research simply states that each one loads different structures differently.  A midfoot strike does tend to even things out a bit and a balanced/even approach is usually best.  However, I urge those reading to focus on your overall strength, flexibility, stability and form rather than only focusing on one area of the body.  The foot and ankle are VERY important, but should not be the primary focus when you have far greater force generation potential higher up the chain). 


Although I loved the 6mm drop, it contributed to my overall confusion with the purpose of these shoes. The higher drop made the shoes feel like a trainer rather than a “faster tempo shoe.” While I was a fan of the 6mm drop, many other brands- even from New Balance themselves- offer "lighter more responsive" trainers for speed work with a lower drop. I understand that New Balance wanted to cater towards the "fast, lightweight trainer" market, however, I do not think it was executed properly. When looking at their own line, the Zantes offer more versatility while keeping the same weight profile as the Pace v2s. Furthermore, the 1400 line provides a more response responsive, comfortable cushioning in a lighter package.



Fit/Feel:


New Balance, please keep this!   The upper consists of a smooth, soft textile with overlays for support. I did not experience any blisters or hotspots during my runs. Similar to the Zantes, they incorporate a bootie construction for better mid foot lockdown and overall comfort. The fit around the achilles/heel was soft and did not cause any discomfort. Despite the smooth interior, I would not recommend wearing these sockless unless you are experienced with that. 



New Balance offers the Pave v2s in a standard (D) and wide fit. Therefore, if you have a wider foot, I would suggest trying both versions. The toe box is a little wider than most of the other shoes from New Balance which helps with toe splay. 


toe%20splay%20second.png
Photo from YShu et al., (2015)


Toe Splay is the natural spread of the toes. Most shoes change the foot shape and impede some of the foot's natural ability for stabilization and propulsion. Most commonly, the big toe falls out of line with its corresponding metatarsal bone. Shoes that facilitate a proper toe splay may influence an pain and injuries including plantar fasciitis, bunions, and even metatarsalgia.


Editor's Thoughts as a DPT:

Chris brings up a good point and this is something I tend to hammer with the companies I consult for (as many of them find out quickly). A wide overall shoe fit is not usually necessary but allowing neutral greattoe alignment is very important.  
Bunions are not genetic.  They have many sources that usually arise from limited motion or mobility somewhere.  For those with stiff calves or hallux (first toe) joints, the body cannot progress over the forefoot well.  So instead it usually pivots the foot outward (abducts and everts) to roll off the medial aspect of the first toe.  This throws many things out of alignment all the way up to the pelvis (and occasionally up to the cervical spine as I found with one of my patients recently), but the body needs to get over that forefoot somehow. The continued abnormal loading of the medial side of the big toe joint eventually causes the bone to grow in response to the repeated stress.  This further contributes to the big toe being pushed laterally (hallux valgus) and overstretching of the abductor hallucis.  The abductor hallucis is a very important intrinsic stabilizer of the arch, so this can also contribute to collapsed arches as the body compensates further with excessive abduction and eversion of the midfoot.  So great toe (hallux) alignment is very important, especially for foot and ankle stabilization.  Not everyone has the mobility in the joint as often happens in the older population, which is where something like toe-spring may help to create that natural forefoot rocker.  For everyone else, make sure that joint stays mobile and get shoes that properly fit the foot.  

Weight/Durability:

The main factor that contributed to my confusion with the shoes was the weight. The Vazee Pace v2s are listed at 8.6 ounces in a size 9 (US). As I mentioned before, New Balance themselves offer other models (I.e. Zante, 1400 line) that are the same weight or lighter. Furthermore, they are just as, if not more versatile.

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After 60 miles of rough concrete

I was a fan of the grippy, durable outsole rubber. The mix of carbon and blown rubber contributed to their overall grip. Considering I have put around 60 miles in these, the Pace v2s are an extremely durable shoe and I expect them to last well over 300 miles.




I want to make it clear that I thoroughly enjoyed the shoes. However, I did not find them to be the “greatest” lightweight, responsive racer available. Personally, I couldn't really place them into a niche. Were they a racer or a trainer?

Conclusion and Room for Improvement:

While this is a great shoe for those that prefer more ground feedback/feel, I would like to see a lighter model in the future. Whether they shave a couple ounces off the outsole or thin down the midsole, these would be a great daily, lightweight trainer. As I mentioned before, at 8.6 ounces, many other brands (including New Balance) offer the same snappy, responsive ride in a lighter package, so I would recommend taking a look at all the options before making a purchase.

Thanks for reading and don't forget to tack on!

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this blog belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. My blog should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

Currently Chris has 60 miles on his pair of New Balance Vazee Pace v2. We put at least 50-75 miles on trainers and 25 miles on racing flats prior to reviewing them. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

Dr. Matthew Klein, PT DPT and Chris Park

***Disclaimer: These shoes were purchased for their full US retail price.  We put at least 75 miles on trainers and 25 miles on racing flats.  Currently Chris has 60 miles on them.  

References

Neumann, D. (2012).  Kinesiology of the Musculoskeletal System: Foundations for Rehabilitation - Second Edition.  St. Louis, MI: Mosby Elsevier

Noakes, T. (2003). Lore of Running - Fourth Edition. Champaign, Il: Human Kinetics

Perry, J. (1992). Gait Analysis: Normal and Pathological Function. Thorafare, NJ: SLACK Incorporated.

Shu, Y., Mei, Q., Fernandez, J., Li, Z., Feng, N., Gu, Y. (2015).  Foot Morphological Difference between Habitually Shod and Unshod Runners.  PLos One: 10(7): e0131385.  doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0131385

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Friday, December 29, 2017

Nike Zoom Structure 21 Review

If you have read some of my most recent reviews (or those from Matt), you will know that we both gravitate towards shoes with some sort of “stability” component to their design.  I really liked my first pair of Under Armour Europas (now on pair number two and review HERE) and was curious to try Nike’s flagship moderate stability trainer, the Nike Structure.   Matt had tried on a pair (and run in previous versions) and felt that it was very stable in the rearfoot, but wasn’t jazzed about them as he prefers forefoot stability.   Granted, this shoe is the workhorse for top tier runners like Shalane Flanagan and Galen Rupp and has stood the test of time (this shoe has been around just over two decades!).  The newest iteration of this shoe (the Structure 21) will be a fantastic update to loyal Structure fans and will delight virgin feet (like myself). 

Specifications:
Weight: 9.8oz (M size 9), 9.0oz (W size 8)
Stack Height: 28mm (heel); 18m (forefoot)
Widths available: B, D, 2E, 4E
Classification: Moderate Support Daily Trainer

One can appreciate the “dynamic support” midsole design of the shoe.  The yellow foam is the higher durometer midsole material that tapers from medial to lateral.  Note all the salt stains from running on winter roads.

Upper/Fit:

The fit of the Structure 21 in standard width will be comfortable for most.  It holds the foot securely from heel to midfoot and allows the perfect amount of forefoot volume.  Therefore, if you have a normal width foot, the standard D width will be perfect.  I tried on the D width in store and found it a bit too volumous (but if you have read my other reviews, you will know I have VERY narrow feett).  Luckily, these come in narrow (B width) and they fit perfectly.  The heel counter is firm, but has enough padding to prevent it from being obtrusive.  The foot is held securely over the midsole with a midfoot saddle and inner mesh bootie that is part of Nike’s “dynamic fit” and “dynamic flywire.”  I am personally not a fan of flywire and am glad that Nike reduced the use of it in this version of the Structure.  The top of my foot was irritated by it at times when I ran in the Terra Kiger and found that it is because the laces dig into the foot during the gait cycle.  Instead, the upper material is made of an engineered mesh material (Nike’s “warp-knit mesh”) which is smooth against the foot and offers a snug irritation free fit.

The heel collar is rigid, but well padded.  Anyone looking for excellent hold and control of the posterior aspect of your foot will be happy with these shoes.  Also, you can see how there are two eyelets of flywire.  I do the lace loop trick to take pressure off the flywires on the top of my foot.  It has nothing to do with fit.  I just really can’t stand flywire.

All together, the upper does a tremendous job of working in tandem with the midsole to give, (wait for it) STRUCTURE for the foot during the gait cycle.  There is no horizontal movement of the foot and the heel is locked down.   This is perfect for people like me who have excessive mobility of the rear half of their foot and/or ankle, as it slows the amount of pronation and keeps the foot centered over the midsole unit.  I feel that many shoes miss this aspect of running shoe design in that they neglect in making the upper provide stability (I’ll let Matt throw some fuel to the fire here).  It would be like placing snow tires on a Lamborghini and expecting this rear wheel drive, sports car, to be able to drive on snow.  It is just not going to work and will cause problems!  In regard to the stiff heel counter, I would caution those with sensitive Achilles as the heel counter is internal.  As I mentioned previously, Matt Klein did not like this shoe or similar shoes with this design feature (Brooks Asteria and many Asics models to name a few).  Matt is someone who has extra mobility in his forefoot and benefits from a stable forefoot design (hence his love of the new Skechers Forza 3 and his like of the Adidas Tempo 9).  I will compare these elements to the Under Armour® Europa at the end of this review.  (Editor's Note: I have a weaker peroneus longus than I would like, which causes some instability at the forefoot.  I have a solid rearfoot, so excessive rearfoot stability does not tend to work with my feet.  Dr. Kollias has the exact opposite, so rearfoot stability/posting works very well for him.  Whereas I tend to prefer forefoot stability, which is somewhat rare in the footwear industry but is becoming more common.  See my post on forefoot stability HERE).

Sole/Ride:

The midsole is dual density and is made up of Nike’s Phylon and Cushlon with a zoom air unit located in the forefoot.  The heel is decoupled with a crash pad (I never really understood this technology, but if you want to geek out here is a link https://www.google.com/patents/US8082684) (Editor's Note: Crash Pads were very common in the late 90s and into the early 2000s.  The intention was to absorb shock during heel contact with the thought that decoupling the heel would allow for more shock attenuation.  We are still not sure if this works but some people do well with it) and the outsole is made up of durable Duralon Blown rubber in the forefoot and BRS 1000 carbon runner for traction.  The overall platform of the shoe is semi-straight with a wide base, which lends to an inherently stable nature.  There are also flex groves placed in the forefoot of the shoe, which follows the anatomy of the foot.  Many shoe companies place a flex zone right in midfoot, which is counter intuitive as that part of your foot should not flex like your toes or ankle.   The geometry of the midsole appears to be based off a varus wedge design and not the typical rigid medial posting or T-beam design seen in traditional stability/motion control running shoes.   From my understanding, the midsole is of a higher durometer on the medial side and slopes laterally to a lower durometer (i.e. softer foam) along the lateral aspect of the shoe.  Furthermore, Nike also made the firmer foam slope up to just behind the metatarsal heads of the forefoot providing decreasing guidance for the foot from heel to toe.  Again, this is not a common design element in the majority of stability shoes (the only other shoe that I can think of is the new Skechers GoRun Forza 3), but lends to a very stable riding shoe. 

The darker gray is the higher durometer midsole material.  You can somewhat appreciate the change from gray to white and how there is a progressively thinner amount of gray going up along the medial forefoot.  The overall footprint of this shoe is wider (Especially at midfoot), which equates to a larger landing zone.  The forefoot lugs are very grippy and appear just as tough as those found on the Pegasus.

                So what do all these design elements add up to?  For one, the midsole design works in harmony with the upper.  The secure heel and midfoot allows me to benefit from the dual density midsole, because during the landing phase, the rate of pronation is slowed down and the foot is guided into a neutral push off.  When I run in these shoes, I can appreciate the extra sensory feedback the midsole gives versus running in a strictly neutral shoe.  I feel the slight bias forces my foot to sink a little more on the lateral side, slowing of the inward roll of the posterior aspect of my foot, and how I am able to push off from all my toes evenly.   In strictly neutral shoes, I tend to have excessive pressure placed on my big toe leading to irritation of my hallux longus and likely contributed to my tendinopathy that took me months to recover from completely.  I also feel that the rigid posterior structure and flexible forefoot of the shoe aids in dampening the forces on the metatarsal heads of the toes.  The Structure 21 not having obnoxious toe spring (I cannot stand it!), flexibility, and a responsive forefoot achieves this! This allows the runner to utilize their natural forefoot rocker (Matt can add his expertise HERE in his discussion on toe spring and the forefoot rocker) and gives a firm, stable platform to push off from (thank you zoom air).  I think this is why when I tried the Nike Pegasus 34 I did not like them, as the midsole is too soft in the heel and the zoom air in the heel makes for a less stable landing.  I will echo what Matt has said before with our shoe reviews, “Too soft of a midsole equates to greater instability.”  
     
     Overall, these shoes have been a joy to run in.  They have a very smooth transition from heel to toe with a nice pop at toe off.  They do run on the firmer side, but they have plenty of cushion as a daily trainer and for long runs (I’ve done up to 16 miles at a time in these without issue).  Oh, and the traction is fantastic!  I have fun in slush and on icy roads without slippage (I live in Up State New York).

      In terms of durability, these should last around 400-600 miles easily.  Just like the indestructible Pegasus, the outsole rubber and midsole foams will hold up nicely. I already have over 200 miles on my pair and see little wear and the midsole cushioning is holding up nicely.

Dr. Klein's thoughts as a DPT:

     Dr. Kollias has touched on several things I normally discuss including forefoot stability, toe spring, sole firmness and more that all affect the ride and stability of the shoe.  One cannot make blanket statements about how these will affect people given human variability.  That being said (and the companies whom I consult for will have heard me say this a thousand times) it is always best to try to work with the foot, rather than against it.  That means trying to follow similar principles of biomechanics that the body naturally moves towards.  Fighting them generally causes more issues, so it is best to work with the foot and guide it. 
Image result for Subtalar joint axis
Image from semanticsscholar.com  The photo demonstrates the subtalar joint axis and how it can deviate based on different mechanics or the position of the foot. 

A unique feature that I really like about the Structure 21 is that the wedge/posting (Nike has done somewhat of a combination as Nathaniel mentioned given the material does compress but is slanted with a lateral bias) does follow the subtalar joint axis to a degree.  If you look at the bottom of the shoe, you can see the grey material (posting) slant medially.  This is different from the flex groove you can see running down the middle of the shoe.  This is supposed to help guide the foot forward and is a common feature that Asics is particularly known for.  (Whether it actually works.... we are unsure.  More public research is needed).  The subtalar axis is where inversion and eversion occur, which are important parts of pronation and supination.  The joint is the meeting of the calcaneus and talus.  The actual axis varies depending on the person (see the photo above regarding deviations) and is part of what makes each individual's foot progression angle (progression from heel contact to forefoot) unique.  The problem most companies have is that they may ignore this and try to set up stability in the sagittal plane (front to back).  The joints of the foot and ankle really do not work perfectly in traditional planes, especially in the rearfoot.  The subtalar joint for example usually lies ~40 degrees superior to the sagittal plane and 16-23 degrees off the transverse plane (Neumann, 2012).  This complicates things as those values vary on the person.  This is one of the reasons certain stability (and non-stability) shoes work for some people and not for others.  It depends on whether all the flex grooves and lines match up with your foot, the shape and your unique movement.  The simple way to get around this is to just try shoes on and see if they fit.  While that may seem basic, a great deal of research has shown that many people will self-select the best running shoe for them.  It helps to be a little educated though on what to look for.  So find a shoe that fits your foot well, feels comfortable, smooth and doesn't get in the way of your running. 


Room for Improvement:

This shoe is solidly made, and I can see why the top marathoners for team Nike train in them.  I would like to see the removal of the fly-wire completely if possible, as I do not feel that the few add any value to the fit.  I would also be interested to see if they could incorporate the Zoom X foam into the Structure 22, which will also give the added bonus of dropping some weight.  Oh and Nike, can you please offer some more colors in Men’s narrow please?  Thanks!

Conclusion:

This shoe meets the expectations of its namesake and provides runners needing a little bit extra stability a stellar daily trainer.  Nike did its homework when designing this shoe.  Paying attention to the little details all add up to a great shoe.

Under Armour Europa vs. Nike Zoom Structure 21:

Upper:
This is honestly a tie between the two.  There are aspects that I think that both shoes achieve and areas where improvement is needed.  For one, I appreciate the little notch in the external heel clip on the Europa.  It allows movement of the Achilles without restriction, but still supports the ankle.  The forefoot fit of the Structure is a better hold versus the Europa were some sloppiness can occur in longer runs when the material loosens up.  I will an extra point to Under Armour, because there is more colors available that fit my narrow foot.  This is because the last of the Europa runs narrow in the heel and midfoot.

Midsole:
Europa feels bouncier from heel to toe, with the Structure having a smoother transition from a softer heel to firmer forefoot.  The forefoot though is more flexible in the Europa, whereas the Structure is stiffer which lends to the pop at toe off.  I am finding myself favoring the Structure during runs greater then 10 miles and I think the firmer forefoot helps (remember, soft equals less stable).  Overall, both have smooth running midsoles for daily trainers.

You can see a more traditional posting system utilized in the Europa.  It works in this shoe though as I have tried on other shoes with this design element that have not worked for me.

Stability:
Europa wins this for creativity of really incorporating the upper with the midsole to create a stable riding shoe.  Yet, I like the midsole slightly more in the Structure and I think it has to do with how well the dual density foam works.  The Europa has a more traditional post, which makes a firmer medial heel region.  This contrasts with the Structure where one doesn’t fully appreciate a define region of firmness, as the stability is progressive, with it tapering from the heel region to the forefoot.  They both work in my opinion, just a little bit differently.

Specs:
They are almost identical here.  The fact that both are stability shoes under 10oz for a size 9 is a HUGE plus.  I also feel the price is fair for how many miles you will get out of these shoes.  Overall though, both shoes are well done!

Thanks for reading and don't forget to tack on!

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this blog belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. My blog should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

Currently Dr. Kollias has 231 miles on his pair of Nike Structure 21s. We put at least 50-75 miles on trainers and 25 miles on racing flats prior to reviewing them. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

Dr. Matthew Klein, PT, DPT and Dr. Nathaniel Kollias, DVM, MPH
Orthopedic Resident, Laboratory Animal Resident

***Disclaimer: These shoes were purchased for their full US retail price.  We put at least 75 miles on trainers and 25 miles on racing flats.  Currently Dr. Kollias has 80 miles on them.  

References

Neumann, D. (2012).  Kinesiology of the Musculoskeletal System: Foundations for Rehabilitation - Second Edition.  St. Louis, MI: Mosby Elsevier

Noakes, T. (2003). Lore of Running - Fourth Edition. Champaign, Il: Human Kinetics

Perry, J. (1992). Gait Analysis: Normal and Pathological Function. Thorafare, NJ: SLACK Incorporated.

Richards, C., Magin, P., Callister, R. (2009).  Is your prescription of distance running shoes evidence based? British Journal of Sports Medicine: 43(3): 157-158. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.2009.058453

Like and Follow Kleinruns DPT

Facebook: Kleinruns DPT  Twitter: @kleinruns
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Please feel free to reach out, comment and ask questions!




Sunday, December 17, 2017

Skechers GOmeb Speed 5 Review

The GOmeb Speed 3 was a favorite shoe of mine.  I was somehow able to use that shoe for workouts as well as marathon distance runs through the mountain roads up toward Mt. Baldy.  The GOmeb Speed 3 2016 updated the upper and performed very well as a versatile distance racer.  The GOmeb Speed 4 kept the design a little more snug and firm, but to me they felt a little heavy and stiff.  The Speed 4 felt more like long distance racer confused with short distance racer and a true 5k-10k racer was missing.  The Speed 5 completely fills that gap as the Razor 2 (REVIEW) fills the long distance racer spot.  The Speed 5 has dropped a great deal of weight thanks to the FLIGHT GEN midsole and is now one of my favorite short distance racers.  Even though I have used it for long distance races (10 mile, 10k).  Why?  Let's talk.


Specs
Weight: 5.8 ounces
Drop: 4mm (18/14)
Classification: Racing Flat


Upper/Fit

The fit is very much that of a racing flat.  The upper fits snug with more traditional synthetic upper materials instead of GOknit to provide a secure fit for faster paces.  The upper does run slightly narrow but the mesh around the forefoot stretches to a degree.


The laces on the GOmeb Speed 5 are very thin.  They stayed tied well despite concerns they would come undone.  The upper is thin as well and I was slightly concerned about durability.  However, with my average width foot, after 80 very aggressive miles I have had no issues with the upper.  It has remained durable but I would be careful for those with excessive foot motion.


There is an external heel counter in the posterior section.  I really like external heel counters as they do not rub against my sensitive achilles tendon insertion as much and I did not have any issues with rubbing.  This contributes a bit to the snug hold on the foot.  The counter is not extremely stiff, so I would not worry about rubbing.

The fit is very true to size.  Those looking for a racing flat fit should probably go with their normal size.  I have taken these up to a half marathon distance and have not had issues.  Those with swelling issues may want to go up to a 10.5, but I stayed with my normal 10.0.


Sole/Ride

With the addition of FLIGHT GEN to the midsole, the GOmeb Speed 5 continues to run close to the ground but has more rebound in the sole compared to the previous version.  The plate combined with the new midsole work together to pop you forward when the pace picks up.  The plate is more in the midfoot like the previous version and helps with most transitions, but the FLIGHT GEN in the forefoot is really what makes the shoe pop during toe-off.  The sole is more forgiving that version 4 and has more give to it.  This does not translate to softness but instead more rebound from the sole (FLIGHT GEN again).


The weight has dropped significantly.  A drop to under 6 ounces (5.8) really makes this shoe fly as a 5k-10k racer.  This has been Edward Cheserek's shoe of choice for mile and 5k races and I can understand why.  There is just enough cushioning to protect you during road miles, but it is close enough to the ground to feel fast.  I have used this shoe in distance races recently as I have not been running 5ks, but this has been my go to speed and track shoe due to the lightweight and highly responsive feel.  For those looking for a versatile racer, the GOmeb Speed 5 is worth a look being able to handle mile to half marathon distances for most (some will be able to use it up to the marathon).


The insole is perforated with little holes throughout the length of the shoe.  I assumed this was for drainage, but it actually made me more worried about blisters.  What it ended up doing was giving more traction for my foot and helped with the lock down.  During a 10 mile race I used these for (55:51), I had no blistering and was surprised how well my foot stayed on the platform.



Durability has been fantastic for a racer.  There is only mild wear at the posterior lateral heel after 80 miles.  The FLIGHT GEN has maintained a great deal of the feel and responsiveness.  So expect a high number of miles out of this flat.  I have a brand new pair that I have yet to break in because the old one keeps going.

Surf City 10 miler.  Feet felt comfortable the whole way.  

Thoughts as a DPT

Most people know about the plantar fascia, the large band of connective tissue on the underside of the foot.  Most are not as aware of the other thick ligaments of the plantar arch.  These include the spring ligament (plantar calcaenonavicular), long plantar ligament (long calcaneocuboid) and short plantar ligament (short calcaneocuboid).  These ligaments are deep passive stabilizers and along with the peroneus longus and posterior tibialis stabilize the midfoot.

Image from www.memorangapp.com

If these ligaments are loose, this is where one might see a collapsed or hypermobile arch.  In that case, it is extremely important that the individual have high muscular levels of strength and stability (due to the lack of passive stability).   Plenty of people get away with this but they need to have a maintenance program to keep this area (as well as the hip rotators) very strong.  For those with extremely stiff ligaments, extra care needs to be taken in regards to joint mobility and shock absorption.  Midfoot mobility is an important part of shock absorption during the loading phase of gait.  Without it, extra stress will be placed elsewhere.  Pronation is important in the right amount.  So like anything, there is a balance between hyper and hypo mobility.


The placement of the plate in the GOmeb speed 5 is in a similar spot to these ligaments.  Likely attempting to provide some midfoot stability as well as assisting with the forward roll of the foot.  These are extremely important components of the foot, but just because there is a plate in the shoe or some kind of propulsive or stabilizing element does not mean you should neglect your strength and stability work.

Room for Improvement

I have mentioned this previously, but I would like to see the plate extend a little into the forefoot.  I personally am a fan of the Adios series with the split forefoot torsion plate for balance between the medial and lateral aspects of the forefoot.  I would be curious to see how that would affect a shoe like this (like the original Takumi series, the Tartherzeal and a few others).


Conclusion

The Skechers Performance line is now complete with a neutral trainer (Ride 7), stability shoe (Forza 3), distance racer (Razor 2), lightweight/minimal trainer (GOrun 6), and now a fast racer Speed 5.  For those looking for a 5k-10k (possibly up to half to full marathon and definitely down to the mile) racer with a responsive ride, a plate and a snug fit, look no farther.  The sole is responsive and a little protective for a variety of workouts or races.  The upper holds the foot well and is extremely lightweight.  This shoe is a great example of the very serious direction Skechers Performance continues to take.  I highly suggest taking a look at this shoe.

Thanks for reading and don't forget to tack on!

As always, my views are my own.  My blog should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care.  If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist.  If you are in the LA area, I am taking clients privately for running evaluations based on my Orthopedic Residency schedule. 

Dr. Matthew Klein, PT, DPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Casa Colina Orthopedic Resident

Kaiser SoCal Manual Therapy and Sport Fellow 2018

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  I put at least 75 miles on trainers and 25 miles on racing flats.  Currently my pair of Skechers GOmeb Speed 5s have 80 miles on them.  A big thank you to Skechers Performance for including me in the development of such fantastic performance shoes.  The Skechers GOmeb Speed 5 will be available  January 2018.  I hope this and the rest of the Skechers Performance 2018 line convince local running stores to consider carry this brand.  

Like and Follow Kleinruns DPT

Facebook: Kleinruns DPT  Twitter: @kleinruns
Instagram: @kleinrunsdpt Direct Contact: kleinruns@gmail.com

Please feel free to reach out, comment and ask questions!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Skechers GOmeb Razor 2 Review

The original GOmeb Razor (REVIEW) came to me when I needed a lightweight trainer.  It was a solid shoe that rivaled the Kinvara with a better fit and a more responsive feel.  I couldn't help feeling though that Skechers Performance was missing a solid long distance racer as the original Razor felt a little heavy for racing.  Along came the Razor 2 and that has completely changed.  I have used this shoe as my primary distance workout shoe and in my first marathon (that I found out I was running 9 hours prior).  My first marathon experience at CIM was to be the women's Sub 2:45 Olympic Trials qualifying pacer.  With a hard tempo on my legs the day before, I still managed to easily run 2:44:26 and pace several women under the standard.  I attribute a great deal of this to the Razor 2.  During the race they never felt like they bottomed out and felt protective yet responsive when I sprinted the last 100m.  So let's go into a little more detail on this distance racer.


Stats
Weight: 6.8 oz (men's size 9)
Drop: 4-6mm
Classification: Half/Full Marathon Racer, Lightweight Trainer

GOmeb Razor 2s at work in my first marathon and first time as a pacer.  

Upper/Fit

As with many Skechers Performance shoes, there is continued use of the GOknit upper.  This version is much smoother than previous and hugs the foot very well.  The previous version ran a bit wide, whereas this version runs a little more narrow than other Skechers Performance shoes due to the racing fit.  The upper stretches very well but definitely holds the foot snugly.  During the marathon, the upper disappeared on my feet and I had no hot spots or blisters.


The laces are well connected to the upper and really help dial the fit in.  Some people may have to relax them a bit while others will feel right at home cinching them down.


The upper is fairly soft and a bit unstructured (but better than previous).  This took some getting used to at first until the later versions firmed up the upper a little.  The densities of the upper change depending on where more support is needed.  As long as the laces are tied down well, my feet do not slide around.  Taking sharp corners is probably not the best in this shoe but this was somewhat corrected in a later version.  There is a little more of a heel counter in the posterior section of the shoe.  It is still very minor and a majority of people will not notice it.  For those that have sensitive feet to hard aspects of the upper, this is a great shoe to take a look at.


Sole/Ride

As with the other 2018 Skechers Performance shoes, the midsole has been updated with FLIGHT GEN.  Gone is the semi-firm ride that deadens after 150 miles.  Now is the mildly soft AND responsive sole that just seems to keep going.  FLIGHT GEN definitely has some rebound in it and this was the first faster shoe I tried with it (and I love it).  The sole is very protective for longer racing yet responds well even when I have used them for speed workouts.  I have used both my pairs for extended periods of time and have 185 miles on one pair.  Although the sole is wearing down, the worn pair still feel great and I have continued to use them (but will likely retire them before 250 miles as I chew through outsoles).  The previous version wore down far faster, so durability has improved on the outsole and the sole continues to maintain its integrity.

5GEN mark but the sole is FLIGHT GEN

The sole is very flexible thanks to the flex grooves and mild sole softness. The shoe moves very well through the forefoot and the toe-off is smooth.  I personally do not like a ton of toe-spring and prefer a more flexible forefoot to allow a natural transition during toe-off.  For those that need a little bit structure or toe-spring due to lacking mobility, others shoes may be better.  For those that dislike toe-spring, this shoe is perfect.  While there is a minor amount in the GOmeb Razor 2, it lets your foot roll naturally forward, which is something I really like.  To be fair I also spend a great deal of time working on appropriate foot mobility and I am young.  This may change in 40 years....


The somewhat unstructured upper and sole make it perfect for those that want a no nonsense racer.  For those that need some stability, orthotics actually fit well in the shoe and there will be a similar light stability shoe with a similar weight coming in 2019 (stay tuned).  Despite needing a little stability (which is why I like the GOrun Forza 3 so much), I did fine during the marathon and during all my longer workouts.  The sole maintained the responsive/soft feel throughout the 26.2 miles and felt good enough for me to sprint at the end.

Black pair has 185 miles, Yellow Pair has 110 miles.

The ounce weight drop compared to the previous version (7.7 oz to 6.8 oz) is very noticeable, especially when the pace picks up.  A great deal of this is from the midsole switch to FLIGHT GEN, which only further adds to the faster ride.  The GOmeb Razor 2 now feels like a racing shoe that should work well as a long or even mid distance racer for some and a very lightweight trainer for others.  It is definitely more of a racer than lightweight trainer although many will still get away with using it as the latter.  For those that are not used to lighter shoes, the Razor 2 may work as a 5k to 10k shoe if you are looking for a little bit more protection than the traditional ultra light 5 oz racers.


The heel drop is on the lower end at 4mm (ish).  However with the insole in, it feels more like a 6mm drop shoe.  This is splitting hairs, but for those that like that low drop (but not 0mm) this is a great level.  For others that need a bit more, a simple trick I often use is to cut the back off another pair of insoles and place them under the heel to increase the drop (I used to do this with Altra running shoes).


Thoughts as a DPT

I am at a point in my Orthopedic Residency where I have learned no nonsense is often best.  Taking a simple approach to things is often more effective and I have made the mistake of over complicating things in the past.  The GOmeb Razor 2 reminds me of why keeping things simple is often good.  The shoe fits well, the sole responds well and there are no extra unnecessary frills.  My one thought with a long distance racer is that I do wish there was some kind of plate to stabilize the sole a little more.  This is a request that has obviously evolved with the frequent use of plates in road racing shoes that has only become more popular with the Adios, Vaporfly, GOmeb Speed and many Japan only racing shoes.  I personally like them because they not only give a little more structure to the sole, but they (if used correctly) can facilitate some of the normal mechanics of the foot.


That being said, if they are done incorrectly (put in the wrong spot, too stiff, etc), there are some problems that can occur.  I have had several patients in the last few months come in with issues from the recent Nike Vaporfly craze.  While many people will not have this issue, the foot does need to move, particularly at the midfoot and toe joints.  If these plates are too stiff, some of the natural foot motion will be limited.  While I understand that the ultimate goal is to improve efficiency (hence 4%), there are still some areas that need to be allowed to move.

Image from www.familypodiatryofmd.com

The talocrural joint (ankle joint.  also called tibiotalar joint) is an obvious joint that needs to move to allow the ankle to dorsi and plantar flex throughout the gait cycle.  I have talked before about the MTP joints at the toes and how they need to be able to dorsiflex (extend) to allow the body to transition over them during toe-off.  A point I do not mention as often as I should is that the midfoot should definitely move.  This tends to be the "shock absorbing" set of joints where the foot attenuates a great deal of impact forces.  People tend to fixate on stabilizing this area as a portion (yes portion... not all) of pronation occurs there.  Pronation needs to occur for normal foot motion.  It is one of the many important ways the body absorbs shock.  If you pronate too much, that may be a problem.  However research is actually mixed on this and some studies even suggest that pronation is protective AGAINST injury.  This simply speaks to the fact that injury prediction is multi-faceted and may not be predictable from looking at a single joint or even body part.

So I would like to see a plate in the future GOmeb Razor to stabilize the sole and facilitate propulsion now that it is more of a racer, but that is a personal request.  As always, different shoes will work for different people, so you need to find what works for you.


Room for Improvement

As I just mentioned, I would like to see some kind of propulsive plate in this shoe simply because it is a racing shoe now.  I hope Skechers also includes their new FLIGHT GEN midsole material in the shoe, but I have heard rumor that the current sole is actually a mix (will have to confirm).  Especially since the new GOmeb Speed 5 is definitely a fast racing flat (review soon) that will work well for mile to 10k races (half marathon at most for me), the future Razor may do well with a little more structure to follow suit as a long distance racer.


Conclusion

Like all the shoes in the Skechers Performance 2018 line, the GOmeb Razor 2 has evolved.  It is now a fast, no nonsense distance racer that will work up to the marathon yet has the speed to handle shorter workouts.  Some may be able to use it as a very lightweight trainer but the 6.8 oz weight definitely lends to racing more.  The upper is very comfortable although runs a little narrower.  The sole is bouncy, flexible and will give you just enough protection over long miles.  As I said, I used this shoe at the last second for my first marathon and came away with no blisters and very happy feet/legs.  Excited to see what happens when I go after my first competitive marathon (not as a pacer) and these will likely be on my feet during that time (later in 2018).

Thanks for reading and don't forget to tack on!

As always, my views are my own.  My blog should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care.  If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist.  If you are in the LA area, I am taking clients privately for running evaluations based on my Orthopedic Residency schedule. 

Dr. Matthew Klein, PT, DPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Casa Colina Orthopedic Resident

Kaiser SoCal Manual Therapy and Sport Fellow 2018

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  I put at least 75 miles on trainers and 25 miles on racing flats.  Currently my pairs of GOmeb Razor 2s have 185 and 112 miles on them.  A big thank you to Skechers Performance for including me in the development of such fantastic performance shoes.  The Skechers GOmeb Razor 2 will be available  January 2018.  I hope this and the rest of the Skechers Performance 2018 line convince local running stores to consider carry this brand.  

Like and Follow Kleinruns DPT

Facebook: Kleinruns DPT  Twitter: @kleinruns
Instagram: @kleinrunsdpt Direct Contact: kleinruns@gmail.com

Please feel free to reach out, comment and ask questions!