Thursday, April 19, 2018

Brooks Ravenna 9 Review



Introduction:
Brooks running company is a shoe brand that I feel has lagged in joining the 21st century of running shoes.  I say this, because the overall design of the shoes up until recently has made one feel like you were running in the 1990s.  But this year appears to be a pivotal turning point for Brooks Running with the release of their DNA Amp midsole material and sleek new look of their uppers and midsole geometries.   One shoe in particular that exemplifies this new refreshing trend for Brooks is the Ravenna 9.  A shoe that looks nothing like its predecessor and simply calling it an update to the Ravenna 8 would be a gross understatement.  I also may or may not have found my new favorite shoe… but let’s get to the review!

Specifications:
Weight – 9.3oz size 9 (men's)
Heel to Toe Offset - 10mm
Midsole Material – BioMoGo DNA®
Stability Technology: Progressive diagonal roll bar
Category of Shoe – Lightweight stability, daily trainer

Love the look of this shoe.  Very modern with the one piece engineered mesh.  Sometimes keeping it simple is the way to go both from a functionality standpoint as well as fashion.

Upper and Fit:
All I have to say is WOW!  This shoe fits my foot perfectly!  The upper is a modern engineered mesh that is one piece with no overlays or welded seams.  The mesh hugs the foot beautifully and provides excellent ventilation on the run with no hot spots appreciated.  The lacing system is standard with an extra eyelet if you need to use the lace lock technique (you probably won’t and this is coming from me who almost always has to use it for shoes). The heel counter is firm and prominent, but amply padded to reduce irritation to those with sensitive Achilles.  It also is beveled, which means that the shape follows the natural shape of the heel.  A lot of companies still make heels that flare out way too much (Nike Epic React, Adidas Ultra Boost, VaporFly 4%), which can lead to premature contact leading to instability on landing.  But the most important aspect of the heel counter is that it actually holds the posterior part of the foot - and does it hold it well!  There is absolutely zero heel slippage or movement in this shoe.  Thank you Brooks for being the first shoe company to ever make daily trainer shoe that is narrow in the heel and midfoot with enough room in the forefoot.  I thought it would never happen, but Brooks did their research in designing this shoes upper fit.  Despite the snug fit of the upper, the foot does not feel compressed and even if you have an average to moderately wide foot, there is enough give to the upper to obtain a comfortable fit.  The toe box length is also an area where shoe companies either add too much length (Salming, Skechers) or too little (Adidas), but again, Brooks gives just enough volume for the forefoot without being sloppy.   The final point about the upper I’d like to make is the design.  These shoes look awesome!  I don’t feel like I am wearing a pair of old man running shoes.  I love the bright colors and the subtle reflective material along the midfoot saddle and the Brooks Running logo embedded within the engineered mesh.  Welcome to the 21st century of running shoes Brooks.

Note nice beveling of the heel and a slight bias (minimal flare) on the medial side of the heel.  The heel cup is firm, but there is enough padding in the heel collar to minimize Achilles irritation.
I also would like to talk about how well this shoe fits and how critically important it is (especially for a stability shoe).  First let’s talk about the heel.  The secure fit of the posterior part of the foot allows the foot to fully engage with the decoupled heel and lessens the amount of mobility in the heel/ankle region.  The end result is the foot and shoe work in tandem, which increases comfort and ultimately compliments one’s gait.  Furthermore, having such a snug upper allows the foot to fully engage with the midsole unit (see below about the progressive roll bar).  I feel this comfort and sensation of the shoe disappearing is extremely important and it appears more and more studies agree with this concept.  This is likely due to the fact that a comfortable shoe is one that works with your foot and not against it.  Why it is extremely important to try many different types of shoes and to not peg yourself into one category.  For example, I have some shoes that are neutral that I can run in without issues, but other neutral models that I cannot.  My point is, every shoe is different and every person’s foot and gait is different.  Don’t be afraid to try something new and different (but with caution).

I was able to lace these up without using the last loop.  That never happens for me on a shoe!  Even if you have a wider foot, the engineered mesh will have enough give to feel comfortable.  Also there is no overlays, so nothing to poke or irritated your foot.
Midsole/Ride:
The magic material in this shoe for the midsole is Brooks patented BioMoGo DNA.  This midsole material is described by Brooks Running as the following: “BioMoGo DNA fuses BioMoGo midsole and DNA cushioning technology for a fully custom responsive ride that adapts to the needs of each and every runner.”  Yes, I know it may sound a bit gimmicky, but it works. Basically what this foam consists of is gel and EVA that is blended together, which creates a non-Newtonium material. So you are probably wondering, “What in the world is non-Newtonian material?”  This type of material is a substance that when a force is applied to it, it behaves differently than one would expect. Before I lose you completely, I’ll give you a perfect example using corn starch. If you place your hand in it gently, it is easy submerge your hand.  But, if you attempt to smash your hand on the surface it becomes solid.  Here is a link to a cool YouTube video showing this concept in action (https://youtu.be/RkLn2gR7SyE) pretty nifty right? This is true of Brook’s midsole BioMoGo DNA technology (see link here รจ (http://www.brooksrunning.com/en_us/01-12-2010.html?q=shoes).  When running at slower paces you can appreciate a nice level of protection from the road (not pillow soft, but protective), but when the pace is increased the material firms up and you really appreciate the explosiveness of the BioMoGo DNA foam with increased force.

The magic of the DNA cushioning noted on the bottom of the exposed heel midsole.

Now that I have completely geeked out over the DNA foam component of the midsole material, let’s talk about how it feels when running.  Once again, I was (and continue) to be blown away by how freaking comfortably this shoe is.  Honestly, I cannot think of a more perfect shoe for my gait, foot shape/size, and feel.  This shoe can work for any type of run and even with a stability component can work for even neutral runners.  This is because the stability element utilized in the midsole is a progressive roll bar and a mild medial post in the heel. Using a diagonal roll bar means that the density gradually decreases from the media aspect of the shoe to the lateral aspect and is placed in the midfoot to forefoot region.  What this means is the foot is unobtrusively deaccelerated to help lessen the speed of internal rotation (i.e over pronation) of the heel/midfoot during landing and push off in the gait cycle.  This is opposite of a traditional post, which is merely a very dense piece of plastic or midsole material placed along the midfoot or heel.  In other words, one can think of a traditional post as a stop sign and the diagonal roll bar as a speed bump.  Both are designed to slow you down, but the speed bump guidance gives a gentle reminder versus the stop sign making you come to a dead stop.  That’s why my physical therapist likes this type of stability because it works with the foot, not against it.  I’ll also let Matt throw in his thoughts on this manner as well.

Medial View
Lateral View

The outsole is made up of blown rubber and has excellent traction, even on snowy roads.  I also appreciate the decent amount of forefoot flex and the rigidity of the heel to midfoot.  I point out this design aspect, because it allows a very smooth controlled transition from heel to forefoot during the gait cycle and flexes at the appropriate location (there shouldn’t be a flex zone in the heel and/or midfoot as these regions of the human foot are rigid structures with no joints).  Brooks did their homework here and prove once again how form follows function. 

Note the "X" in the midfoot region.  This is the transition zone were the diagonal roll bar engages with the foot.  The solid blue heel is the medial side and the midsole durometer (or hardness) decreases laterally and anterior (towards the front) of the shoe.  Paired with a prominent flew zones in the forefoot for the toes results in a very smooth gait cycle.

Thoughts as DPT (Dr. Matthew Klein PT DPT):


I definitely approve of what Brooks did with the Ravenna 9.  Instead of the heavily posted shoe in the past, they modified it using a diagonal roll bar or progressive posting as I call it.  I am happy that more companies are moving toward this.  Adidas is using this with progressive Boost (called energized stability), New Balance has done this with the Vongo, Skechers with the Forza and a few others. Stability should be progressive and not overbearing.  The progressive stability better mimics how the arch is controlled.  It is controlled by muscles, which lower the arch eccentrically.  This eccentric loading improves shock absorption, instead of just a rigid stop.  Rigid feet actually may have higher rates of injury compared to flexible feet due to the lack of shock absorption.  Thus the stability in shoes should reflect that progressive loading.  Hence why the progressive diagonal roll bar is such a great idea.  My other non-biomechanical input is that I am excited to see another light stability shoe on the market.  This market is small (and apparently can be difficult to sell), but personally find that a little stability goes a long way.  Whereas a great deal tends to inhibit or restrict things.  There are obviously biomechanical exceptions to this, but I personally would rather have a little stability and some muscle/movement retraining rather than a person just relying on the stability without working on themselves.  


Image from Brooks Running

Durability:
I have approximately 100miles on this pair and so far I see little to no wear on the outsole.  The midsole still has plenty of spring and cushioning life. I am very light on my feet, but for the average runner I could someone getting 300 miles out of these due to the fact that they are light weight trainers.  The uppers also have been holding up well, especially impressive since this winter (and the large quantities of salt on the road) never seems to leave here in upstate New York.

Room for improvements:
Brooks, if you happen to read this. PLEASE DO NOT CHANGE THIS SHOE.  Thanks.

Conclusions:
Brooks did an amazing job on revamping a shoe that was dated and clunky.  Brooks now has a versatile light/moderate weight daily trainer with light stability that can work for a wide range of runners.  The current trend in running companies is to slap some fancy new squishy bouncy everlasting foam and claiming it to be a miracle shoe.  The reality of the matter is that you still need to have proper form for the shoe.  The form being how the upper, midsole/outsole, and materials feel and interact with the foot.  Sure you can put a V8 engine in a minivan, but it will never have the aerodynamics of a Ferrari. Why, because form follows function.  A shoe should complement, not fight your foot and gait cycle and I feel that Brooks definitely followed that scientific principal with designing this shoe.  The Ravenna 9 is a fantastic shoe that is affordable and has the versatility to be used as an all-purpose shoe from long runs to intervals on the track and can work for neutral to excess mobility in the ankle and posterior foot alike.


Out on the run!
Thanks for reading!

Dr. Nathaniel S Kollias, DVM, MPH
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Masters of Public Health 
Cornell University Laboratory Animal Medicine Resident 

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website 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.

Dr. Matthew Klein, PT, DPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Kaiser SoCal Manual Therapy and Sport Fellow
***Disclaimer: These shoes were a personal purchase from Running Warehouse and were purchased at their full US retail price. We put at least 50-75 miles on trainers and 10-25 miles on racing flats prior to reviewing them. Currently I have 130 miles on my pair of Ravenna 9s. 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.
Like and Follow Doctors of Running
Facebook: Doctors of Running  Twitter: @kleinruns
Instagram: @kleinrunsdpt Direct Contact: doctorsofrunning@gmail.com

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

Monday, April 9, 2018

Adidas Adizero Sub2 Review

I have subtly been an Adidas fan for some time now.  The Adidas Tempo 5 remains one of my favorite trainer/racers and if they still made them, would be my go to shoe for tempos and distance races.  The unboosted Adios 2 remains a favorite for long workouts and trail races (I still have a few pairs).  The Adidas Takumi Sen and Ren 1 and 2 will forever be one of my favorite racers.  Yet I have had some trouble with the boost.  I have enjoyed training recently in the Adidas Supernova, but likely due to the wider base which can offset the occasional unstable feeling of the Boost.  I always hoped Adidas would firm the Boost up a bit to give it a more stable feeling and always wished the Adios or Takumi series would be just a bit lighter.  My pair of Sen 1 and 2s are long gone, so looking for a favorite 5k-10k racer has been difficult... until the Sub2 came along.  I had been talking with various contacts about this shoe for over a year and was very interested to see what Adidas was going to produce in the race to the sub 2 hour marathon.  Now that it is here, is it the Sub2 shoe? Well.. let's talk.



Specs (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 5.5 oz
Drop: 6mm (21mm/15mm)
Classification: Racing Flat


Upper/Fit

The Adidas Adizero Sub2 has a very different upper from most Adidas shoes.  A full mesh upper is utilized that is thin, snug, but a little more anatomic than normal.  The mesh is almost see through, but has internal reinforcements at the midfoot (via the three stripes internally).  There is a mild heel counter that does not come all the way up, so the Achilles tendon clears it and should not cause problems.  The heel counter is flexible and has not caused me any issues.  There is a very mild and soft internal toe guard that I almost didn't notice, so that should not cause any issues.


The mesh is snug but is more anatomical than most Adidas shoes.  The medial aspect of the toebox fits straighter for the big toe while the lateral aspect is a bit more curved.  This is not an Altra shoe, but it fits better on the foot than most racing shoes.  The fit is snug and on the narrower side which is common for faster shoes, but again does so comfortably for me.


The fit is very true to size.  I would definitely not order smaller and some may need to order a half size up if wearing thick socks.  I wear thin socks and have found them to fit snug and spot on in a size 10 (my normal size for running shoes).  Overall the upper is simple but effective, which is definitely the theme for this shoe!


Sole

This is where things get interesting.  The Sub2 debuts the Boost Lite, which is a far lighter and firmer version of the traditional Boost.  It is still very responsive, but is noticeably firmer.  The Boost lite runs the entire length of shoe and makes up the entirety of the midsole (no EVA here).  There is a full length and full ground contact Continental outsole that provides great durability and traction.   


Speed/Ride

The Sub2 is very fast at high speeds.  This is not a shoe you use for jogging or easy runs.  The firmer Boost Lite responds well at mile pace up to half marathon pace for me.  I have used it for track workouts and some short tempos and will replace all my 5k-10k shoes.  I thought there would not be enough shoe for longer workouts, but the Boost Lite is surprisingly protective despite how light the shoe is.  The 6mm drop not too low and seems to be my sweet spot for most racing shoes, but for me is a a little too low for marathon racing.  For the half marathon it would be a tough call between this and the 361 Feisu (REVIEW)


Given that there is no plate and only boost, the Sub2 is  flexible. There are some very mild flex grooves throughout the shoe that allow motion but still keep some stiffness (also thanks to the Boost Lite) to make the shoe pop off the ground.  The Boost Lite is awesome and I wish this had been integrated into more Adidas racing shoes earlier.  It is firmer and far more stable than traditional Boost, making running fast easy in this shoe.  The shoe is very stable overall due to the slightly wider sole last.  There is no major narrowing at the midfoot and instead the width from the heel continues then broadens into the forefoot.  There is good heel bevel at the posterior lateral aspect of the shoe that very much smooths out landings back there.  The Boost Lite does extend beyond the foot, which would normally create a flare but it curves back under the shoe, creating a slightly wider sole and reducing flare at the same time.  Again another subtle way to create stability.  There is some toe spring, but it is mild compared to most Adidas shoes (especially the Adios 3 REVIEW)


Outsole/Durability

Adidas typically uses Continental rubber for their outsoles and this usually (the Ultra Boost is an exception) makes for great durability.  The Sub2 is no exception, even at 5.5 ounces.  After 21 miles I am seeing almost no wear and expect to get 200 miles out of this shoe or possibly more despite being a racing flat.


Thoughts as a DPT

I am very impressed at how responsive the ride of the Sub2 is just using Boost Lite and no shank or plate.  This shoe is very fast when the speed picks up.  The lack of a plate or shank means the shoe will not restrict the foot in any major spot, particularly the metatarsal and phalangeal joints.  The stability is made up for with the wider last, full ground contact outsole, firmer Boost and a midsole that extends slightly beyond the foot without being a flare (because it rounds back down under the foot). 

This shoe has done everything right that I could have asked for.  There is a slightly more anatomic last without being clown like while maintaining that snug racing flat feel.  The toebox is more rounded at the lateral forefoot and is slightly straighter along the big toe.  There is some decent but not overdone heel bevel at the posterior lateral aspect of the heel. The Boost Lite and midsole sits slightly wider than the upper/foot position, but is lightly curved to minimize any major sole flare.  There is a heel counter but it stays low and is somewhat flexible.  The whole shoe is flexible, especially in the forefoot.  However it is not so much that it qualifies as a minimal shoe, so there is enough stiffness to still be fast.  The shoe last is stable as the midfoot is not overly narrow and maintains the same width from the heel, then expanding into a wider forefoot.  I do not know why this is so hard, but that last part is one of my favorite things (other than the lightweight, boost lite, awesome fit and responsive ride).  So many companies overly narrow the midfoot, which by default makes it more unstable.

So like my previous review of the 361 Feisu, I am happy Adidas decided to do something simple but very effective. The Boost Lite is firmer than traditional Boost, so still as responsive but far more stable.  But that is it for major technologies other than a great fitting, lightweight racer.  Just making simple better.


Conclusion

I am a huge fan of the Adidas Adizero Sub2.  I see it more as a 5k to half marathon shoe at most due to the 5.5 oz, 6mm drop and ride, but many will be able to take it to the marathon.  I would really like to to see Boost Lite integrated into the Adios.  The Adios can definitely be lighter (Streak 6, Vaporfly are over an ounce lighter) and I think the firmer Boost Lite combined with a similar mesh upper  would make a more stable, lighter and better fitting shoe.  The women's half marathon world record was recently set in this shoe and I can understand why.  This is one of my favorite shorter distance racers from Adidas and I am happy they now have such a good 5k-half marathon flat after the disappointment of the Takumi Sen 3.  Looking forward to further racing and trainer development from them!

Thanks for reading!

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website 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.

Dr. Matthew Klein, PT, DPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Kaiser SoCal Manual Therapy and Sport Fellow

***Disclaimer: These shoes were a personal purchase from Running Warehouse and were purchased at their full US retail price. .  We put at least 50-75 miles on trainers and 10-25 miles on racing flats prior to reviewing them. Currently I had 21 miles on my pair. My views are based on my extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. 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.

Like and Follow Doctors of Running
Facebook: Doctors of Running  Twitter: @kleinruns
Instagram: @kleinrunsdpt Direct Contact: doctorsofrunning@gmail.com

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

Friday, April 6, 2018

361 Feisu Review

I love Asian market racing shoes.  I loved the Adidas Takumi Sen and Ren series but was somewhat disappointed with the current iterations (reviews of v3 HERE and HERE ).  I love the Nike Zoom Rival and Zoom Speed Racers that were eventually brought over to the us (reviews HERE and HERE).  Having gone through all those shoes and not being the biggest fan of the ride of many Asics and Mizuno shoes, I was waiting for something else to come along.  I had heard about the Feisu being inspired by the Japanese racing shoes (ironic coming from a Chinese brand) but did not expect them to come so soon.  Suddenly I had a pair of beautiful racing flats on my doorstep.  And they did not disappoint.  Inspired by the Japanese design of simple and fast, the Feisu is the kind of shoe I have been looking for.  Why?  Let's talk.


Specs (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 6.4oz (men's size 9)
Drop: 9mm (26mm/17mm Heel to Forefoot)
Classification: Racing Shoe


Upper/Fit

The upper is very simple.  What you need an nothing more.  Utilizing an air mesh upper and a micro fiber suede, the upper is lightweight and comfortable.  The mesh is breathable (definitely not a cold weather shoe) and very comfortable against the skin.  The upper suede is soft against the skin and the toe bumper is also soft, making this a possible shoe to use sockless.  I have run a few times without socks, but due to the slightly long fit, would suggest them just in case.  For those used to this, you should be fine to sail sans socks.


The fit is slightly long but I would still stick with your normal size, particularly when using socks.  Like most Japanese racers, the toe box is a little wider and the heel is a little narrower. I really like the fit as it sits just right on my foot with enough room not to squeeze the foot but snug enough through the heel and midfoot (due to the Fitz-Ritz in the midfoot) that the foot is held down well.  The forefoot is not super wide, but thanks to a greater taper on the lateral aspect of the forefoot than the medial (slightly straighter on the medial side for the hallux), the fit is a little more anatomical than most racers.


The heel fit is a little narrower and holds the foot snug. There is a heel counter that travels up to the posterior midfoot.  It is thinner and there is some upper cushion, so I have not had any issues with my sensitive Achilles insertion.


I would like to give bonus points for the suede toe guard.  Thank you 361 for not using one of the blister inducing plastic ones. This does increase the durability without taking skin off.


Sole

The sole of the 361 Feisu is (essentially) full ground contact.  This makes the shoe more inherently stable.  The addition of the mild lugs on the bottom help grip the road well.  Los Angeles has had some decent rain in the last few months and the Feisu was my go to workout shoe during that time.  I never slipped on the wet ground and found them to have excellent traction.


There are several flex grooves in the outsole.  Although there are a few in the midfoot (which is generally a no-no since there are no sagittal plane joints there), most lie in the forefoot.  With that comes much better flexibility in the forefoot, making for a very nice transition during toe off.


The Feisu has more of a performance last, meaning the midfoot is a bit narrower.  However, the sole is somewhat wider than most racing shoes (including the midfoot) making the shoe more stable.  I notice this most during slower miles as slower speeds can mean more force in directions outside of the sagittal plane (forward to back).  Most racing shoes feel terrible jogging because of the more narrow and thus unstable soles.  The Feisu not only has the light 6.4 oz going for it, but the combination with the wider last makes them stable at all speeds.


Speed/Ride

The Feisu has a fast ride.  The sole is completely EVA (no QU!KFOAM) and has a kick when the pace picks up.  This is interesting given all the companies using different foam types, that the pure EVA feels so good.  The drop feels around 7-9mm and is not too low or too high for me.  The forefoot has great flexibility as mentioned earlier and the toe off feels great at all speeds.  There is some mild toe spring but not enough to cause any issues for me.  There is also some mild heel bevel that smooths out heel landings (361 is slowly getting better at this).

This is a great light shoe for distance workouts (thanks to the higher drop, personal preference) but has the speed to run down to 5k races or do track workouts.  6.4 oz is extremely light for the amount of shoe there and reminds me somewhat of the old T7 racer and Hyperion but with a far better fit and way more stable.  This is the type of shoe I have been looking for and would be my first choice for a half or full marathon racer given the fit, lightweight, responsiveness AND protection underfoot.


There is plenty of midsole there to protect the feet over long miles.  Many shoes in this weight range have very little cushioning but there is enough that I would no doubt use this as a half to full marathon racer (as mentioned previously).   My feet have felt great no matter what the distance of the workout I have used them for (intervals or longer tempos).  So for those that need a lightweight faster shoe that will save their legs (and are not willing to spend >$250 for a shoe like the Vaporfly 4% REVIEW), try the Feisu.



Outsole/Durability

As with most 361 shoes, durability has been phenomal.  Despite being a racer, I have close to 40 miles on my pair and there is little wear.  I have only used this shoe for road running and despite my heavy footstrike (working on that), the midsole feel has also remained consistent.  The Feisu did not need any time to break in as I was able to do a workout in these right out of the box (tempo run).  Even the lugs have not worn down.  I would expect to get over 200 miles out of these if not more for others.


Thoughts as a DPT

The Feisu is the kind of shoe that reminds me how effective and sexy being simple can be.  This is a great looking and riding shoe, yet it is has a simple EVA midsole, a good fit that give a bit of wiggle room in the forefoot and a snug heel.  There is nothing magic about this shoe, yet it is what I wanted out of so many previous racing shoes.  The Adios, Hyperion, Streak, Chaser are all good shoes, but all lacked a little something.  All of those shoes have extras: plates, special midsoles, etc.  The Feisu feels better and faster than all of them, yet only has EVA.  Why?  Because sometimes the simplest answer is the best.  That is why many of the Japanese racers like the Asics Sortie series have changed very little over the years but still remain favorites in the Asian market.

My experience as a Sport Fellow at Kaiser has definitely emphasized this.  While I am learning all these cool and amazing new things (treatments, assessments, thought processes, systems, etc), I am amazed how often going back to the basics of movement, strength, coordination and endurance solve a majority of the performance issues out there.  I can't tell you how many of my elite athletes (olympic runners, professional basketball players, elite gymnasts) have weak gluteal muscles, sub par balance, poor scapular coordination, etc.  Some people have complex issues, but most don't.  So instead of making things complicated, making simple better is a key thing I have continued to revisit.  The Feisu is a great example of this.  A great fit, comfortable upper, light weight, responsive ride, decent flexibility, somewhat wider forefoot (fit and stability) a little drop (for longer races) and a snug heel are pretty much all you need for a successful distance racer. 


Conclusion

For those looking for a Japanese inspired protective lightweight racer with a little more drop and a wonderful fit, take a look at the 361 Feisu.  This is a fantastic shoe for distance races like the marathon and half marathon but is light enough to be used for shorter workouts/races.  A snug heel and a slightly wider forefoot make for a comfortable fit that combined with a great ride make for a shoe that will keep you going for miles.

Thanks for reading!

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website 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.

Dr. Matthew Klein, PT, DPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Kaiser SoCal Manual Therapy and Sport Fellow

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge by 361 USA in exchange for a review. .  We put at least 50-75 miles on trainers and 10-25 miles on racing flats prior to reviewing them. Currently I had 46 miles on my pair. My views are based on my extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. 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.

Like and Follow Doctors of Running
Facebook: Doctors of Running  Twitter: @kleinruns
Instagram: @kleinrunsdpt Direct Contact: doctorsofrunning@gmail.com

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

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Reebok OSR Harmony Racer Review

When I was working in running retail stores years ago, Reebok was a bit of a myth/legend.  They were not selling true running shoes in specialty retail, yet many of the older retired elite runners I worked with spoke of how good they used to be.  ZAP Fitness was around and glimpses were seen of true running shoes on the feet of those elite, but for the rest of us?  Nothing.  Then things changed in the last few years.  A huge push was made (successfully in my mind) into the CrossFit market.  Then... finally.. a return to running.  I have not yet run fully in the Float Ride run, but having put them on was very interested in their new midsole material.  I have a pair Harmony Road 2 I am working on, but as always, the racing flat was what caught my interest most.  The OSR Harmony Racer.  I love racing flats, and these are no different.  A effective, fast but no BS ride that will race a variety of distances.  Let's talk about this shoe. 


Specs (per Reebok)
Weight: 6.0 oz (men's 9)
Drop: 6mm
Classification: Racing Flat


Upper/Fit

The fit is on the narrow side, which is normal for racing shoes.  However, the oblique last in the upper makes this shoe unique.  The human foot was definitely kept in mind with this shoe (but not in a barefoot/minimalist extreme way).  There is less curve laterally on the first toe (hallux) which gives it some extra room to stay straight.  The heel fit is fairly normal to slightly narrow, the midfoot is narrow and the forefoot opens up slightly for a little more room. 


There is a toe guard but it is fairly minimal. The upper is extremely comfortable overall.  I enjoyed running sockless in this shoe without any issue.  I would definitely prefer to wear socks for longer races, but for 5k I would consider going sockless.  The upper is comfortable, thin and fits well.  The heel area has a minor counter, but I did not feel it. 


Most Reebok running shoes (Harmony Road, Floatride Run) have run a little long for me.  I tend to wear pretty thin socks, so that might be an influence.  The OSR Harmony Racer was similar but fit more true than the other two.  With socks they fit fine early in the morning (without any foot swelling yet).  Later in the day they fit fine without socks.  So I would probably stay with your normal size. 


Sole

Here is where things get a bit interesting.  The sole is firm but not super firm.  I would describe it as protective firm.  This comes from the 3D LiteStrike midsole, which I believe is still EVA (excited to see their TPU racer soon).  The outsole is full ground contact (except a pocket in the heel) and is fairly stable despite having a VERY narrow midfoot.  The additional stability comes from the PwrZone forefoot design with the pad under the first metatarsal.  I have discussed this previously (and will again in the Thoughts as a DPT section) but the first metatarsal is a very important part of the medial arch.  The cut out feels like it helps engage the muscles around the first toe and the arch, which may or may not help stabilize the foot. 


There is a very mild heel bevel and some toe spring but they are both on the minor side.  The forefoot has great flexibility and you will transition into toe off very well.  This is a shoe that should be comfortable landing in most places.  The 6mm drop is right in the middle for racing flats.  Not too low, but low enough to get on your toes.  I did not feel the heel getting in my way at all. The sole is simply yet effective.  There are no extra bells or whistles other than the PwrZone, so overall does a great job of getting out of the way to let you run fast.


Speed/Ride

Thanks to the somewhat firm sole, the ride has a good feel for a racing flat.  It isn't the most responsive shoe out there, but it does have some protection.  This is why this is the first shoe I would reach for for medium length workouts or shorter workouts where I want a bit more protection.  I used these for a long track workout and a tempo run and found them to work well for both.  There was plenty of speed to get me through those short intervals and enough protection from the road for the tempo run (along the roads of Griffith Park).


I personally have moved away from the super lightweight racing flats (4 to 5.5 oz) even for 5ks as they tend to beat up my legs too much.  I have had more success in midweight racers as not only are they fast, I can get back to training faster.  The Harmony Racer is definitely light at 6 oz but still has some protection from the midsole.  That protection works well for medium length workouts like tempo runs and the PwrZone works VERY well during high speed running.  I was impressed during strides and shorter intervals that this shoe moved so quick, but it will respond to whatever pace you push it.  Thus this shoe should work well for intervals and tempo runs as well as races up to the half marathon for most.  Some will be able to go up to the marathon if they are used to lightweight racing flats. 


Outsole/Durability

I only ran in this shoe for 10 miles, but the durability was impressive.  There is high abrasion rubber placed at the lateral heel and midfoot.  For those that land at the lateral forefoot, you may chew through this shoe, but I still did not see major wear.  This is a racing flat, so I would not expect hundreds of miles.  However I would expect at least 150-200 for me (and I wear shoes down very fast.  Working on that). 

Image from Wikipedia

Thoughts as a DPT

I appreciate Reebok taking an interesting approach to foot stability.  The first ray, 1st MTP joint and the muscles of the first toe are often overlooked by the running industry.  As I have discussed previously, the first MTP joint and first ray make up the distal aspect of the medial longitudinal arch.  Many powerful muscles either connect to or pass through this area, including the Flexor Hallucis Brevis (and longus), Fibularis Longus, Abductor Hallucis (this is SUPPOSED to be strong) and more.  Many of these assist with plantarflexing the first ray to assist with creating the arch and assisting the gastrocsoleus (calf) muscles in creating a powerful push off during terminal stance (toe-off).  That big toe and first MTP joint HAVE to be down on and pressing into the ground to create a stable forefoot and solid push-off.  This is a common issue and area of instability that is missed.  The inability to keep that first toe down means the front part of your arch is unstable and lifts.  Thus the medial arch may collapse or the other muscles (posterior tibialis, etc) may have to work harder to try to stabilize the arch.  This obviously works both ways (weakness in the back, compensation in the front), but this is where a great deal of forefoot stability (or instability comes from).  Having a company that takes this into account, much like my previous post on those that do forefoot stability (FOREFOOT ARCH SUPPORT), is refreshing.  Whether the PwrZone actually works is up for debate (as there are no released studies on this), but it definitely feels good and makes me feel like I am engaging the muscles of my foot more.  That however is only a testimonial, so you'll just have to try them for yourself. 


Conclusion

For those with narrow to medium width feet, looking for a fast but still slightly protective ride for the 5k to half marathon, definitely take a look at this shoe.  The Reebok Harmony Racer has made a quiet debut, but is well worth checking out.  The midfoot is a bit narrow, but the use of the PwrZone in the forefoot makes for an interesting ride.  If anything, hopefully this spurs some continued thinking into arch activation via the forefoot and other ways to stabilize the foot besides posting.  I look forward to future product from Reebok and am excited for them to make a big jump back into Specialty Running!

Thanks for reading!

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website 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.

Dr. Matthew Klein, PT, DPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Kaiser SoCal Manual Therapy and Sport Fellow
***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided a personal purchase and were bought for their full US retail price. .  We put at least 50-75 miles on trainers and 10-25 miles on racing flats prior to reviewing them. Currently I had 10 miles on my pair and had to send them back due to being careful financially at the moment. If sent to me in the future, I will put these through further testing and will report back. My views are based on my extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. 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.
Like and Follow Doctors of Running
Facebook: Doctors of Running  Twitter: @kleinruns
Instagram: @kleinrunsdpt Direct Contact: doctorsofrunning@gmail.com

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

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Nike Vaporfly 4% Review: Does it live up to the hype?

I know, you are probably thinking, "great, another VaporFly 4% review....we know it is the miracle shoe (Editor's Note: Spoiler Alert, it isn't - Dr. Klein).  You went out for your normal run, but miraculously ran 2 min/mile faster and you have never done that before!"  Also let me guess, your feet felt fresh and ready to tackle any length of run?  Well, that is what you will read and hear anecdotally from people. I for one am a little skeptical about a company making such grandiose claims.  Granted there is a lot of research behind this shoe, and evidence supporting that this shoe makes you run more efficient, faster, etc etc.   Matt and I try to do our best to provide a thorough evaluation of every running shoe that we review with a  bio-mechanical/scientific perspective.  So here is my review (with Matt's input) of the super hyped running shoe, the VaporFly 4%.

Specifications

Weight - 6.5oz size 10 (men's)
Heel to Toe Offset - 10mm
Midsole Material - ZoomX with full length carbon fiber plate
Category of Shoe - Long distance racing flat

Excellent shaped toe box for a racing flat.  Note the very minimal upper and non-existent heel counter.  You can't argue the looks of these shoes.

Upper and Fit

The first thing that jumps out at you is the design of the shoe.  Nike does a very consistent job of making shoes that look fast and ones that are fashionably acceptable for casual wear (well, if you are into that sort of thing).  The upper in general is minimal in deign and materials.  It is a one piece upper made up of an engineered mesh, an almost non-existent heel counter, and a more traditional lacing system (hooray no fly wire!).  The toe box is rather generous and the overall volume of the shoe is rather high, which came as a surprise for a shoe that is marketed as a racing flat.  This higher volume isn't necessarily a bad thing, but does allow a wider range of feet to work with this shoe.  For individuals like myself with narrow feet, you will have to really cinch down the laces.  The unfortunate side effect is a bunching of the upper (see pictures below) and pressure on the top of the foot proximal (closer to the ankle).  The heel hold is minimal, with a thin piece of material acting as a "heel counter-" if you have any extra mobility in the posterior foot you are forewarned.  Overall, the foot is held in place, but I imagine that normal width to higher volume feet having fewer to no issues with the lacing.  There really isn't any structure to this upper, just a paper thin engineered mesh holding the foot to the massive miracle ZoomX midsole.  I still would recommend going true to size, because going down a half size will place your toes rather close to the front of the shoe.  The tongue is not my favorite, as it is very thin and acts as a pressure point on top of the foot.  Overall, the upper isn't anything special and I would argue that the Nike Streak 6 has a much more comfortable upper and hold.

Despite a very minimal upper, the foot is held rather secure. You can some what appreciate how much I cranked the laces to make it snug though.  This higher volume is not the best for a narrow foot.  The leads to bunching of the upper and pressure on the top of the foot.  You can also appreciate the aggressive pointed heel flare.

Midsole


This is the part you have been waiting for in this review, "what do Matt and I think about this new midsole and carbon fiber plate?"  That's because the midsole with its ZoomX foam and full length embedded carbon fiber plate is what all the hype is about.  To be honest, I'm not a fan.  This shoe has some major flaws that I see as a potential issue for many runners (including elites).  Let's first discuss the last or shape of the shoe.  The heel has an exaggerated point with a marked curvature going straight back like a rudder on a boat.  This heel flare paired with an extremely narrow midfoot, curved shape, very high stack height, and extreme toe spring makes for one unstable shoe.  It would be like comparing a jeep to a corvette, where you have excellent cushioning but your center of gravity is way too high.   Just standing in the shoe I can appreciate my midfoot sagging over the medial aspect of the shoe (and I have a very narrow foot).  This sensation is amplified when running on anything other then a completely flat straight surface.  The whole foot collapses inwards and results in the upper digging into the top of my foot.  Unless you have perfect biomechanics (but honestly, what is the epitome of perfect biomechanics?), I don't see how this shoe could be comfortable in the long run.  My concerns are compounded with the pain and overall discomfort in my forefoot.  Speaking of the forefoot, this brings me to point number two of the midsole.  The shoe has absolutely no flexibility.  The VaporFly is a giant block of foam and is reminiscent of the earliest models from Hokka One One.  Yes, the midsole is responsive along with the embedded carbon plate.  But the problem is the forefoot is not allowed to flex normally at the metatarsals heads and locks your foot in a static position throughout the gait cycle.  These forefoot issues are compounded with the aggressive toe spring, which locks your foot in dorsiflexion (i.e. more pressure is placed on the metatarsals during the gait cycle).   Finally, the aggressive heel flare paired with a lack of any structure to the heel results in excessive motion in the posterior foot....an injury waiting to happen in those with extra mobility there.  I'll let Matt Klein address all of these stability aspects in the Biomechanics section of this review.

One can see the strategically placed rubber on the forefoot and heel area to help with durability.  Also, appreciate the narrowness of the midfoot.  Granted, most racing flats have a narrow midfoot.  But pair this narrowness with a really high stack height and it can lead to some problems.

Ride

The ZoomX is soft underfoot with a nice bounce.  It reminds me of Hokka's RMAT midsole material or if the Adidas Adizero Boston was two times softer.  All of this soft responsive foam is controlled with an embedded full length carbon plate.  This plate does add a sense of propulsion, but as mentioned before, causes a lot of irritation once you've run for several miles.  The ZoomX foam is responsive, but I don't feel it is anything revolutionary.  I feel that honor goes to Adidas' Boost, despite other companies jumping on the bandwagon - Saucony's EVERUN, Brooks DNA AMP, Reebok's FloatRide, and now Nike's ZoomX and React foam.

Thoughts as a DPT:  While I am impressed with the marketing campaign behind the Vaporfly 4% (that's basically what the sub 2 hour attempt from Nike was.  A marketing ploy.  Still an awesome thing to broadcast.  Definitely enjoyed it), there are many biomechanical issues that I have.  Like Dr. Kollias mentioned previously, there is little to no flexibility allowed in the forefoot for the metatarsals.  This is a big problem, because extension of the MTP joints (metatarsophalangeal joints) is an essential component of the terminal stance or PROPULSION phase of gait.  Loss of this is classic with individuals with hallux rigidis, as it is most commonly seen in the first toe (hallux).  The inability to properly progress over the forefoot can cause hyperextension of the knees, calf issues, hip flexor tightness/compensation (early hip flexion to compensate for the inability to get into full hip extension).  Nike has attempted to compensate for this with a great deal of toe spring, but that only goes so far.  This is anecdotal, but I have had several running patients of mine present to me with a variety of lower extremity issues after running in these shoes.  Cessation of running in these cleared up a great deal of their problems, but a few were able to compensate with extensive work on their ankle mobility into dorsiflexion.  Ankle dorsiflexion and MTP extension are both very important for forward progression during the propulsive and end stage stance phases of gait.  Take away one (MTP extension) and you need to make sure you have enough of the other.  So we have been able to compensate somewhat for this, but it would be FAR better if there was some kind of flex groove at the MTP joints to allow for normal biomechanical movement at the forefoot.  Limiting this is a great way to cause issues at the MTPs or higher up the chain.  This is NOT to say that everyone will have problems.  Only that some people might.  

To address the second point Dr. Kollias raised, the rearfoot does have quite a bit of posterior heel flare.  While there is an extensive heel bevel, it is centered, which is not where most people land IF they land at the rearfoot (posterior lateral landings are more normal).  While it is biomechanically appropriate, aerodynamically having the bevel centered like that does make sense to decrease drag.  Although I do not have any data so show that there is enough wind force that decreasing drag is necessary (I did not do the biomechanical tests for Nike on this shoe, so I do not know).  So those with extensive rearfoot landings may feel a bit unstable or jarring landings in this shoe, which can be rectified by trying to land a little more anterior (but this does require changing your form.  DO NOT make major form changes.  These should occur very gradually and carefully to avoid shocking the body with anything too new.  Like any new exercise, it should be incorporated slowly).  

Durability

I would expect a normal amount of miles (400-500 miles is normal for me) in a shoe with this much midsole foam and the carbon fiber plate.  I have been reading online that people are getting normal wear and not less than 100 miles that was initially reported.  The strategically placed outsole rubber will help with wear in the traditional quicker wearing spots (lateral heel and forefoot).  The ZoomX foam is new, so time will tell how durable it really is.

Very nice looking shoe.  Some of that toe spring can be appreciated here.  The white foam with the creases is the ZoomX foam and that is how it normally appears.  Also this is the true shape of this shoe as it has zero flexibility.  Then again, this should make it rather durable with that nearly indestructible carbon fiber plate embedded in the ZoomX foam.

Rooms for Improvement

I think that Nike should get rid of the ridiculous heel flare and shorten the carbon plate so that it stops behind the metatarsal heads.  I also think that lowering the overall stack height of the midsole will aid in increasing flexibility and making it an overall better long distance racing flat.  Also, $250 dollars for a shoe?  Really? (I know I fell for the hype, and here we are with this review.  Then again, I am a shoe Geek.)

Conclusion

This review was probably much different then most other reviews published online.  I feel that it is an interesting shoe, but there are many aspects that could be adjusted to make a more balanced shoe.  The bizarre appearance adds an inherent instability to the shoe, which makes it a potential hazard for your biomechanics or will require an adjustment period.  I think that for some people it will work amazing, while others will share my experience.  But do not worry, there are plenty of other long distance racing flats available that in my opinion are superior in design and function.  I know that people will argue that so many elites are winning with this shoe.  Well yes that is a true point, but I would like to point out that the fastest marathon time was run in the Adidas Adios 2, and that the elites that have won in these shoes have faster times or equivalent times in other racing flats.  That is all I have for this shoe.  Thank you again for reading and send us your thoughts on the VaporFly 4%.

Thanks for reading!

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to Dr. Klein, Dr. Kollias or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website 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, Dr. Klein is currently taking clients for running evaluations.

Dr. Nathaniel Kollias DVM MPH
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Cornell University Lab Animal Resident

Dr. Matthew Klein PT DPT 
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Kaiser SoCal Manual Therapy and Sport Fellow

***Disclaimer: These shoes were a personal purchase.  We put at least 50-75 miles on trainers and 25 miles on racing flats prior to reviewing them. Currently Dr. Kollias has 30 miles on his pair in a variety of conditions. 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.

Like and Follow Doctors of Running
Facebook: Doctors of Running  Twitter: @kleinruns
Instagram: @kleinrunsdpt Direct Contact: doctorsofrunning@gmail.com

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