Physical Therapists Using Clinical Analysis To Discuss The Art And Science Behind Running and The Stuff We Put On Our Feet

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Often known for their legacy in track, especially thanks to eight time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt, Puma has a long and storied history in the running space. In this guide, we go over that history and explore their connections to the running world. We then take a spin through their current running shoe line. 


Guide to Puma Running Shoes
Written and Edited by Content Manager Bach Pham

About Puma



Brothers, divided. Puma was originally founded by brothers Rudolph and Adolf Dassler in 1924 as the Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory. Based in Herzogenaurach, Germany, the Dasslers immediately dove into the world of athletic footwear and set a path forward for a century of innovation in the space. Their initial designs quickly became staples of German athletes by the 1928 Olympics. The company made its most notable athlete pickup when they approached Jesse Owens prior to the 1936 Olympics and convinced him to use their track shoes. He went on to win four Gold medals that year, launching the brand's success worldwide.

Back at home in Germany, World War II and differing ideologies wound up dividing the brothers and souring their relationship. Post-World War II, the Dasslers decided to go their separate ways and form what would become two of the biggest shoe companies in the world; Adolf would transform the Dasser Brothers Shoe Factory into Adidas (based on his nickname "Adi") while Rudolph took a handful of employees to form "PUMA Schuhfabrik Rudolf Dassler." Both continue to be based in Herzogenaurach to this day.


Fun Fact: In 1968, Puma developed their signature logo of a Puma leaping
over the upper right side of the word logo.


Track Domination and Innovations.
Puma would continue to carry its track legacy in running through the decades with various Olympians shattering track records. In the Modern era, it's hard to not think of Usain Bolt's career-defining Beijing Olympic games where he shattered the 100m world record and began his takeover of the sport for years to come.

Puma has also been known for unique innovations over the years. In 1968 they innovated a brush spike that provided incredible track grip, but was banned when it's 68-spike design was deemed too dangerous. In 1958 they created FORMSTRIP which helps stabilize the interior of shoes, a technology still seen in Puma shoes today and other brands. In 1985, Puma released the world's first smart shoe, which amazingly was able to translate data from the shoe to computer.

A New Puma Generation in the Marathon Distance, and the Nitro Line.
Post Usain Bolt, Puma had a bit of a lag in the running space. This was changed with the emergence of their Nitro line in 2021 which reignited their running line with a new foam and design language.

With this new line also came a refocus on long distance athletes, with Molly Seidel being their most prominent athlete to date, taking an incredible Bronze medal home in the marathon distance for USA at the 2020 (2021) Tokyo Olympics. Molly is joined by Sara Vaughn, Dakota Lindwurm, and Annie Frisbee who have all had great domestic success in the half and marathon distances.


Technology to Know


Nitro Foam.
Nitro foam takes traditional EVA and injects it with nitrogen to give it a lighter, airy feel.

Puma Grip. Puma's signature outsole design which provides excellent grip to roads and some off terrains surfaces. It features a triangular, lug-like design to provide traction. We've seen it to be also fairly durable to boot.

PWR Tape. Introduced in soccer cleats, PWR Tape is built into the upper to provide structure to the upper, preventing it from moving or translating on the run.

Nitro Elite Foam. Puma's top-end foam, it features a nitrogen-infused PEBAX to help further lighten material. This foam is featured full-length in their Puma Deviate Elite Nitro racing shoe, and in the forefoot of the Deviate Nitro 2 and Puma Fast-R.


Breaking Down the Puma Running Line




Neutral Puma Running Shoes
Velocity Nitro 2 (daily trainer) - The Velocity features a stable, durable ride with some of the best grip in the daily training space.
Electrify Nitro (budget daily trainer) - Puma's budget training model. Features some Nitro foam and Puma Grip in a sub-$100 package.
Liberate Nitro 2 (lightweight daily trainer) - The Liberate offers one of the lightest training shoes in the market for shorter workouts and for those who prefer training more minimally.
Magnify 2 Nitro (maximum cushioned daily trainer) - The Magnify is Puma's higher stacked trainer meant for cushioned running.
Deviate Nitro 2 (performance trainer) - Featuring a milder carbon plate,the Deviate Nitro is the training companion to Puma's racing shoe, offering a snappy ride for workouts and daily training.
ForeverRun Nitro (daily trainer) - The ForeverRun features a highly stable forefoot design that provides a very cushioned ride.  
Run XX (daily trainer) - A women's specific daily trainer that is based on PUMA's internal research on gender-related foot shape and running biomechanics.

Puma Racing Shoes
Fast-FWD (short distance racing shoe) - A highly aggressive forefoot design combined with Nitro Elite foam and carbon plate for 5k or less racing.
Fast-R Nitro Elite (racing shoe) - Puma's 5k-marathon racing shoe, providing a very fast, technical design.
Deviate Nitro Elite 2 (racing shoe) - Puma's premier marathon shoe. Featuring a moderately high stack and traditional design that blends racing flats of old with modern technology.


The Fast-R's Unique Design
By David Salas


The Puma Fast-R has a unique geometry and construction. The first obvious thing is the decoupled midsole and exposed plate through the midfoot. The shoe is also using two different types of midsole foam in different regions of the shoe. The heel is a firmer EVA and the forefoot is a much softer and bouncier PEBA-based foam. Upon internal conversation with Puma, we discussed stability and some of things that were found with the Puma Fast-R specifically. Within their testing, Puma found that the speed of pronation and calcaneal eversion was slower in the Fast-R compared to other top-shelf competitors in the racing shoe category. They also found metabolically that running economy and other metrics were comparable. The decreased calcaneal eversion and pronation speed is interesting because this would mean the foot and ankle is not collapsing as quickly. Potentially this would decrease the rate of collapse and could give the runner and their intrinsic musculature more opportunities to resupinate at the toe-off phase of gait without excessive deviation. Only time will tell and more research needs to be done, but things are looking in a positive direction for this shoe build and potentially stability as the definition begins to be quantified more with research.


Our Puma Recommendations to Try


Best Entry into Puma: Velocity Nitro 2

(A solid everyday trainer that can go off-terrain easily thanks to Puma Grip)

Best Cushioned Trainer: Magnify Nitro 2

(One of the few mild-to-non-rockered max cushion shoes available)

Best Workout Trainer: Deviate Nitro 2
(A snappy, fun performance trainer that compliments their top shelf racers well and provides a well-cushioned choice for just about any training run)

Best 5k-Half Marathon: Puma Fast-R
(Puma's most technical design, offering a fast, light, bouncy racer that excels at 5k to half marathon)

Best Traditioanl 5k-Half Marathon: Puma Deviate Nitro Elite 2
(Featuring full-length nitrogen-infused PEBAX, the Elite 2 is an aggressive racer that can be used for fast races)


Have questions? Send us an email at doctorsofrunning@gmail.com

Thanks for reading!


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