We are sure you have all heard about the new runner in Nike’s collection creating a worldwide debate through the running community… the Nike Vaporfly!
This new runner has been designed to cut down running times of athletes and create new PB’s, all whilst saving energy for the athlete. How are they doing this?! Well here’s the technology behind this famous shoe…
Generally, a running shoe is made up of three main layers.
Layer 1: The upper- this is the material part of the shoe. This is where you will find the laces. The upper helps to hold your foot inside the shoe, whilst protecting it from the elements (water, dirt, rocks, etc).
Layer 2: The midsole- the main goal of this layer is to provide cushioning and stability for the foot. The midsole is generally comprised of soft foams that aid shock absorption and also firmer foams for the structure to support your foot posture. This layer is between the upper and the outer sole.
Layer 3: The outer sole- the last layer. This is the layer that will make contact with the ground, therefore it is designed for good traction and durability. This is usually made of rubber, or materials similar.
Now let’s look at how Nike has revolutionized these 3 basic layers in the new Vaporfly.
The Upper of the Nike Vaporfly is made of their new VaporWeave material. This material is extremely lightweight, breathable, and strong. It’s water-resistant, giving the athlete sufficient protection from the outdoor elements, all whilst holding your foot in tightly.
The midsole is where the magic happens! The Vaporfly midsole has been created with a Prebax foam, that Nike has called their ‘Nike ZoomX Foam’. This particular material is very soft, providing great cushioning and spring for the runner. The foam has been shown to absorb energy on the heel strike and reduce pressure at the big toe joint to help with propulsion. The use of this extreme cushioning helps an athlete to run with a straighter leg, and therefore reduce the effort needed by the muscles in the lower leg. By using such a ‘springy’ light material, this will help save energy for the athlete.
Nike has also integrated a carbon fibre plate into the midsole. This plate runs through the entire length of the shoe. The idea behind this is to control the structure and aid biomechanics of the foot. By having this firm plate within the midsole, toes become straighter and the ankle joint motion is reduced, meaning the entire foot becomes more stable and our toe and calf muscles are under less tension and stress.
The combination of these two materials have achieved a ‘spring’ or ‘trampoline-like’ feeling for the athlete, and have successfully been shown to reduce energy expenditure during running.
The Outer Sole, the final piece of the Vaporfly puzzle. The outer sole of this runner has been made from a thicker rubber, predominantly under the forefoot and heel. The tread and grooves are much deeper than those you would see on other running shoes. This allows for greater traction with the ground, increased durability, and also allows water to feed through easily. It has been designed with all different surfaces and/or ground conditions in mind.
Overall, these revolutionary running shoes have been shown to be a success to reduce energy usage for athletes during running, allowing significant room for improvement in lowering race and record times. The structure and cushioning within this shoe also reduces some of the stress and strain through muscles of the leg and foot, potentially helping in reducing muscle recovery time post-run!
Well Nike, what can we say…. you’ve done it again