How to think like a shoe company

Posted by | Posted in Barefoot Running Shoes, Running Sandals | Posted on 02-06-2012

You know the saying “when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”?

Well, it’s true for shoe companies, too. When all you have is padding and motion-control, everything looks like it pronates and lands too hard!

Check out this video about the “secret” Adidas development center. Especially watch at the 2:10 mark where the “best people in the world” analyze Ben’s sprinting gait and conclude:

a) That he pronates and heel-strikes (NOTE: He over pronates BECAUSE he heel-strikes since, when you land on your heel, the ankle muscles can’t can hold the foot/ankle/lower leg in place).

b) The solution: Making a shoe with padding and motion control!


First of all, if you heel strike when you sprint, you are not sprinting! Sprinters do not heel strike. And when you land on your forefoot or midfoot, the entire musculature of the lower leg, ankle, and foot, can be “pre-loaded” and engage when you land.

The cure for Ben is to STOP HEEL STRIKING, not get a shoe that lets him continue to run incorrectly. Duh.

My next comment falls into the “maybe it’s just me” category: Notice how large, spacious and expensive this place is. Ben mentions that Adidas does over a BILLION euros in sales.

Look, I’m the last guy to deny any company the right to make money, and I’d love to have a billion dollar company.

But am I the only one who sees a direct connection between a massive, pricey research lab and shoes that cost $150-200, and “hi-tech” shirts that cost $100+. This is like a thought I had at the Outdoor Retailer trade show, where some of the bigger companies have booths that easily cost over $1,000,000, “Oh, now I know why they charge so much for their products! They need to support the booth.”

Honestly, I find it unlikely that the “amazing” research they’re doing actually pays for itself. I think it makes them feel good about themselves, and makes naive reporters think, “Oh, wow, they’re doing something really special here.”

I don’t doubt for a second that they could drop the price of their shoes to something more reasonable, not waste money on “research” that’s iffy at best, and still make the same profit.

Again, maybe that’s just me.