30 May Running Shoes 2.0 – Can Swiss Technology Make You Faster, Reduce Injuries?
by Larry Olmsted
…the Swiss inventor of “On” running shoes takes a totally different approach where he thinks more is more.
Imagine cutting a garden hose into two or three-inch sections, then gluing these tubes across the bottom of a conventional running shoe, perpendicular to the heel to toe orientation. What you would have would resemble a running shoe with springs – and this is exactly what On’s creator, Olivier Bernhard did, starting at home with garden hose.
Bernhard also happens to be a multiple Ironman champion and 8-time World Duathlon Champion, whose career was hampered by chronic inflammation of his Achilles tendon. He created Ons, which he likens to running on a cloud, to remedy this. “The soles in use at the time only offered cushioning for the vertical impact of the foot on the ground. But for me as a runner, that was never really right. If you’re running, you’re not just jumping up and down on the spot; you’re moving forward, too. In tennis you have the shale on the court to absorb this horizontal motion. So what we felt we needed for our new shoe was a cushioning system that absorbed both vertical and horizontal forces. At the same time, we wanted this cushioning to disappear by the time the runner pushed off again. As a runner, I don’t want a cushion to push off from: I want to feel the ground as much as I can, as if I was running barefoot.”
Partnering with two friends, he took the concept to an engineer at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and the garden hose idea was refined into the shoes that are now sold, the ones Ons says has been successfully used by Olympians, professional triathletes and world record holders (among other things they say the second place woman at the Kona Ironman and male winner of last year’s Dublin marathon raced in their shoes)… The On lineup includes four models, one for recreational running, one for trail running, one for performance training and one for racing, from $119-$139