At the Intersection of Technology and the Body

Nike Free 5.0

by Nike

Nike

Nike Free 5.0
Tech: Shoes emulate barefoot running
Cost: $95
Does it work? Surprisingly, yes

O, the irony. Researchers at Nike have found a way to improve your running speed. The catch? You have to train in bare feet. The idea is that barefoot running strengthens feet that have been coddled, pampered, and isolated from their traditional contact with the ground. That won't sell a lot of shoes, though, so the company came up with the Free 5.0, which provides all the benefits of being barefoot without the distracting shards of broken glass.

The Free 5.0 consists of an extremely flexible outsole cut into rectangular lugs that mimics the malleability of your foot, and a mesh upper that keeps the outsole from falling off. Train in them a few times a week for as little as 30 minutes, and, the
theory goes, more fit feet will make you faster.

My first week in the shoes was painful, as weak foot muscles protested their new regimen. But after a few runs, I could actually feel them strengthening, and within a couple weeks, my times were faster. Even better, my foot strikes and pushoffs felt more powerful and confident on rough trails. What's next,
staying warm by sitting in the fridge naked?