Insights & Articles
Global athletic leader New Balance is proud to announce a significant advancement in the use of 3D printing to customize high performance products for athletes. Utilizing a proprietary process, the brand is able to produce spike plates customized to the individual needs and desires of their elite athletes. At the New Balance Games in January 2013, Team New Balance athlete, Jack Bolas, became the first ever track athlete to compete in customized, 3D printed plates.
Often overlooked amid the whirlwind of conditioning workouts and training regimens that lead up to events, the gear athletes wear can provide as much of an advantage as anything else. Whether it's the fit of their shoes, a fast-drying fabric, or even just a material that wicks away a few more drops of sweat, anything that gives them an edge over the competition — no matter how slight — can have a genuine impact on the outcome of the race. This is especially true for track athletes, where first place and fourth are separated by a few meager hundredths of a second.
The New Balance Track and Field Center at the Armory in New York City was brimming with energy this past weekend as more than 4,000 of the nation's top high school track and field athletes filled the arena for the 2012 New Balance Nationals Indoor. As audience members packed the stands to watch the events, many more from around the world viewed the excitement from our live stream on Facebook. The three-day event concluded with numerous broken records and spectacular performances.
At the sold-out Reggie Lewis Center in Boston last Saturday, over 4,000 fans gathered for the 2012 New Balance Indoor Grand Prix. The evening's track and field events generated close finishes and broken records.
If the 2011 New Balance Indoor Nationals in March was defined by a series of dominant performances, then last weekend's 2011 Outdoor Nationals was defined by the rate at which national and meet records fell. Of course, that was bound to happen, with nearly 2800 of the top US high school track and field athletes descending upon the fast surface at Aggie Stadium on the North Carolina A&T University campus, many of them returning champions set on defending their titles against deep fields.
For three days, last weekend in New York City, we welcomed more than 3000 of the nation's top high school track and field athletes to The Armory as they competed for All-American honors (and t-shirts) at the 2011 New Balance Indoor Nationals. In front of a packed audience, both in the stands and to thousands of viewers around the world watching our live video stream on Facebook, these boys and girls gathered not only to race, jump, and throw against one another, but also to share a laugh at our Smilebooth and learn from top coaches at our on-site clinics.
After hundreds of years of walking with shoes on, is it time we relearn? There's a movement going on that challenges the very foundation of sneaker wearers (not to mention sneaker companies) everywhere, around running barefoot. This broad grouping of perspectives includes some runners who are finding they prefer to run exclusively barefoot, some who prefer to run with minimally cushioned shoes, and others who like to vary their runs between shod, minimally shod, and shoeless. Recently, runner and Harvard researcher Daniel Lieberman released a study in the journal Nature (subscription required) that ignited broad popular discussion on the topic. Lieberman's research explored the physics behind the various ways the foot comes into contact with a surface when in shoes and shoeless, and found that most shod runners favor a heel-first strike while shoeless runners tend to naturally strike forefoot- or in some cases midfoot-first.
At first glance, walking and running seem very similar. But when you look closely at the two activities and the demands they place on your feet and your footwear, the two are really quite different. Differences that affect the need for, and design of, two very different styles of shoes. But before we get to the shoes, let's take a look at walking and running and the body mechanics involved with each.
Trampas TenBroek spends his days contemplating, and calculating, the implications of millimeters. Here, in the New Balance Sports Research Lab, where a team with backgrounds in mechanical engineering, anatomy, biomechanics and physics is gleaning new sets of insights about the way in which we run, small measurements have enormous implications. In the development of NB Minimus, for which the 4mm heel-to-midfoot drop has been a source of significant discussion both inside and outside of New Balance, the work of the Sports Research Lab has been a study in both the way our bodies behave, and the ways in which our shoes change that behavior.