THE STORY BEHIND THE NIKE FREE

BATD ON Apr 14, 2014 AT 9:47 am

by Annie Vischer.

Sean McDowell, Nike Creative Director of Running.

Sean McDowell, Nike Creative Director of Running.

Nike Creative Director of Running, Sean McDowell was recently in town to talk everything Nike Free. Here are five big facets of Nike and Nike Free trainers that you might not have known before.

1…Nike was founded by a runner Phil Knight and his trainer Bill Bowerman. Bowerman always said that ‘If you have a body you are an athlete’, that ‘Everything you need is already inside’ and that ‘Every athlete is as unique as a finger print’. Bowerman was a real leading authority on athletic footwear. He hated the footwear available in his day. He had his own at-home workshop where he cobbled together (literally) individual pairs of trainers for each of the guys he was coaching, making sure each pair met their own unique needs. 20% of our bones are in our feet as well as 52 ligaments and muscles. Bowerman both knew and respected such facts, and took care to treat the feet of his athletes accordingly. This is standard practice now, but only Bill Bowerman was doing it in the beginning.

2…The idea for the Nike Free began with the Nike Rift of the 90s. The idea for this came about when Nike team members visited the Rift Valley in Kenya in 1995. They saw athletes running barefoot, and discovered that they felt they had more push-off when their toes were free, especially their big toes. The infamous split-toe design of the Nike Rift freed up the big toe to give athletes more propulsion. They were more than just a fashion statement.

3…In 2001 a team from Nike visited renowned track coach Vin Lannana to watch him in action and watch his team train. As part of their training session, Vin’s team of athletes took off their trainers and took to the grass, running barefoot. The team were intrigued and asked Vin why he was getting his athletes to do that. Vin explained that he felt allowing them to run barefoot opened their feet up and strengthened them. The team were intrigued by his methods and researched it. When running in regular trainers the calcanius and metatarsal points come under a lot of pressure. Whilst running barefoot, this pressure is dispersed throughout the rest of the foot, meaning the body is under less strain.The team went away from this meeting with a challenge in mind, to create a trainer that comes as close to giving a barefoot running experience as possible.

4…By 2004 athletes were using their Nike Frees as one of their most trusted tools, to strengthen their feet. Mo Farah is one of the best known Nike athletes, whose Nike Frees work perfectly with his 9′ 9” stride. He trains on the Nike campus in America and he, as well as all the other Nike athletes, including the likes of Serena Williams, is daily inspiration to the creative team behind Nike who are constantly developing their products.

5…The Nike Free, whethether the 5.0, 4.0 or 3.0 model, is comprised of a sole that is both lightweight and sliced in sections to move with every movement of the foot. This means that it adapts to the natural movement of each individual athlete, and it is their natural motion that controls how the trainer moves. The new hexagonal shape of the sole grips mean that it can take pressure whichever way the trainer moves, whether the athlete is a forefoot strider, a mid foot strider, or a heel strider.

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