A few years ago, minimalist running shoes were all the rage. These shoes were light, barely there, and meant to provide a more natural gait and increased contact with the ground. Makes sense right?
Many injured tendons later, it turns out that minimalist running is not all it’s cracked up to be.
An article on Real Simple discusses the pitfalls of minimalist shoes. In the article, Nadya Swedan, a New York physiatrist says,? “very few people have a perfect running gait…Minimalist shoes don’t have the support to compensate for these problems, so using them may lead to injuries, such as plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis.”
Now, the trend has veered in the other direction, with many athletes opting for maximalist shoes instead. These (albeit silly looking) shoes are chunkier, with double the padding of regular runners.
A recent article in the New York Times focuses on Leo Manzano, and how the 1,500 meter Olympic medalist saw his plantar fasciitis disappear after just one week of using the shoes. Since then, he’s been hooked.
“They’re not your normal shoe, but I actually think they’re better than normal,” says Manzano in the article.
Needless to say, the shift from minimalist to maximalist just highlights the temperamental nature of the running apparel market. It’s constantly evolving and totally at the mercy of new technology, which is actually a key factor driving market growth at a CAGR of 6.28% from 2015-2019.
Advances in Tech and an Emphasis on Sustainability Will be Two Key Trends to Watch in Running Gear
Consumers are growing more eco-conscious by the day and are demanding sustainable products. As a result, organic cotton, recycled rubber and plastic materials, and water-based adhesives are replacing traditional leather, synthetic rubber, nylon, polyurethane, and other synthetic materials in the manufacturing of sports apparel and footwear.
For example, Adidas has developed a strategy that aims to reduce the environmental effects of their products by 15% by the end of 2015. The company plans to cover the entire value chain, from product development to sales. Similarly, Nike has developed a shoe recycling program, which aims to reduce carbon footprint (pun intended?). The company also developed the Making app in 2014 that helps manufacturers monitor environmental concerns about products, select eco-friendly materials, and produce more sustainable products.
While vendors in the market are seeking more responsible ways to make and manufacture their products, they’re also fighting tooth and nail to be the first to incorporate advanced technology.
Under Armour, for instance, is designing apparel?with compression technology, which helps regulate body temperature, and enhances comfort level during workouts or races.
On the footwear side of things, developments like Flyknit shoe technology from Nike are helping to create lighter weight products.
Innovations like this by key market vendors will continue to be the cornerstone of advancements in sports shoes and apparel over the next four years.