Newton Running Shoes: Barefoot in the Park...Almost

James T. Murray

Newton running shoes are the bright alternative to running shoeless but with all the same benefits.

At first sight, Newton Running’s neon, lollipop-hued sneakers seem like the kind of shoe best suited for grabbing a post-workout latte. Turns out there’s more to them than meets the eye. The shoes are part of a movement toward a more natural form of running popularized by Christopher McDougall’s best seller Born to Run, which chronicled the barefoot 100-mile-plus runs of Mexico’s Tarahumara Indians—and resulted in thousands of amateur runners clad in foot gloves or no shoes at all. Consider Newton’s sneakers to be the sensible middle ground: They help runners achieve the barefoot stance—striking on the forefoot instead of the heel—while protecting the soles from manmade surfaces like gravel and cement. “We have a lot of customers who went barefoot and then realized they needed protection,” says Danny Abshire, cofounder of Newton. After 15 years of working with injured Olympic athletes, Abshire set out to create a running shoe without the high heel found in most styles on the market. With nine patents that incorporate Sir Isaac Newton’s laws of motion, the company’s eight models (first-timers are encouraged to start with the Sir Isaac guidance trainers) not only promote a natural forefoot strike but are also shock-absorbent and help conserve energy, shaving a minute off every mile on average. From $140;

Running Barefoot: The Anatomy of a Trend

November 2004: Harvard scientist Daniel E. Lieberman publishes a study supporting the theory that evolution has equipped the human body for endurance running.

May 2009: Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run (Knopf) is released. It highlights the Tarahumara tribe’s ability to easily run hundreds of miles barefoot—and enjoy it.

Fall 2009: The New York Times publishes a series of articles, including one on the trend of foot gloves like Vibram FiveFingers; the barefoot phenomenon reaches fever pitch.

December 2010: Newton Running cofounder Danny Abshire releases Natural Running (Velo Press), which features an eight-week plan that helps runners go from an injury-prone heel strike to a natural forefoot strike.