About this project
Hi firstly I would like to share a little bit about me , I have run pretty much all my life , since eleven years old . At times I ran competitively , had quite a few injuries , as I was getting older , I started to ease off on running , why my legs could not take it anymore , training every second day , every third . Now I am back to running every day , with such ease , I love it … it’s not just good for running but walking too , and I did it myself here is how . I came up with an insert , what I call an inner , from a foam I made myself , yes I do make it , I do have a degree in applied chemistry , not sure how much that helped , I think just wanting to keep running did more .
To start off a little bit of what this inner is like to run on . Well nothing like what I have run on before , not in a shoe anyway . It is not just a small difference , no , the difference is large , it is significant , it is noticeable …. I will explain. Running on the inner , how it feels to run on …. first of all , it feels very gentle , very comfortable as a foot hits the ground , can’t think of the right word , low impact may be a better term . The absorption of the impact of the foot hitting the ground can be felt . The inner cushions but holds , it does not recoil straight away . The pad of the foot starts to compress the inner, the part just behind the toes , pushes in , then the toes roll over the inner , compressing it as well , by now the part behind the toes what I called the pad is now starting to be pushed off , as the pressure is released from this area , and as the leg straightens the extra push from the inner can be felt ,as the toes release they give that last extra spring to the leg , and high knee lift to the other leg , and so the motion continues. It is good on the flat , good up hills , and amazing downhill .
I did a video a while back , the quality is not great , but what is really good about it is , I did it while I was running but I had my inner in the right shoe , and a different one in my left shoe, the best other low impact inner I could find( an inner designed for netball ) in my left shoe , and the difference can be heard , If a close watch is kept the greater spring off the right leg can also be seen . Note it is in slow motion also it is possible to tell even when I run out of sight , which foot I am landing on , due to the difference in loudness of the foot impact . The right foot is quieter than the left , watch closely but better still listen closely to the difference ..
Just to make it a little easier to see the difference in the stride produced from my inner compared to the netball inner , I did some screen caps and pasted them together .
In fact when running with only one of my inners , in one shoe and an other type in the other , from my experience it was quite difficult to run far , ( the most I think I managed was about 600 m ) , as the leg that had the other type of inner in it , had trouble keeping up with the spring generated from the other leg ( my inner in the shoe ) , and the shock from the impact , from the leg with the other inner in it , was also quite difficult to cope with . Note until I had something to differentiate this impact against , I did not realise it was there , nor did I realise the discomfort and damage I now believe it was doing .
When I first came up with it , I thought that it would be unstable , good to run on but unsuitable for maneuvering , due to it’s thickness .I was wrong , on a flat surface such as bitumen ,( used on roads or tennis courts ) , concrete ( used on footpaths ) , or even a timber floor ( used on basketball courts , etc ) , It actually improved my maneuverability. As force is applied sideways , the inner actually creates a camber , this seems to reduce gradually the momentum in the direction of travel , and then propels in the new direction of travel wanted , all done with less force through the leg. Following are two short videos showing that the inners not only work well in a straight line , but also help to give excellent change of direction and sideways motion. I am on a bitumen tennis court with my inners in both my shoes. Not sure if it is visible but I could certainly feel an increased ease in maneuverability around the tennis court . After the tennis videos I have added an other short video , trying to explain the different forces I could feel in my joints , when pushing sideways .
Tennis video one ( 5 sec long ) , watch how easy it is for me to change direction
Tennis video two ( 4 sec long ) , watch my quick short side steps then the easy stop .
A brief explanation , of the different forces I could feel through my legs when pushing sideways . I had a net ball inner in my right shoe and my inner in my left shoe . ( 52 sec long )
I thought I would add some footage of me jogging while I have a video camera in my hand ( sorry about the movement of the camera ) , so as it is possible to hear comments I am making as I run along . I did this with three different scenarios , running with one of my inners in one shoe , and a netball inner in the other . My inners in both my shoes and netball inners in both shoes . I guess what I am trying to do is not only share my experience with you but also try to get across as best I can what it is like to run with my inners in .Please note that the netball inners I am using in my shoes in the videos below , were brand new straight out of the packet , whereas my inners had already out lasted four pairs of shoes , they have previously been used in.
First video running with one of my inners in my right shoe , and a netball inner in the left . 1 min 48 sec long)
The next video is me running with my inners in both shoes .
( 1 min 39 sec long )
The next video is me running with netball inners in both shoes .
( 1 min 44 sec long )
I went for my usual morning run and then after that I decided to do some time trials . Comparing my times running with both my inners in my shoes to both netball inners in my shoes .( once again the netball inners I am using straight out of the packet , my inners , already outlasted four pairs of shoes they have been used in . I was trying to be fair to the netball inners so I ran on them first . The runs below are sequential , ie one was run first then two , and ten run last . I had a short rest between runs one to six , about 5 minutes a short walk and time to change the inners over . There was about a 45 minute break between run six and run seven , with the same rest as above between runs seven to ten . I decided to do it on the same day so as the results are relative to one an other , If I for example did a long run on different days , even running with the same conditions my times can vary enough so as really the times would not be able to be validly compared , whereas on the same day I believe my times are highly comparable . I ran at three levels of effort , slow / medium pace then a medium fast pace the final times being fast to flat out pace . Done in this order because I figured if I ran fast to flat out at the start , I would be to tired to judge the speed of the other paces. Incidentally I have run most of my life and am quite reasonable at judging my running pace , which is more to do with the effort used than the actual speed .
Order of run Running Pace Inner used Time
one slow / mod netball 63 sec
two slow / mod mine 59 sec
three mod / fast netball 54 sec
four mod / fast mine 52 sec
five fast / flat out netball 52 sec
six fast / flat out mine 52 sec
Point to note , I was surprised that the times I achieved when using my inners were the same when I was running mod / fast and fast / flat out , I put this down to since I had already done my usual morning run before this , after the first, fast / flat out run in the net ball inners , I was tired .
To check this out after a rest of about 45 mins I decided to run fast / flat out again in my inners ,to see if I could run faster ( I didn’t ) and after seeing the time of this , do a few more trials .
Order of run Running Pace Inner used Time
seven fast / flat out mine 55 sec
eight fast / flat out net ball 61 sec
nine fast / flat out mine 55 sec
ten fast / flat out net ball 60 sec
As can be seen, my times were slower in all cases , I guess my legs were more tired than I thought . But what is interesting , although my fast / flat out time in six was probably a bit slow , the difference between this second lot of runs , when I was obviously still tired , there was only a 3 sec difference between my previous fast / flat out time , and this time when I had my inners in my shoes . Whereas when I had the netball inners in my shoes , there is an eight second difference between the previous fast / flat out , time and this second time . This seems to show something I have noticed when using my inners , they help a lot when my legs are tired ( the time differences in the second lot of trials also shows this } . Also please note this is not the first time I have tested the times running at various paces and at all times using the same shoe as a comparison , for the same amount of effort , or more correctly trying to go the same pace , my inners have always been quicker , as long as I am at the same level of tiredness.
Just a little bit to show this , when I was younger , ( eleven to be precise ) and I lived in Manchester, England ( I now live in Australia ) , I found a few old newspaper clippings from the Manchester evening news , I think we got such a big write up because I have a twin brother called Roger , and we quite often would come first and second .
And just one other little thing about running , my twin brother Roger , although I was a better long distance runner than him , he was always a better sprinter , in fact even recently still wins silver or bronze , for jumping up , running and picking up a flag placed at a distance , in the masters for state and national surf club carnivals . And guess what he was named Roger after Roger Bannister , the first person to break the four minute mile , and I was named Emil , after Emil Zatopec , a famous long distance runner in the 50’s Olympics .As you can see running runs in my and my families blood . I am just so happy I can still run , virtually every day with more joy from running than I thought possible . I guess if there is one wish , I do wish I had had them when I was younger , not only for the comfort and enjoyment , but I use to think running particularly competitive running was a dangerous sport , I had quite a few injuries back when I use to compete ( and I am not sure if you ever get completely recover from the wear and tear ( I competed at an A grade level , when I was in my twenties ) , I think I would have had a lot less injuries had I come up with them back then .
Some technical information , and principals behind how my inner works .
( don’t worry if you are not that technical , I will give a summary at the end of this . There is just more detail here for those who wish to read it ).
Firstly , it is quite thick ( about 1.5 cm ) , the reason behind this is to reduce the force from impact , the force is less if it is reduced over a greater time period , ( this is why they use air bags in a car ) . The thicker the inner is the longer it has to absorb the impact of the foot hitting the ground , hence less force on the leg . From testing there does become a point where if it is made thicker still , it becomes unwieldy , so I made it as thick as I could below this point . It is a pure rule of Physics it takes time to lessen an impact , for this reason alone if the cushioning is thin no matter how it cushions , it has less time ,to cushion, therefore there is greater deceleration , therefore greater force , therefore greater impact than a cushioning material that is thick , there is just not enough time, to absorb the impact .
- There is an engineering principle called buckling or slenderness ratio . It is to do with the type of material but the length to width ratio , generally has a greater effect .
Stating it in an easier manner something long and skinny will bend or buckle easily , whereas something short and thick is difficult to bend
Take for example a tree the trunk which is generally thick and stocky , compared to a branch , which can be long and thin . The long thin branch can bend easily , whereas the trunk is quite rigid . Usually engineers stay away from buckling , but occasionally , it can have some advantages .For example I read that low pressure point beds used in hospitals can use this principle . If a greater force than than would be comfortable ,is applied , that part of the support could just buckle out of the way , leaving the rest of the bed to to spread the load .
Why have I mentioned this because I believe my inner is doing this , and more than that I believe it is an important and necessary feature .As the force of impact of a foot is applied to the inner , once this force is over a certain amount it will start to buckle , this creates the ” hold ” part of the movement . I am sure you can imagine , what it would be like if you were trying to run on springs , and I am sure people have tried . It will absorb the load by compressing the spring , but the problem ( apart from stability ) is , it will instantly be applying an equal and opposite force , and as soon as the force applied to the spring is no longer strong enough to compress it , it will try to recoil , creating a cushioned but very ungainly and awkward surface to run on . Due to the buckling effect I believe my inner undergoes when a large force is applied , it it holds the force , waiting until some of the pressure is released , before giving the energy back .
Why does this occur , I believe it is from the size of the holes in the foam , which I make by a simple but I believe novel process .They are large and spherical .( I did try the same material with small holes , it did not work ) . By being large it means they will have a thinner wall thickness to length ,( than if the holes were smaller ) , and as I said I believe this causes buckling which in turn causes the hold , making the inner not only absorb the impact , but feeling really good to run on , and then giving the force back , once the load, is started to be removed. (When the foot is ready and just starting to leave the ground ).
Absorb the energy …….. Hold …….Release the energy
I talked about maneuverability earlier on , and even showed in my tennis video that I was quite maneuverable in my inners , probably a lot more so than without them . So I just wanted to add a little more on why I think this is so . When a force is applied downwards ( the weight of a person ) , and sideways ( change of direction ) , the inner starts to build up against the shoe , this slowly absorbs the force of the change of direction , holds , then pushes back in the new direction desired .
There is even a little bit more , my inner even seems to make side stepping easier . As I side step , even with my foot flat , the downward impact , when released generates an upward force , giving me a little more spring to my step , with less effort .
- Last but not least …
Loading the force …..
As my Kickstarter page gets nearer completion ,and as I go for my daily run I have really been trying to feel how my inner , responds . I have noticed three major new things on how my inner works . Firstly since my inner is made up of hundreds of , elastic spheres , able to work independently but also as a team( in synchronisation ) , it does not really matter how you run or walk for that matter , they work in every direction , no matter how the foot lands . ( They have to obey Newton’s laws of motion , in particular the third law ,Formally stated, Newton’s third law is: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction .) If my heel hits , as it applies a force downwards to my inner , there is an equal and opposite reaction from my inner which absorbs the force , the lucky thing is my inner can store this force , then as my heel lifts my inner is now applying this force in the opposite direction my heel is now being pushed up . It does not seem to matter what part of the foot hits first , this law applies , but more importantly it does not seem to matter which part of the foot hits first , the action feels very fluid , very comfortable , very natural , and very helpful .
Next I noticed some thing , that had been there but I had not quite pin pointed it . How the load is applied , and I am starting to think this is very important . To move forward there has to be a force pushing backwards ( equal and opposite reaction again ) , but because of the elasticity of my inner , it’s durability and that my inner is quite thick , two things occur , the load can be applied over an extended period , sort of like a bow string being pulled back slowly and steadily to fire an arrow . Secondly because of the thickness , there is a shear force created between the contact surface of my inner on the shoe , and the contact surface of my inner on the bottom of my foot . In short as my foot pulls back , my inner distorts , it elongates storing the energy , and as this force is removed , it starts to reverse the load and pushes the foot and me forward .
This feeling not only feels very comfortable , but I believe is quite significant and helps makes my running and walking easier , and more enjoyable actually a delight.
Thirdly and lastly I have already stated this but I believe it is important so I will state it again , also since I did notice this , this morning ( my legs were a bit tired ) . When muscles are tired , they are not as elastic , they are not as capable of absorbing an impact or transferring a load ,as efficiently as if they were fresh. My inner , I realised does not get tired , it does not get stiff , it is always elastic , it made no difference I was tired , it is always capable of absorbing and transferring loads , just the same as it always does , and I think that is what I have noticed the most , it feels great when , I am fresh , but when I am a bit tired, it is always there to absorb the impact , then transfer that load and give that bounce or spring to my stride , that my legs are just that little bit too tired to do on there own ,
I was just redoing the background for the first picture and noticed that reactive force , that I talk about later on shows up , what I called the elastic shear force , the foot pushing back and loading the inner , then it reacting and pushing forward. I added some lines so as it is possible to see the different trajectory between the leg with my inner in the shoe ( right shoe ) , and the leg with the netball inner in the shoe ( left leg ) . I also added some points , so as the length of the stride can be determined at least relative to each other .The camera was still , so my footfall will be accurately positioned , noting the stride will appear to get less as I move away from the camera , but a difference can still be seen .A little bit like a picture earlier on but this time I am accurately positioned .
So as I said ,
My inner is thick , because this is better at absorbing impact , and returning the energy .
My inner has hundreds of , thin walled highly elastic resilient spheres ,these absorb the impact ,hold and then release as the foot leaves the ground .
My inner , forms a sort of camber as a sideways force is applied , helps with maneuverability .
It does not matter , how I run , how my foot hits the ground , it absorbs , holds and transfers the energy back.
My inner does not get tired it is always there to help .
And most importantly , it works really well and feels amazing to run in .
while I was taking some of the photos for this page , I noticed an other unusual characteristic of my foam , when I pushed my fingers into it , it just went around them , I thought this was unusual , so I tried doing the same to other types of foam , and noticed they indent quite a distance away from the load . Pictures showing this effect below .
When I thought about why it did this and was it useful , I realised this is probably part of what creates the sensation , I described in my opening paragraph . That a gradual flow of my foot leaving the ground , with my toes being the last , and giving the final extra thrust forward . That each of the hundreds of highly elastic resilient spheres that are part of the foam , seem to be able to respond to a large extent , as individual particles , sort of like there is hundreds of tiny springs able to react in any direction , incorporated into the foam , sitting under the foot , with only minor interaction between them . So enabling it to respond in absorption and release of the applied load in a very efficient and effect manner . This I would believe comes from the strong and long lasting material I have made the foam from , it’s great ability to stretch and return to it’s normal shape ( hundreds of percent ) , I also believe the long thin walls of the spheres aid in this significant and useful effect . As with most things it is not only the material that is important , but how it is put together , as to if it is useful to perform it’s required task , they both need to be correct .
Other uses , as mentioned earlier my foam can be used as an inner for a shoe , or work boot , or just as a heel insert into a shoe . These can all be done with excellent results but different densities of my foam need to be used .
The differences ….
The foam used to make my inner for running is about three times more dense than the inner made for walking . The inner for running has to absorb and release far more impact ( forces ) than when just walking this means it needs to be stronger . My running inner can be walked on , in fact it is possible to really feel how it works , but a foam of less density does feel better for walking on . It does not need to be as tough , or as firm as the foam used for running , they have different requirements . The foam used for running because of it’s high density and strength is very resilient . Even over extend periods of time it only alters very slightly , hardly noticeable . I am not sure how long it will last , because I have not worn one out , and I have been using the same inner ( running nearly every day ), in four pairs of good quality runners , that have worn out . If my inner does wear out , I estimate it should last between 3 to 10 years ,I should imagine , it would depend on the number of miles ran . As I said they are very resilient and so far I have not been able to make it fail . I would be very surprised if they did not at least out last a few pair of running shoes , because mine have .
Heel insert …. As John a friend who gives comments latter , used a small section of my foam under the heel , it made a big difference to one of his friends with chronic knee problems . It is possible , to use just a small section under the heel .
I also sometimes wear a heel insert , under my shoe inner . This will be supplied , along with my shoe inner , and you can choose whether to use this or not . My shoe inner works fine without it ( in fact recently that is how I have been using it ) , it just gives extra support under the heel , and gives you the option of whether you want to use it or not ..
How long do they last ….
How long do they last , running one not sure if it really deteriorates much at all , but estimate 3 to 10 years , I guess a better estimate would be governed by the mileage covered . I am still using the same inner , that has been through four pair of good quality running shoes , and it is still going strong and performing well , it is the one I have been , using in all the videos and trials shown here , and the one I still run in virtually every day . The walking insert and heel insert are made of the same material , just less dense , they too seem to be extremely durable .
Not really , just a couple of things you need to be aware of . With the running inner , it works amazingly well on a hard surface , in fact a bitumen road is my preferred surface , grass can absorb quite a lot of the energy from the foot ( why people try to run on it ) , my inner absorbs a lot more than grass but gives back a lot more too ., that’s why I prefer bitumen , no problem with the impact ( my inner takes care of that ) and lots of energy back . But if the foot hits a divot , such as could be in a worn grass surface , it could extend the rollover and be a problem . So for this reason I not recommending them for grass , but for hard flat surfaces they are amazing .
Also due to the size of my inner approximately 1.5 cm thick , it is necessary to to wear shoes for running that are one to two sizes too big , simply so it can fit in . For walking I would also suggest to wear one size larger than normal .I am looking if successful at making a running shoe , that is deeper than normal , to accommodate this , so as an increased shoe size will not be necessary . If I do this and you have already got an inner , just pull it out of your existing runner and put it in this one . I have offered reward if you want to be part of helping me achieve this .
I would suggest to take the inner along and try it in the shoe or jogger you intend to buy , so as you get the correct fit , and combination ( just makes sense really ) . I also undo the first front two laces , not necessary , I have just got use to doing that for a while , and it just seems to feel better .
What shoes to run in , obviously a personal preference , but from what I have found , as light as possible , my inner will do all the cushioning , but this is not only for a weight aspect . From my experience others joggers I have used , seem to have less recoil than my inner , so I want as little of that sort of absorption as possible . Also I have found that for me I guess this will depend on foot shape , an instep in the shoe , seems to give a little forward propulsion , as the downward force of the foot ( through my inner ) seems to get partly converted into a forward motion , which not only feels good but does seem to make running easier .
Where the project stands
I have been running on the same inner now for a while (it has seen out many pairs of running shoes ). So I am happy with durability and functionality . For walking I have been walking using a heel insert for a while too , but have only recently been using a full walking inner in my shoe ( I decided to try a less dense mixture ) , and I am very impressed , in fact it is extremely comfortable .So I have no hesitation in recommending that too . I would like to make a running shoe that is deeper than those made now , if that does get made and you already have an inner , then it could be simply removed from what ever shoe it is in now and put into the new one . ( As I said I am still on the first inner I started using ,it is still going strong ). So where the project stands so far is , I have developed , and have working examples , of inserts into running shoes / shoes , that aide in comfort , performance and enjoyment , of running and walking .I have worked out and can obtain the materials required to make these products . The process basically requires mixing the raw materials , placing them into a mould and then some further basic but confidential treatment . For the limited quantities I have produced to date I have mixed the components by hand . The ingredients are quite thick and need a special mixer to mix them together . So I would use specialised mixer , if large quantities are required rather than mix it by hand . The rest of the process is straight forward . I think it can be seen from the videos and explanations of how the product functions , that it is simple , long lasting , and performs very well .
What other people have to say
What some other people think about the product ,( not many people have tried it , but here are some comments from the few who have .
A letter from a colleague of mine ( I have not known him for long but have had a lot to do with him in the time we have know each other ) , who I sent a sample of the foam I use in my inners , as he said he had a friend , who had severe knee pain and would like to see if it could he could help him , and simply putting small section under each heel , gave him significant relief .
The Next is an other friend who also has had quite an illustrious athletic career . He also is the only other person apart from me , I have given samples to , so as he can use them to run on .
The acknowledgement from Christophe ,
I competed professionally in martial arts and rowing for a decade, but I’ve always had a passion for running But after 40 years the knees aren’t like they used to be. A friend of mine, offered me a pair of inner soles that he had developed. At first I wasn’t sure what to expect, however I had to admit that they were very comfortable. After hearing all the hype about “bare foot running”, it sounded like “soft and cushy” wasn’t the right way to go. Typically, after a run, you’d find me icing my knees and i would definitely be feeling it for a day or two, but with the inners I have no pain in my knees. I’m not sure of the science behind foot ware, but now I run pain free, feeling like I’m running on cushions, running further than ever and enjoying my runs even more. That’s all I know.
Chris Mahe Canberra ACT.S
Risks and challenges
If successful, In May I will set up a special blog or web site so people can follow the progress of the project . I will order the raw ingredients and necessary equipment required . Make moulds . Start to make some of the initial orders for June delivery .
In June , continue to make the orders for June delivery , and post them out in June.
July – August , make orders for August delivery and post out in August .
September – October , make orders for October delivery and post out in October .