Cool sneaker tech from the ’80s is now real, thanks to Nike, plus more innovative shoe trends you won't believe actually exist
Where will you be on October 21, 2015? If you geek out over '80s movies, you'll be breathlessly waiting for Marty McFly to make his arrival via flying Delorean, a la Back to the Future II. (FYI: Not a documentary.) But if you geek out over '80s movies and fashion, you'll be first in line to buy a pair of self-lacing sneaks—just like the "futuristic" high-tops that Michael J. Fox sports in the movie. Nike just announced they have patented an automatic lacing technology and will be selling the shoes this fall. (Hey Nike, can you do hoverboards next?)
But while self-tying shoes are just now becoming a reality, athletic shoe companies have been adding futuristic features for decades now. Here's a round up of our favorite wearable tech...for our feet.
"Just a minute guys, I gotta pump up my shoes." So began many a playground conversation in the late '80s as kids everywhere leaned down to customize the fit of their Reebok Pumps by "pumping" air into little pockets inside the high-tops. We're still not sure whether we thought it would actually make us jump like the pro 'ballers or whether we were just worried our shoes would deflate if we didn't pump them every ten minutes, but they sure looked rad!
Thanks to this cross between running shoes and running blades, now you can be your own Blade Runner. The "individually tuned energy blades" in Adidas' Springblades are said to make you run faster by acting as mini-catapults to increase your forward momentum. (Run Faster, Longer, Stronger, and Injury-Free with these expert tips.)
Jumping jacks, box jumps and other plyometric exercises are a great workout. Not only do you build strength, power, and cardiovascular stamina, but bouncing around is just plain fun! What isn't fun, however, is the toll it can take on your joints. Kangoo Jumps—and their crazier cousins Powerbock Blades—allow you to jump higher and farther while minimizing the impact on your body.
From counting calories and steps to charting workouts, Nike was the first company to integrate different aspects of modern fitness tech into one system. Nike Plus shoes have a special sensor in the left heel of the shoe that coordinates with a phone app, the Nike FuelBand, and a web app to help you make every step count. (Here, 3 Fitness Apps for the Busy Gym-Goer.)
For such a simple activity, running involves a lot of complicated motions: Do you overpronate or underpronate? Are you a mid-foot or heel striker? What kind of gait do you have? It's enough to make you feel like you need a science degree just to buy running shoes. This is why the people behind Newtons invented their scientist-designed sneaker to help you find your most natural way to run. The soles are designed to help you land mid-foot instead of coming down hard on your heel, the way you ran when you were a kid in bare feet. Fans say it actually helps prevent chronic running injuries.
There's nothing worse than settling into the perfect Down Dog, only to have your sweaty feet sliding out from under you. Whether you're doing yoga, martial arts, or dancing, sweaty slippage is one of the biggest downsides to sports done with naked feet. Plus, there are the painful callouses to deal with. Enter FootStickers: "shoes" made up of adhesive gel stickers that only cover certain portions of the foot, depending on what sport you are doing. They're the ultimate in bare minimalism. (Find out more about the Barefoot Running Basics and the Science Behind It.)
For everyone who has ever wished they had springs in their feet, the Nike Shox are a dream come true. The rubber columns, spaced along the midfoot and heel of the shoe, are said to absorb shock and help the wearer conserve energy. They may look a little strange, but they're a favorite of athletes in high impact and agility sports like soccer and kick-boxing.
Running during that time of the month can feel off—for many reasons. (Ever tried jogging with a surfboard-sized maxi pad tucked in your shorts? It takes chafing to a whole new level.) But according to scientists, part of the reason for that is that our feet change with the balance of our hormones. When estrogen is high, the arch of the foot drops. Asics women's Kayano shoes are now built with a "Space Trusstic System" that supposedly adjusts to your varying arch heights, keeping you injury-free on your runs no matter the time of the month. (Do Everything Better During Your Menstrual Cycle.)