Review of Newton’s Forefoot Strike Running Shoes

Newton has many forefoot strike running shoes that are becoming increasingly popular in the minimalist running community. For example, the Newton Neutral Racer Shoe is a huge hit among many forefoot runners because the shoe apparently aids in maintaining a forefoot strike landing during running. Interestingly, the same shoe was scientifically proven to improve running economy by positively effecting running form.

Review of Newton’s Forefoot Strike Running Shoes

How does a Newton running shoe enforce a forefoot strike landing during running?

Newton Running claims that the actuator lugs integrated into the forefoot design of their Neutral Racer shoe lowers peak impact, increases energy return, and thus may be essential to running economy.

Moreover, the Newton Running Company designs their running shoes to facilitate a forefoot strike landing pattern instead of a heel strike landing pattern. Scientists Moran and Geer put Newton and their actuator lugs to the to the test and found the following:

Newton racing shor with actuator lugs found to improve running economy
Above, the Newton Neutral Racing Shoe with actuator lugs aligned 1 – 4 in the forefoot of the shoe. SOURCE: Moran and Geer, 2012.
  • participants running in the Newton Neutral Racers with the actuator lugs performed better than participants in Neutral Racers without the actuator lugs (shown below).
  • the actuator lugs improved running economy and reduced perception of effort
  • the Newton Neutral Racers with actuator lugs exceeded a 2% improvement in running economy compared to the Newton Neutral Racers without actuator lugs
Actuator lugs Newton Running Shoes
Above,  side view of the Newton Neutral Racer shoe with and without forefoot actuator lugs. SOURCE: Moran and Greer, 2012.

Why Actuator Lugs Produced Better Results

The forefoot actuator lugs added hardness to the sole. Previous studies have found that harder soles increase knee flexion and leg compliance compared to running shoes with a softer sole.

For instance, a study by Clark et al, found that hard soles absorbed less impact at foot strike causing an increase in maximum knee flexion (bending of the knee).

Other studies have found that barefoot runners landed with greater knee flexion, especially on harder surfaces, compared to runners in cushioned footwear and were found to use less oxygen to fuel their muscles.

  • increased knee flexion provides a cushioning effect, making foot strike landing softer and comfortable, and is correlated with reduced muscular efforts and reduced oxygen consumption

Therefore, the researchers suggested that the forefoot actuator lugs may have influenced lower leg kinematics which subsequently resulted in lower oxygen consumption.

Perhaps, sole hardness due to the actuator lugs resulted in perceptual conditions of impact similar to that of barefoot running.  That is, perception of impact from the interaction between the actuator lugs and the ground, may be perceived in the same way then if the runner was running barefoot on a hard surface.

Looking to give the Newton Racer shoe a try?

More From Run Forefoot:


Clarke, T.E., Frederick, E.C., and Cooper, L.B., 1983. Biomechanical measurement of running shoe cushioning properties, In: B.M. Nigg and B.A. Kerr, eds. Biomechanical aspects of sport shoes and playing surfaces. Calgary: University of Calgary Printing Services, 25–34.

Moran, MF and Greer, BK. Influence of midsole ‘actuator lugs’ on running economy in trained distance runners. Footwear Science, 2013;5(2):91-99.

Bretta Riches

"I believe the forefoot strike is the engine of endurance running..."

BSc Neurobiology; MSc Biomechanics candidate, ultra minimalist runner & founder of RunForefoot. I was a heel striker, always injured. I was inspired by the great Tirunesh Dibaba to try forefoot running. Now, I'm injury free. This is why I launched Run Forefoot, to advocate the health & performance benefits of forefoot running and to raise awareness on the dangers of heel striking, because the world needs to know.
Bretta Riches

P.S. Don't forget to check out the Run Forefoot Facebook Page, it's a terrific place to ask questions about forefoot running, barefoot running and injury. I'm always happy to help!

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