This week sees the launch of the new Nike LunarEpic Flyknit trainer, a new ergonomic running trainer inspired by the success of Nike’s Magista, a global football boot, whose upper morphs into a sock. The launch of LunarEpic feels like a game changer for Nike - this clever shoe/sock (let’s call it a ‘Shock’) allows the foot, ankle and lower leg to work together as a single unit to ‘emphasise the natural movement and a feeling of fluidity'.
Those clever Nike techies (I imagine them in a white lab, wearing white lab coats, trainers on their feet, iPads in hand, trendy Tom Ford glasses poised on noses), have engineered a lightweight, breathable one-piece Flyknit upper that will create the ultimate snug fit around the arch, heel and forefoot (FlyKnits, if you didn’t know are an incredibly popular Nike trainer made out of stretchy but hard-wearing knitted yarn). Meanwhile individual cushioning ‘pistons’ underfoot are said to adapt to each person, creating incredible softness whilst running. The aim, they say, is to maximise the feel and efficiency of your run, bettering fit, feel and force.
Is this therefore the ultimate running ride? Will it bring out my inner Mo Farrah? To be honest I haven’t tried the shoe yet, but I do wonder why no one has thought of this genius idea before. After all, cyclists have used cleats (a shoe that attaches to the pedals on a road bike) for eons to make for a much more efficient, smooth pedalling motion where there's no speed or pressure gap between shoe and bike. Surely this will do the same for running where there's no gap, no delay and no movement between foot and shoe?
I asked Serena Stubbs, an orthotist and biomechanics specialist for her thoughts although she is also yet to try them. ”The extended sock above the ankle will not only provide better suspension but will increase support and proprioception around the ankle,” she says. Will it be good for us less confident runners though, or myself, someone who has suffered from a big knee injury? "It could benefit any runners with hyper mobile or mildly unstable joints. The sole unit thickness being thicker under the heel will also provide excellent impact control at heel strike and encourage optimal load distribution though the foot." She does say however, that if your feet roll in when you walk or run then these might not be for you, "I would possibly be concerend about someone who is a heavy pronator using these" she warns.
For runners this all sounds too good to be true, but whether people can get their head around its space-age looks is a whole other matter. Aesthetically do we like matching our socks to our trainers? How would they look with shorts? And practically do I wear a sock underneath too? What about the stink factor? Will we look back in five years and say in disbelief 'I can't believe we used to wear socks and trainers'? All questions I'm sure will be answered in good time, but one thing is for sure - it puts an end to the eternal life question ‘Why can I only ever find one sports sock?’ Amen to that.