If you want to be able to skate as long as possible, eat quality foods and fuel your body with the nutrients in fruits, veggies and quality protein sources.
– Nick Dompierre
the truth about Footprint insoles.
It’s safe to say that Footprint insoles are dominating the skate insole game. We’ve all seen the classic clips where they drop bowling balls on their insoles and other skate insoles to compare how much force they absorb, and in this test Footprint completely destroys every other insole. But are they legit, or is it just another marketing hack?!
In this video/article we're going to deeply analyse FP insoles, we'll analyse why reducing impact is so important and what you need for the full impact absorption package.
non-Newtonian fluids & NASA technology.
First off, what exactly are FP insoles, what are they made of and are they even any different from other insoles?
Insoles are made from many different materials but the standard ones you're gunna find in most skate shoes are some kind of foam or gel. In terms of comfort, stock insoles can be pretty dam comfortable, as if you're walking on some kind of fluffy yoghurt-like material. On the other hand, they can be absolutely horrendous and be not better than skating barefoot - Adidas I'm looking at you! Just because an insole is comfortable and squishy doesn't necessarily mean it protects you from impact though, but we'll get to that soon.
Footprint insoles are made up primarily of a completely different material that’s known as a “non-Newtonian” fluid. Not only is it a pretty comfortable material, it's also pretty damn crazy... It's liquid at rest but when you apply force rapidly to it, it stiffens up and becomes solid... Yeh mate. Check the video below. I never thought I'd say it, but it's actually replaced rusty nails as my new favourite material.
Alright so stock insoles and Footprint insoles can both be comfortable but as long as you're not skating in clogs or with the Adiease paper-thin insoles, I don't think there's a massive amount of difference between insoles, and not enough for you to really care about. But what about their shock absorption capabilities? That's much more important not only in the moment to avoid things like heel bruises, but over time to reduce the total strain placed on your body when you go skate.
Well like I said before we've all seen the videos of Footprint dropping things like bowling balls and eggs on their insoles and other insoles to compare how much impact they absorb and this is where their non-Newtonian fluid technology comes in.
According to FP, their insoles absorb up to 90% of impact energy. They compared their insoles to some Nike Lunaron which absorbed around 50%. Their formula absorb impact so well that NASA actually uses Footprint’s technology to protect these little mini robots that fly around the space station from impact. Crazy shit right?! Skateboarding getting NASA quality tech and at the same time getting accepted to be in the Olympics… Did Tony Hawk join the illuminati or something?!
impact is actually essential for health.
There aren't many other things that expose our bodies to as much impact as skateboarding. I mean literally all we do is jump and hit the ground, easily reaching 100 times in a single session.
An impact occurs when two objects collide - it could be your foot with the ground, your board with a ledge, or your genitalia with a handrail. As everyone that's taken a nice heavy slam knows; the harder you hit something, the more force that gets sent back into your body. As you might remember from school (no judgements if you don't, I didn't, I looked it up again years later) this occurs because whatever force you apply into an object that object will return the exact same force back to you.
For example if you weigh 70kg, and you're just standing still, you're pushing into the ground with 70kg x 9.8 ms² (the force of gravity) and the ground is pushing back into your feet with the exact same amount of force.
When you walk your leg is accelerating into the ground faster and as a result you hit the ground harder; applying about 1-1.5x bodyweight into the ground (and back into your body). When you run it's about 2-3x bodyweight, and then if you’re skating flat it can be as much as 5-7x bodyweight depending on whether you're landing on your board and how high you pop. This means that even chilled sessions can still accumulate a lot of impact.
But the impact forces start getting insalely big when you start skating gaps... Sole Tech Labs did an experiment where they put a force plate at the bottom of an 11 stair to measure the impact from skaters jumping down it, and found that the impact forces were as much as 17x bodyweight! That's an insane amount of force being sent through your body and imagine if it takes you 20 attempts to get your trick.
Impact causes micro-damage in tissues like your muscles, tendons and bones, and although that sounds like a bad thing, it's actually essential for you to adapt to handle the stresses of skating. This is because this damage is one of the triggers that makes your body think "Oh shit! I should adapt and grow back stronger so I can better handle these impact forces next time!".
Now we all have a personal threshold of what our bodies can handle. This threshold is going to be different for everyone and depends on many different things, like how many years you've skated, what you like to skate, whether you strength train on top of skating, etc.
Passing this threshold is necessary if you want to adapt to skating, but passing it by a large amount in one blow or on a regular basis without sufficient recovery is when problems can kick off; like aches and pains or more serious injuries.
There are different ways you can pass this impact threshold. You've got the large amount of damage that accumulates within a single session from either just one single heavy slam, or repetitive impact from jumping down a gap multiple times - leading to injuries like heel bruises, primo pains or more serious injuries (touch ya wood).
Then you've got the less severe damage, but damage that accumulates across multiple sessions due to insufficient recovery combined with skating more than what your body is used to, or from repetitive stress in the wrong points from poor mechanics. This kind of damage can also cause problems like heel bruises, but can also lead to overuse issues and injuries and those nagging aches and pains.
Although like I said, some impact is necessary for adaptation, there's a limit to what we can adapt to and we definitely didn't evolve to jump off buildings onto concrete. So considering there are such frequent and high impact forces involved with skating, if we're after longevity, reducing injuries and just feeling better on and off the board, the more we can minimise that impact, the better.
Now maybe you're thinking all I'm gunna say you need for that is a pair of Footprint insoles, but not so fast young Jimmy, there are other parts involved if you want the full impact protection package, which we'll get to next...
the full impact protection package.
So like I said earlier the ground will always send the same force back into your body that you send into it, meaning the faster we hit the floor the more impact force you'll send back into your body.
Now there are 2 ways we can reduce this impact force:
1 - we figure out a way of unlocking the “moon physics” cheat from THPS in real life, or
2 - we hit the floor softer by decelerating slower and distributing the force over more time.
To understand what the hell I'm talking about, stand up right now and participate in this high quality scientific experiment...
We're going to do two different jumps to test your body's ability to absorb force. For both jumps you only need to jump about 5cm (2.5in) off the ground.
1. You're gunna jump normally - landing on the balls of your feet and flexing your ankles, knees and hips to absorb the impact - as you hopefully would normally land.
2. Next, you're gunna jump again but this time keep your legs completely straight and land with your weight on your heels (don't jump high for this one!!).
You feel the shock that was sent through your body on that second jump?! All that from just a 5cm high jump!
The difference that you felt with these two jumps is down to how much time you took to decelerate or bring your body to a complete stop/rest. With the first jump your muscles, tendons and joints flexed - absorbing force by causing you to decelerate slower; and as a result taking more time to come to a complete stop.
Whereas with the second jump your muscles and tendons didn't absorb much force, causing you to decelerate and come to a complete stop/rest much faster; sending much more force through your joints and bones.
Assuming you jumped the same height, with both jumps you hit the floor with the same amount of momentum (your bodyweight x gravity), the difference is just the amount of time that force took to be sent back into your body.
It’s the same as if you’re driving fast in a car and you suddenly slam the brakes on, quickly come to a stop. The shock is going to be much greater compared to braking slowly over a longer period of time.
Now because of the NASA quality tech, Footprint insoles work in the same way; absorbing force, meaning less is sent back through your body. But as you've just seen, your body is also an absolute boss of shock absorption. But, only if it has the strength and control to absorb force and you're landing with good mechanics.
So yes, Footprint insoles are legit, and are a solid tool to reduce impact when you're skating, click here to pick up a pair. But if you're after the full impact protection package then you really need to be combining them with working out. For skate-workout content check out the strength training page or the NBD skate performance program if you're after a more comprehensive workout program designed for skateboarding.
Oh, and of course you better be skating frequently too!