Springbak Speedsoles Review
Springbak Speedsoles Review
Product Name: Springbak Speedsoles
'Don't get your hopes up and you won't be dissapointed.' This was the wise, if somewhat pessimistic advice that I was following when I tried out Springbak Speedsoles (also known as 'jumpsoles' and 'springsoles'), so I was pleasantly suprised to find that these little nippers had at least some positive effects, even if they didn't quite live up to the marketing hype. And boy is the hype overblown; these simple little insoles that you slip inside your shoe under your current ones are supposed to improve your jumping height, running speed, stamina (not in the bedroom I presume), flexibility and even strength, while meanwhile preventing shin splints and joint problems. About 50% of that is true but we'll get into that in a minute.
The way these things work is something of a mystery with even the official website coming across slightly muddled but it seems that it essentially boils down to two effects. On the one hand, this thin layer of rubber is supposed to be hyper bouncy - kind of like flubber - which would understandably give you an extra spring in your step while meanwhile cushioning your joints from impact. The magic formula is a combination of ordinary and butadiene rubber (which they have patented for use in footware) and the website claims that this returns up to 80% of energy (so that when a ball bearing is dropped on one of the insoles it will bounce to 80% of its original height). For you that should mean an extra 1-3'' on your vertical leap. Good stuff.
The other process by which it is supposed to work is through 'vibration frequency'. Nope, me neither. This apparently refers to the flow of electrical impulses around the body and apparently standing on these 1/16'' slips of rubber can somehow improve that (apparently through a 'symbiotic relationship' with your foot... come on!). This is how the soles claim to improve strength and stamina. It seems like the marketing strategy should have stuck to either one or the other explanation but hey... Interestingly 'viration frequency' doesn't bring up much on google either.
But enough idle speculation! Mine came through in the post a couple of days ago and I decided to them through their pieces (literally - hoho!). To that end I brought my trainers into work with me and slipped them on with the insoles installed before setting off for lunch. They fitted in pretty nicely and although they were a little long I managed to fold the end up the back wall of the shoe and I supposed it's better than them being too short. That was all academics though - I wanted to know about performance enhancement!
I have to admit I was pretty impressed, I honestly felt allot lighter and quicker and the difference was too great to be merely a placaebo effect. I then decided to sprint to Waterstones which is a good 1/4 mile away from the office. Awesomely though I managed to keep up a pretty decent speed the whole way without slowing down. I felt more energetic and found myself leaping over benches, sliding down banisters and dancing round old ladies out of sheer enjoyment (although they didn't enjoy it). Don't get the wrong impression - I hadn't transformed into Sonic the Headehog (I was already Sonic the Headgehog) and the differences were only minor really, perhaps I could jump an extra inch say, but it really did make me feel a whole lot better and for the price and minimum hastle it was definitely worthwhile. Having expected very little I was pleased to find my cynicism misplaced.
So I'd say it's fair to say that 'butadiene' is a cool thing to put in shoes and I hope that Springbak take advantage of their patent and bring out some with the stuff built-in. I'm not so sure however about this 'vibration frequency' malarky. I mean, my slippers have got squishy insides (which adapt to the ergonomics of your feet and all), are they improving my frequency? But again I decided to test the theory first before shooting my mouth off so I wore the shoes to the gym. Now according to the website I should have been able to 'draw more energy' from my muscles and so improve my bench and lessen exhaustion, a bit like creatine for your feet...
Here though I was not so pleased and I found that if anything I actually had a particularly bad session going down 20kg (that gym is weird and claustrophobic but still). That's not the fault of the shoes, but they did little to help matters. I tried them again this evening in my flat for my usual calisthenics workout and again found no improvement - I just got my floor muddy.
The first time I wore them I also felt a strange ache in my feet that evening allot like I'd been ice skating (I hate ice skating). It was like I'd been forced to use my tendons to balance more which is actually pretty strange as the soles are so thin. It's more likely that my feet were perhaps unused to the extended fast running and maybe I'd stretched the tendon a bit. Anyway the problem had dissapeared the second day so I've written it off as a one-off.
All in all then Speedsoles are definitely a worthwhile purchase for runners and traceurs but not so much for gym goers. At 5 on ebay though you can't really go wrong and I imagine they'd be fairly useful for anyone who gets shin-splints or would like to have a slight advantage on the football pitch. Don't believe all hype though and certainly don't expect to improve your bench. Adman out.
Visit the Jump USA site
Think Like Sherlock Holmes