14 Jul The story of Joe Nimble – and my own.
In many respects my own story is ‘Joe Nimble’s’ story and although my upbringing and family’s history in shoemaking is no doubt unique, my personal journey as a runner and the search for ‘answers’ it’s perhaps one you can relate to.
The “first” barefoot revolution?
Chris McDougall´s best-seller “Born to run” got me excited: finally – so it seemed – the world was coming to it’s senses and beginning to realize that shoes need to be flat and more importantly with an uncompromisingly wide toebox. My dad had come to this realization already in the early 1980s and the family business has been based on the production and selling of footwear based on these principles for the last 35 years.
A “barefoot running” injury and a search for answers.
I am and have been a passionate runner since my teenage days and now the ‘revolution’ provided the perfect opportunity to combine my two passions: running and the development of functional footwear. The problem was that I had over 20 years of experience with footwear development and production under my belt and almost 30 years of running experience but like everyone else; no experience of ‘barefoot running’ . Consequently, I made the same mistake many people around the world made around that time and followed the mantra to just put on “barefoot shoes” (or go completely barefoot) and run on your forefoot. Since I went my usual distances without any further knowledge, I got injured and broke my sesamoid bone in the front of my foot. I don´t know how many doctors, orthopedists, natural therapists, free practitioners, etc. I visited over the period of roughly three years and all of them giving me the same medical opinion that there´s nothing they can do for me and telling me: “You better find a new hobby. Your running days are over…”. I did not want to accept that and untiringly I searched for another solution. I came across the name Lee Saxby a bunch of times on the web and in the end decided to give it a try and join one of his workshops. He had a close look at my situation and after his coaching assessment gave me a couple of exercises to focus on over the next weeks. So I started to practice my squat to improve ankle mobility and built up foot muscles to stabilize my stance. After about 2 months I dared to go running again, but with a higher step cadence and different technique, which Lee had previously taught. Slowly building up distance I am amazed to say that Lee fixed my problem and proved all standard medical opinion questionable. I just ran my first half marathon again last weekend, very nimble and without any problems, when a year ago I was not sure if I ever got to practice running in any way ever again.
be nimble – my lifestyle
With this experience, I got back in touch with Lee, told him about my background and we started philosophizing about what a perfect shoe would have to look like. Together with my brother Christof we agreed to set out on a joint mission to develop the ultimate functional movement shoe!
Joe Nimble exists for one purpose: to continue the work started by our parents over 35 years ago by educating people about the true function of the foot and the lasting negative impact of poorly designed footwear on our mobility and well being for the rest of our lives. This unfashionable truth has been the story of my life and my mission to open peoples´ eyes to the falsehoods they have been sold by the shoe industry continues…
From personal experience, I know now that correct footwear choices are only part of the solution and if combined with the right activities and movement, the effects are incredibly powerful. That´s why we have created the “be nimble” concept together with Lee Saxby to describe a range of footwear that has been designed for people pursuing a lifestyle of activity and health ie a lifestyle of being ‘nimble’.
The first result of this collaboration is the “nimbleToes” functional movement shoe. It builds on everything that we´ve learned and developed in 35 years of making high quality functional footwear based on our uncompromising toefreedom philosophy, combined with Lee´s input on the necessity of a high level of sensory feeback and an insole system that makes the “nimbleToes” not only one of the best running shoes in the world, but a multifunctional movement shoe for various purposes, if you want to be “nimble”.
Last sunday I just finished an emotional race: the Berlin Marathon! My first marathon since Tokyo 2008. Many times I was told “…never again…”. My preparation time was unusually short and I am convinced that the perfect combination made it possible: Lee Saxby´s running technique and the nimbleToes functional movement shoe. I trained smarter, ran with an efficient technique and with less injury risk for the foot and achieved more in the end!