The idea of Nike Air technology was first brought forward by former aerospace engineer Marion Franklin Rudy in 1977. Since then, Nike has gone from strength to strength, and they reportedly sell over 780 million pairs of shoes a year.
It is then no surprise that Nike shoes are widely regarded as iconic and constantly pushing the boundaries to achieve a ‘perfect’ shoe. They use technology to their advantage, which contributes to much of their continued success and plays a big part in the Nike Air shoe.
So, what exactly is this technology that seems to be contributing so hugely to Nike’s business figures? Keep on reading and we’ll tell you.
A Brief History of Nike Air History
The pioneer of Nike Air was Marion Franklin Rudy, an aerospace engineer until the 60s when he decided to move on to other pursuits. He used the idea of air to create a cushioned sole and brought his design to a variety of shoe companies – all rejected him.
When brought to the founder of Nike, Phil Knight, he was intrigued and gave them a test run. Impressed, he took Rudy’s ideas on board, and the first Nike Air shoe, the Tailwind, was created in 1978.
This was met with massive success and was soon backed up by runners and scientists alike. This proved that the Nike Air cushioning technology allowed runners to use less energy than when wearing conventional running shoes.
The Nike Air shoe has continued to evolve since then, and continues today, with new iterations being developed as we speak.
What Is Nike Air Technology?
The whole point of Air technology is to give the runner more spring in their step as they run. This is done by reducing the weight of the shoe which allows for a less energy-consuming performance for the wearer. This intention created the Nike air sole so many of us are familiar with today.
This technology has proved to be successful for athletes participating in a number of sports. This includes marathon runners, who need extra cushion and protection as they run very long distances. While great for athletes, the technology also works for casual wearers by giving them impact protection, providing extra support for joints, tendons, and muscles.
How Exactly Does it Work?
In the sole of the shoe lies a small pressurized air bag containing nitrogen. This compresses upon impact and then bounces back ready for the next step. This takes some of the pressure off the foot, leading to a lighter step that provides lightweight cushioning for the user.
The use of nitrogen rather than say, oxygen, is very intentional. Nitrogen is a dense gas, meaning it can’t escape from the material of the pressurized air bag. Gases are, however, still able to transfer into the bag so that the shoe is always pumped up and ready to take the impact of the next step.
These pressurized bags can be found all over the sole of the shoe, focusing on the places that take the most pressure and impact, like the heel.
The Versatility of Air Technology in Different Shoes
The Air technology has been incorporated into a number of shoes. The cushioning placement changes depending on the shoe and its intended use.
– Basketball: Nike’s Air Force sneakers were created with the jumping motion and impact in mind. The air units are found in the heel of the shoe to offer better jumping power and cushioning, ideal for playing on the basketball court.
– Running: Nike’s AirMax and Nike Air Vapormax are great examples of shoes that use Air technology to improve the performance of runners. The air units are found in the forefoot and heel of the shoe to give a balanced cushioned effect. These areas bear the brunt of most of the impact when running and are in need of extra support, which will help protect the rest of the leg’s joints, muscles, and tendons.
– High impact activities: Not just limited to certain sports, Nike has created a shoe that works for different kinds of high impact activities. The Nike Air Max Plus is a great example of this and includes Tuned Air, which was created with the idea of maximum shock absorption in mind. This shoe is also the first to include this adaptation of the classic Air technology!
The Influence of Air Technology
As pioneers in the sneaker world, it’s no surprise that Nike had a huge influence on the way sporting sneakers have evolved over time. This can still be seen today. Michael Jordan’s versions of the shoe show how Nike Air technology had a cultural impact on the world, with Jordan’s marketing tactics during his basketball games creating a hype and buzz every time he wore them.
You can see how using technology to improve and create new shoe designs has had a profound effect on the overall sneaker world and ‘culture’. With Nike’s competitors also continuing to bring out shoes that incorporate the use of technology to improve the user’s experience and performance, the Nike Air influence is undeniable.
The Power of Science and Technology
Nike Air technology has an interesting backstory, and its scientific roots pushed Nike into a whole new world when it comes to the creation of its shoes. With athletes and casual wearers alike praising and wearing the shoes worldwide, it probably isn’t a push to say that Nike has had a global impact on the sneaker world and ‘culture’.
As Nike continues to develop their Air technology and create new shoes year after year, we’re excited to see which steps they’ll take next in the evolution of Nike. Check out our site for more great content!