Newton Gravity Running Shoe Review (Boy, Was I Wrong)

by Jason Fitzgerald

I used to say that using technology like “actuator lugs” to promote a neutral, natural foot strike was ironic and totally unnecessary.

Of course, I’m talking about Newton running shoes which have a very distinctive sole:

Newton Gravity Lugs

I refused to wear them because of those wacky lugs and thought they weren’t for “real” runners. But then I thought I should test my assumptions about such a unique shoe and Newton was gracious enough to supply a pair for me to review.

And tested they were!

You see, Newtons all have these lugs on the forefoot that put you in a more neutral position because the heel-toe drop differential is reduced – you’re not standing with an elevated heel like many other shoes on the market. I thought the lugs seemed silly before I ran in them. Now, I’m a fan of the Newton Gravity’s I’ve worn for the last three weeks.

Newton Gravity Running Shoe – Specs and Overview

I wear a size 10 shoe and wore the Gravity’s almost exclusively for three weeks. Admittedly, this was a quick transition to a shoe that claims it promotes a more “natural” running form. Usually, that phrase simply means that the shoes promote a midfoot strike and reduce heel striking (even though heel striking isn’t necessarily bad).Newton Running

So, why can I make this transition much more quickly than most runners? I had just spent three months running in neutral shoes, wearing flip flops the rest of the time, and I did a lot of barefoot walking.

During the last four weeks I’ve also run once a week in even more minimalist shoes (currently the Brooks PureFlows).

If you’re looking to run in more low-profile shoes, here’s my step-by-step post on how to run in minimalist running shoes.

Anyway, here are the most important Newton Gravity specs:

  • 3mm heel-toe drop
  • 9.1 ounces
  • Anti-microbial sockliner (I still have no problems with smell – just sniffed!)

My first impression was that they felt weird. I wasn’t used to the lugs underneath my forefoot and walking in them was odd. But I ran a tempo during a 14 miler for my first run in them and they felt really good – much different than when walking.

Other than a bit of lower leg soreness afterward, which was to be expected, I liked the feel of the Gravity’s. They’re not a very low-profile shoe and have a significantly raised footbed but I personally prefer a little more cushion. After a few days I got used to the low heel-toe drop and kept running in them 5-6 days per week.

You’ll definitely notice the actuator lugs while running but I quickly adapted and they don’t feel awkward anymore. In fact, I like that they promote a midfoot strike while offering some cushion (typically a rare combination). For me, they work.

I’ve since worn them on 21 mile long runs with three miles on the back half in under six minutes. I had no problems and appreciated the “Action/Reaction” material in the sole that claims to lose less energy than EVA foam, gel, or air. It felt responsive and when I’m feeling good, I can really cruise in the Gravity’s!

One of the small details that I really appreciated was an insert in the shoebox that I took a picture of and included above. There’s some great advice about running form that you don’t get from most of the other major shoe manufacturers.

The best piece of advice: don’t run on your toes. Unless you’re sprinting, an aggressive forefoot strike is probably worse than an aggressive heel strike!

Pros and Cons of the Newton Gravity

Newton Gravity Running Shoe

No shoe is perfect and I want to be clear that while I really liked the Gravity’s, I won’t be purchasing a pair for future training. I’ll stick to some of the other running shoes I’ve reviewed. But before I get into that, I want to go over their pros and cons the way I see them.

Pros

  • Cushioned, neutral trainer with a light, responsive ride
  • Promotes a midfoot strike without forcing you to make noticeable form changes
  • 3mm heel-toe drop (just remember to transition slower than I did!)
  • Comfortable upper – no problems with blisters
  • Durable – low wear and tear even after 200+ miles

Cons

  • Price – at $175 they’re inaccessible for most of the market. I don’t think they’re worth it.
  • Debris can get stuck in the actuator lugs, especially if you run a lot of trails
  • Could be too cushioned for some runners

I recommend the Newton Gravity running shoes for runners with a neutral foot strike or those who are mild overpronators who want a “cautious minimalist” shoe.

They may not be great for trail running (rocks and sticks get stuck in the lugs) or racing (they’re too high-profile for my tastes), but as a neutral trainer that can promote more lower leg strength, they’re a valuable tool in any runner’s toolbox.

The reason why I won’t be purchasing a pair is simply because of the price tag. They’re about double what most running shoes cost and I just can’t figure out why they’re priced at $175. I’m sure it has to do with the actuator lugs and proprietary sole material but regardless, it’s out of my reach and I suspect that’s true for most runners.

But as I continue to run in the Gravity’s, I have to admit that my first impression of them was wrong. The lugs do promote a neutral running stride without being overly obtrusive. I wouldn’t go walking in them or wear them casually, but for running they’re a comfortable addition to my collection of running shoes.

If you want to give them a try, the best deal seems to be on Amazon where they qualify for free shipping. Check them out here.

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chris

I heard the toebox is a bit narrow. True? I prefer zero-drop and wide forefoot.

Jason Fitzgerald

I didn’t have a problem with the toebox. In fact, I found it had plenty of room without being overly wide. By comparison, I thought the Saucony Kinvara was a bit narrow in the toebox. I’d say I have average-width feet…

Sherry

I have a pair of Newtons and love them! They are narrow, and I usually have a hard time finding shoes that fit properly because I need a wide toebox, but I went up a size and found them to be comfortable. in all honesty, the only reason I own a pair is because I earned them by volunteering at my local running store. I cannot afford the hefty price tag so I will not replace them when they wear out.

cecile

I bought a pair of momentum a year 1/2 ago and tried to change my stride to fit these shoes, but after a few month, when I turned them to assess my sole, I could see that I was still hitting the heels quite a bit. I decided to go back to my usual pair which was MUCH less expensive and more adapted to my way of running. I’m blessed with no injuries (run 25 to 40m/week) so why change?

Stacey

Thanks for posting. I think I may not have transitioned slowly enough in a lower heel-drop shoe. I’m now experiencing arch pain/burning in my feet : (

Does it sound like plantar fasciitis? What do I do now?

Mark Duffield

I have run my last three marathons in the same pair of Newton Distance. They are pretty much the same as the Newton Gravity except that the Distance doesn’t have a rubber membrane on the heal like the Gravity does.

The toe box of the most recent models are a bit larger than previous models (this according to the Newton guy I talked to at the Boston Marathon Expo).

Another advantage is that these shoes are designed to go further than the typical 300 – 400 miles of a more traditional shoe. I’ve found this to be the case. So, while they cost a bit more (double-ish), they last to about 600 – 700 miles. I had 600 on my original pair of Newton Gravity. I have over 400 miles on both my current Gravity and my Distance.

Jason Fitzgerald

That certainly helps to justify the cost. And if you love them, what’s the price tag on that?

Pete

I got the 2012 version at Roadrunner in the Fall when they were “endangered” + VIP = $117. Ended up getting 4 pair (2 gravity, 2 distance) to last me through the year. I’m planning on doing the same at the end of this year.

Jason Fitzgerald

Smart!

AnnaMarie

Also looking at the 2012 vs the 2013…I can’t identify from Newton’s website what the 2013 model has over the 2012??

Levi D.

In my opinion the price tag of the newtons is ridiculous. I can get four pair of discounted shoes for the same price. Even more, if I buy track spikes.
They are comfortable, light-ish, and good looking, but it is more like a fashion then actual performance increase. Lead marathoners don’t use them, also loads of people actually shave off the lugs.
Training first, then shoes second. Also if you are high milage person, these won’t last so long. And who knows, as you friction down the lugs, how it will change your running gait ? Maybe you’re gonna have some real negative effect in your natural plantar motion. Also ground feel is zero.
Not against newton, not by it neither. Surely damn expensive. Recently got a TYPE A5, after I ran 2000+kms in the TYPE A4s. 40€ – will be good till the end of the year, and they look awesome too.
Anyway, like always it was great to read your article. Keep up the good work.

Jason Fitzgerald

I used to think the price tag was 100% ludicrous. Then I went to Australia where it costs more than $200 for most pairs of running shoes, so now I think we have it pretty good here in the US! But you’re right, it’s still high.

Melinda

I was just going to say something about the prices of shoes here. It’s normal for us to pay upwards of $150 for shoes that cost half that in the US. It used to be blamed on high exchange rate when USD$1 = AUD$2. But they’be been on parity for a few years now and prices haven’t gone down. One reason Aussies are turning to online shopping.

Levi D.

Australia is an Island, so the cost of shipping lifts the base price up, that includes bikes, swim apparel and all running stuff too. I used to live in Malta, another small island under Sicily. I was just stunned by the local shoe prices, I paid 140€(160$) for a Piranha II back then. Here in mainland Europe we can always find great deals, but what I can see in the states, the prices are just a lot lower in general. Great to live there as a runner. The the americans seem to be thinking the same from Europe; not true though :D

Stephen Ward

It can’t be the fact that we’re in island as I can order stuff from wiggle in the UK for around half the price with free shipping!

Ed Yeo

Hi Jason,

Can this pair of shoes be used to run on all terrains? Like grass, sand and road?

I live in Singapore and would like to buy it. Do you happen to know whether I can get it online, like from Amazon?

Thanks.
Ed

Jason Fitzgerald

Yes and yes.

archie

Jason:
I love biking. I’ve been biking around Europe for several years. Because of pain, I’ve been biking on recumbent bike and trike. My grandson is getting into cross country at school and I find the idea of running cross country very appealing. I’ve always shied away from running because of all the jarring of joints and shin splints. I also have all the cartilage gone between big toes and feet. I need cushioning. However, I’d like to be able to run cross country with a mid foot or fore foot strike. For the past 12 years I’ve suffered with pain in my gluteus maximus and thigh and hip. I now understand that may be IT band injury from the 100 mile/day ride i took several years ago. What shoe do you recommend for me running across country that would relieve the pain in both large toes but keep me with a forefoot strike?
Thanks,

lloyd

Jason Fitzgerald

Well first I want to challenge you and ask, why the preoccupation with foot strike? It’s not the most important thing when it comes to running form. And no shoe “relieves pain” – you just have to find one that feels good when you run.

archie

What I read about forefoot striking is that it reduces the shock hence a reduction in shin splints and joint injury.
lloyd

Jason Fitzgerald

And increases stress on the ankle joint. I wouldn’t recommend focusing on foot strike. Focus on a neutral pelvis, higher cadence, and landing underneath your hips. The rest takes care of itself.

archie

Thank you, Jason.
lloyd

Justin

I loved my Newtons when I first go them and ran 3 marathons in (a couple different pairs of) Gravitys. However, I, too, found the toe box to be too narrow and in my last marathon in them I really noticed the pinching. It may just be that I have wide feet, but that combine with the price tag made me switch to Altras — which are great!

I also attribute the elimination of knee pain (partially) to training in the Newtons and the adjustments to my form made because of them. I did tweak my lifting habits to help strengthen the supporting muscles, so I cannot say it’s 100% because of the Newtons.

Matt

Just got a pair of Gravity’s – I have been running in VFF Bikila’s for the past 2 years but not hardcore. Basically just to train for our 15K summer race. However, my training this year was going a bit better as I got on it earlier so I started really bumping up my milage. Well the minimalist Bikilas were just too minimalist for my runs over 5 miles on the roads. Started getting foot pain so I decided I would get a more cushioned trainer for longer runs. I tried on 5 different low to zero drop shoes at the sneaker store and my foot was too wide for all of them except this shoe. So I think they have significantly widened the footbed. I was interested in the Altera line as well but they didn’t carry them and I really don’t like buying a running shoe I can’t try on first. No real review yet as I just got them yesterday, but the fit was the best, and the sales guy said the same thing about the Newton being good for double to triple the milage of some of the other brands, so I figured I would rather have the one that felt the best, as long as I could re-coup the cost down the line.

tom

Does anyone know if they can be work daily or for basic cardio in addition to running? I have a stress fracture in the metatarsil and the guy at the running store said these may help because of the “hard” lugs …. any opinion?

Jason Fitzgerald

Tom, I’m not sure what you mean. The Newton’s reinforce a midfoot landing because the heel-toe drop is so low and because of the lugs. With a stress fracture, you won’t to RELIEVE stress on your metatarsals so I wouldn’t wear a shoe like this.

Tom

Thank you for the response!. I meant the shoe salesman recommended this shoe because the shoe has no flexibility in the mid-foot…it would allow the foot to not bend in that area, thus allowing the stress fracture to heal faster…but i understand your point. What shoe would you recommend in this situation?

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