Cushioning explained: Nike Lunarlon
Nike developed its Lunarlon cushioning technology by observing the way astronauts bounded about on the moon, as though "on marshmallows."
By Striperpedia staff
Jogging on a road of marshmallows may elicit images of extreme comfort. But one would need the right system in place to avoid getting mired in a sticky mess.
Enter Lunarlon cushioning, which lies at the heart of Nike’s Dynamic Support system and is engineered to guide runners down just such a pillowed pathway.
Nike developed Lunarlon cushioning by studying images of astronauts bounding across the surface of the moon, “as if on marshmallows” – exactly the ultra-cushioned image that Nike wanted to evoke.
Nike touted Lunarlon as being 30% lighter than Nike’s standard Phylon foam and embedded the lightweight cushion in a firmer Phylon or Phylite foam carrier. This dual-density construction helped to balance dissipation of impact forces with stability.
Researchers in the Nike Sports Research Lab (NSRL) conducted pressure platform tests on runners to find pressure points on the foot. They found that with Lunarlon foam, the pressure load had a larger distribution area across the foot. The foam is soft and dissipates force more evenly over a larger area so athletes aren’t pounding all their pressure in one place. It protects the foot’s fragile bones, according to Nike, and helps add stability and is comfortable for exercise.
“Much like you’d use a wedge to … stabilize a wobbly table, we have two wedges,” said Rob Dolan, Footwear Design Director for Nike Running, in a Nike promotional video. “One is a wedge of soft foam (Lunarlon); one is a wedge of firm foam (Phylon or Phylite). … Think about a ball rolling down a decline and then rolling back up an incline to slow it down. This wedge works like that (for the heel).”
Lunarlon is the core material at the heart of the LunarLite system, which is part of Nike’s Dynamic Support system. LunarLite combines Lunarlon, along with the Phylon or Phylite carrier, with Waffle Piston geometry for a unique blend of plush cushioning and springy response.
“In the heel, we removed the carrier foam and exposed the Lunarlon,” Dolan continued. “Think of it kind of like a trampoline. You have this structure on the outside and the soft stuff in the middle. And when you land on it, the perimeter supports you and allows that really soft foam to sort of push through.”
Lunarlon cushioning is at the heart of one of Footlocker.com’s most popular sellers, the Nike LunarGlide series. Warren Greene, a reviewer for Runner’s World, touted the LunarGlide+ 2 as being good for training or racing, depending on the runner.
“The (LunarGlide+ 2) is a good choice for normal-arch runners looking for durable cushioning and a little touch of stability,” Greene said in a Runner’s World video. “For flat-arch runners, heavier runners, this might actually be a good race-day shoe. Again it’s got that stability; there’s actually a wedge of foam in here, which gives you a little more support than you would expect from a shoe (that weighs) just over 11 ounces.”
Nike's LunarLite system consists of Lunarlon lightweight foam embedded in a carrier of firmer Phylon or Phylite, which promotes springy resilience within a more stable construction.