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Track and field competitions involve three main events. These are the running, throwing, and jumping meets. One well-known portion of the jumping tournament is the high jump. It is very similar to how pole vault contests work, minus the part where there’s a flexible pole involved. With the high jump, athletes are unaided when leaping over the horizontally laid bar that’s between two standards. 

High jump is a track and field match that will test the athlete’s speed, flexibility, and power. Without these attributes, the delivery of an optimal jump might not be in the picture. Although these qualities are honed after years and years of training, there is one thing that is very critical to the performance generated by the athlete—the high jump shoe. Thus, it is safe to say that choosing the right pair of high jump spikes is as important as the skills of the contender. 

The history of high jump 

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Best high jump track and field shoes - May 2020

The earliest recorded high jump meet was during 1896 in Scotland. The sport was only limited to men until its introduction to the women’s Olympic athletics program in 1928. During this time, the approach applied by all the high jumpers was the straight-on or scissors technique. With this method, the athlete would run towards the bar diagonally and throw the inside leg followed by the other leg in a scissoring motion over the bar. With such a technique, a good foot plant is required to leap over the bar. This essentially means that it also takes a grippy track jumping shoe to perform such a technique. 

Jumping techniques in the sport have undergone many changes. However, the fact remains that the high jump shoe plays a key role in optimizing the leap. These days, the Fosbury Flop is a top-pick among high jumpers. This approach demands stability and heightened pace for momentum build-up. Given these, the perfect pair of jumping spikes would be those that deliver a sticky grip with ample support packed in a featherlight platform. 

Phases in high jump

Approach run

The approach run is considered to be more important than the take-off itself. The number of strides in the approach is dependent on the pace of the athlete. If the speed is slow, the approach may require approximately 8 strides. Meanwhile, a faster run can require up to 13 strides. 

Those who prefer to execute their jump with the Fosbury Flop utilizes a J-turn. This allows for a horizontal speed, setting the flight path, and a good take-off position. 

To be able to yield maximum power before takeoff, the approach run demands a highly propulsive and flexible high jump spike. Such qualities can be delivered by the shoe’s spike plate. One example of a plate that supplements these is the Pebax® plate. It is a component that is very common to a number of track jumping shoes like the Nike Zoom Rival M 9 and Adidas Adizero LJ

Take-off

The take-off is dependent on the approach run of the athlete. Basically, if the run was not executed properly, a poor take-off may occur. 

With the take-off phase, everything is kept at a certain angle. For example, everything is back away from the bar at a specific angle to ensure that there is enough room for the hips and legs to cross over the bar when delivering the Fosbury Flop. 

The jumper must make sure to maintain a 45-degree angle when leaning on the turn to have the capacity to jump and go up in the air. With the twisting movements employed by the sport, a secure-fitting jumping shoe must be worn by the high jumper. This is to help prevent unwanted removal of the spike mid-air. An example of a track jumping shoe with a lockdown, secure fashion is the Saucony Uplift HJ 2. 

Qualities of a reliable high jump track shoe

Secure fit. High jumping is a very demanding sport that involves a lot of movements. Track jumping shoes are usually designed with a dual fastening system. It integrates both the classic lacing system and forefoot or midfoot lockdown straps. The multiple closure system of the shoe is responsible for locking the foot in place to prevent premature removal and slippage during training and competition. 

Supportive. Support is a necessary aspect of the high jump spike’s configuration. It helps ensure the stability of the athlete, preventing injuries from happening. Support can be supplied with the help of the in-shoe cushioning, as well as, the overlays embellished to the upper to improve the jumping shoe’s structural integrity. 

Lightweight. To be able to up one’s performance in high jumping, weight is a very significant factor. Even the jumpers are advised to maintain a slim frame to keep the weight down for a more robust jumping performance. The same goes for the high jump spikes utilized during the meet; it should be lightweight. Typically, a good pair of high jump shoes are built with featherlight materials to promote speed and efficiency in each stride. 

Great traction. A good grip on the track surface is what boosts the run of the athlete, which in turn, powers the leap. Good traction production is a must-have for a high jump track shoe because not only does it heighten the performance of the jumper, but it also promotes a safe ride. With superb traction, slip resistance is increased.  

Brands that offer high jump spikes

Below are some of the well-known international athletic footwear brands that have created some of the most remarkable track and field spikes in the market:

Adidas

A famous brand that is recognized worldwide, Adidas is one that focuses on optimizing the performance of the high jumper.  The brand incorporates some of its most acclaimed technologies to deliver speed and power, boosting the jumper’s momentum. 

Nike

Known for being highly innovative, Nike has never stopped revamping its track jumping shoes. The brand is known for manufacturing top-notch high jump spikes that equip the athlete with a highly supportive, secure, and lightweight platform. 

Saucony

Saucony has been able to maintain its status of being one of the go-to brands of the world’s top athletes. Its track and field high jumping shoe is an embodiment of comfort and support—the qualities that have become the brand’s signature. 

Asics

With quality embedded in the company’s culture, Asics continues to produce reliable and high-performing high jump spikes. Graced with the brand’s renowned technologies, its high jumping shoe flaunts durability and responsive cushioning. 

Technologies present in some famous high jump shoes

It is known to many that the athletic footwear industry has stiff competition. To keep up, brands continually innovate, introducing new technologies to their track spikes. Below are some high jump shoe features from different brands that are worth noting. 

Pebax® plate. Composed of thermoplastic polymer, the distance plate exhibits high-strength qualities. It is featherlight and helps produce traction for a highly propulsive approach. Because of its overall makeup, it also helps attenuate shock during impact, keeping the foot protected.

Sharkskin outsole. The sharkskin outsole is made of textured rubber. The patterns on the rubber enhance the slip resistance of the shoe, providing stable performance.

XT-600 rubber. Another outsole component from Saucony, the XT-600 is made of carbon rubber. It flaunts high-strength qualities, heightening the resistance of the shoe from wear and tear. Moreover, it also increases the stickiness of the shoe to the ground, powering the pace of the jumper.

EVA midsole. A staple to many track spikes, the EVA foam cushions the underfoot. Aside from supplying comfort, it also amplifies the protection of the foot from strain or injury.

Solyte™. The Solyte™  foam from Asics is twice lighter than the industry standard foams. It is even lighter than the brand’s famous SpEVA midsole foam. Aside from preventing added bulk, the midsole material provides plush cushioning and pronounced responsiveness. Because of its configuration, this midsole element is very sturdy.

CoolEver mesh. An innovation from Adidas, the CoolEver mesh has a unique design for sweat management. It features clover-shaped yarns that wick away moisture for a clean and healthy foot environment. It also increases the ventilation within the platform for a light, breathable feel. 

Frequently asked questions

How do I know the best-fitting high jump shoe for me? 

When choosing one’s high jumping shoe, there are two things that are worth noting regarding the fit. These two should always come together- tightness and comfort. Generally, a high jumping track spike is designed to fit tightly. This is intended for security and lockdown, preventing shoe removal in the middle of one’s jumping matches or practices. Although tight-fitting, it should not sacrifice comfort. One should have a comfortable in-shoe experience that will disable abrasions and hot spots on the foot. 

Is a high jump spike expensive? 

Not necessarily. Although there are some expensive high jumping shoes in the market, there are also those that are budget-friendly. Although relatively cheaper, these track shoes do not sacrifice quality and function. 

Will my high jump spike help me perform better? 

One’s high jumping shoe can help a jumper perform better, but it is not solely responsible. In a way, it helps improve the jump of the athlete as it aids in turning one’s momentum into a robust take-off, provided that the high jumper already has enough muscle strength in the legs. Thus, it is important for the athlete to take high jump training exercises seriously to be able to have a good foundation during competition.