Published on June 24, 2016
Falke Impulse Running
The new Falke Impulse Running range could be described as a revolution in apparel tech. Equally it could be described as very expensive socks, shorts and a t-shirt. The truth is that there’s probably some middle ground here (which we’ll explore blow) but let’s start at the beginning…
RunningMonkey has long enjoyed using Falke kit, their socks are certainly amongst our favourites, but our reviews have always noted the upper limits of what we might consider acceptable prices; there’s just no getting away from the fact that this is expensive kit. Whilst the new Falke Impulse Running range definitely ups their game in terms of ergonomic technology the price too has headed north.
Before we look at the individual items that make up this range, here’s the USP that Falke hope will convince us to part with our hard earned cash. The secret is… bobbles.
The socks, shorts and t-shirts all incorporate tiny knitted and silicone bobbles that Falke are calling ‘activators’. Why? Because they are designed to active and stimulate the fasciae, the bands of connective tissue beneath the skin. A slightly more technical definition of fasciae comes courtesy of Dr. Heike Jäger (Fascia Research Group, Ulm University) and the Falke press release: ‘Fasciae are primarily responsible for detecting and transmitting mechanosensory stimuli when the body is at rest or in motion. In short, fasciae are the tissue responsible for the body’s self-perception which constantly informs our brain of the body’s position and movements.’
Why tickle the fasciae? The science (or theory at least) is that when the correct points of fasciae are stimulated they trigger corresponding areas of the brain, which in turn ensure that muscle movements are optimised for running. Think of it a little like constant trigger point acupuncture on the move. Actually don’t, that might put you off.
The Falke Impulse Running socks are long – really long. Despite carefully selecting the right size for us these still proved to be slightly above knee length. No bad thing and certainly for trail running where the added protection was excellent.
The full range effectively features two levels of activators and whilst the top and shorts incorporate the more aggressively raised silicon knobs the socks are gentler with lower profile knitted bobbles. Arranged along the length of the under-foot and in a band up the back of the leg – slightly to the outside of the calf – there’s a not unpleasant tingling sensation in action on the run. As with the rest of the Impulse Running kit it’s almost impossible to scientifically judge any personal benefit during testing – there are just too many variables – but in terms of perception of benefit (more on which below) these proved comfortable and the legs continued to feel strong throughout the longest test run (half-marathon.)
Unlike a lot of compression wear the Falke Impulse Running socks aren’t too much of struggle to get on. The squeeze is palpable, but it’s not constrictive and used as recovery socks they undoubtedly have further benefits. On the downside they are heavy and thick; too warm really for summer runs even when the temperature was only hovering in the mid-teens.
Moving on to the Falke Impulse Running shorts these again were far easier to get on than most compression wear RunningMonkey has tested. The banding at both the waist and (just) above the knee is well judged and comfortable, and the reflective detailing a bonus.
In addition to low-profile knitted activators, zoned predominantly up the length of the hamstrings, the shorts feature more raised silicon activators along the outside of the legs and across the quads. Turn these shorts inside-out and they look like medieval torture garments although in practice – and on the run – these evil-looking ‘spikes’ just gently tingle and stimulate the legs. As with the socks, it’s a noticeable and not unpleasant sensation.
The Falke Impulse Running shorts were certainly comfortable as far as compression shorts go, and the targeted support around the knees will be appreciated by those prone to niggles in the joints. The down side? Again, these are thick shorts which didn’t feel particularly breathable and which, once soaked by rain, felt heavy and awkward.
Here’s the thing with compression wear. It’s easy(ish) to make a case for its application with socks, tights and shorts but once into t-shirt territory it’s murkier water. Naturally manufacturers would argue otherwise and all would no-doubt have ‘evidence’ to back up their beneficial claims – what do I know? I just wear the stuff…
The Falke Impulse Running t-shirt certainly looks the part – one red sleeve, one black, grey knit-look body, figure hugging and just generally a bit superhero-like (and RunningMonkey isn’t being derogatory here.)
Zoned low-level activators are supplemented by silicon nodules down the lower back and despite our scepticism about efficacy the t-shirt really felt like it was making a difference. Posture felt better, with a more upright, chest-out attitude, which didn’t feel like it dipped during the longer test runs (again half-marathon.)
We mentioned perception of benefit above and although there may well be a case for the benefits of active fasciae stimulation the placebo effect is probably an important factor here too. To be clear: placebo is not a dirty word – placebo works, oddly and counter-intuitively even when we know it’s a placebo…
If you wear kit that’s designed to improve your posture for example it’s likely you will be concentrating whilst wearing it on your posture. Ergo posture improves. There’s also a school of thought that says the more expensive something is the more benefit we believe it must bring. Which would make the Falke Impulse Running kits very beneficial indeed.
Pros and cons
You will have noticed that RunningMonkey has alluded to price several times without having been specific. So here are the numbers – socks £45, shorts £120, t-shirt £150. That’s over £300 if you want the range…
We have certainly enjoyed testing the Falke Impulse Running range and been surprised – particularly with the t-shirt – at how much it felt like it improved our running style. As compression wear goes, this is excellent quality, well targeted and with the added (probable) benefit of fasciae-stimulating activators.
Being relatively heavy and thick – not to mention prone to what felt like waterlogging if you get caught out in a shower – it’s hard to know what time of year would fit in with the range’s picky demands. But that said, if you are looking to improve posture and form and you have the money to experiment then the Falke Impulse Running will probably be worth every penny to you.
Further details and online purchase at www.falke.com