Asics got its start nearly 70 years ago, when Kihachiro Onitsuka began making basketball shoes in his living room in Kobe, Japan. He soon expanded to running shoes, and his first pair, the Marathon Tabi, came out in 1953. His business grew, and in 1977 he merged it with two other companies and began selling footwear in the United States. He also changed the company’s name to Asics, an acronym for the Latin phrase “Anima Sana In Corpore Sano” (a sound mind in a sound body). Since then, Asics has grown into one of the premier running shoe companies.
A strong commitment to research and performance has helped Asics design consistently high quality running shoes, and made it a favorite among all kinds of runners. Shortly after its arrival in the US, Asics released the California jogging shoe, which featured new developments like a flared sole and reflective tape on the heels to keep runners visible at night. In May 1990, it opened the Research Institute of Sports Science in Kobe, where the company conducts materials tests and biomechanical research to fine tune its designs. This lab has produced some of Asics’ hallmark innovations, like the Gel shock absorption system, which helps soften impact forces as your foot strikes the ground, and midsole features, which combat overpronation and help prevent injury.
The company has continued to churn out new technologies in recent years. Like other shoemakers, it pushed past EVA foam with proprietary cushioning. For Asics, that's FlyteFoam, which has subgroups of FlyteFoam Propel, a special elastomer to increase energy return, and FlyteFoam Lyte, simply a lighter weight version.
Another key innovation is the Impact Guidance System, which combines an external heel counter and specially-designed plates in the midsole to aid in a more natural foot movement while running. All this means that each pair of Asics has been scrutinized from top to bottom to help you run further, faster, and more comfortably. It has led to some remarkable running shoes—here are a few of our favorites.