Monday, July 8, 2013
ToPo Athletic have launched a new line of lightweight running shoes with split toes. The brainwave of former CEO of Vibram USA , Tony Post was responsible for the FiveFingers . Now the shoe innovator has started V the American outpost of a Italian footwear company. Post has been designing shoes for almost 30 years and took inspiration from the shoes worn by Shigeki Tanaka who won the Boston Marathon in 1951 wearing tabi style running shoes.
Tabi were traditionally worn with Zōri (Tatami Sandals) from the 1st Century AD and were a white cotton foot covering (like socks) with a split toe between the big toe and the other four toes. Tabi were the only foot coverings traditionally permitted on the tatami mat-covered floors inside Japanese houses. Very much later tabi were made of more robust fabrics and worn as soft shoes and boots.
Zōri were flat bottomed sandals made of straw with a leather thong between the first and second toes. According to Post freedom to move the big toe independently of the others allows adjustments to be made with optimal leverage strength of the big toe. Currently there are three models available: the RR (road race) version, the RT, a road training running shoe, and the RX for crosstraining. The RR version features a cord made of 49 woven steel fibers instead of laces similar lacing system to snowboard boots. The shoes are priced between $100 and $130 US.
(Ed. It is possible the separate pocket which houses the lesser toes could give the weightbearing foot a certain mechanical advantage to the Windlass action which takes place during take off. This might result in increased muscle tone to the intrinsic foot muscles.)
Friday, July 5, 2013
Prior to the semi finals, Novak Djokovic was told by the All England Club to change his shoes. In the previous rounds Djokovic played with rough foxing around his shoes and did not slip. The foxing of a shoe describes the reinforcement or covering used traditionally to vulcanize (join) the sole and upper of the canvas shoe. According to the Grand Slam Handbook, shoes for grass-court should not have “pimples or studs around the outside of the toes.” Foxing around the toes must be smooth in the competition grass court tennis shoe. Extended traction offered by rubber villi could increase stability on went surfaces and technically give the player greater advantage over their opponent who was not similarly shod. A Wimbledon referee reported Djokovic and he had to change his shoes. During the semi-final against Juan Martin Del Potro, Djokovic slipped on the grass a number of times. This event has once again raised the question about shoe tread and grass surfaces. Earlier Roger Federerwas prevented from wearing his orange-soled shoes due to the “all - white clothing” rule.
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Professor Jim Richards is a biomechanical engineer at the School of Sport, Tourism and the Outdoors at the University of Central Lancashire. He and his team have developed a new sports shoe called The Preston (named after the town where the shoes were developed). The running shoe contains approximately 20 tiny galvanised steel matress -like springs (or e Spring) in the sole. The springs are also fitted with a damper similar to car suspension. Tests indicate load bearing to the foot is reduced by approximately 10% with each step thereby reducing peak shock from passing up the body. The Prestons were developed to help prevent repetative (overuse) injuries in recreational runners. The prototype shoes are currently exhibited at the Royal Academy’s Summer Science Exhibition. There are also plans to make the Preston commercially available though Intersport later this year.
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) are the regulatory body responsible for the overseeing the sport and currently recognize more than 160 different kinds of tennis courts, including surfaces made of carpet, clay, gravel, concrete, wood, asphalt, and fake grass. Wimbledon remains the only Grand Slam event played on grass courts all others are clay and of a wide variety. According to the 2013 Grand Slam Wimbledon green keepers the London courts have had the same expert care as previous years yet there has been a significant number of falls in the early stages of the competition. No one is quite sure yet why this has occurred and many theories have been proffered. One contributory factor may be the player’s choice of footwear and their preference for clay style tennis shoes is inappropriate.
The treads on modern tennis shoes originated in 1939 when Dunlop Volley introduced herringbone soles. Australian doubles tennis champion, Adrian Quist noticed when visiting America boating shoes had unusual sole patterns to prevent slippage on wet surfaces.
He recognised using similar tread patterns on tennis shoes for grass courts would be an advantage. Eventually on return to Australia he convinced Dunlop to put a herring bone tread sole onto a canvas tennis shoes. Herribone treads allow for optimal lateral movements, ensuring the user does not slip when making quick side-to-side movements. The function of ridged patterns on the sole of shoes is to increase traction which helps weightbearing stability. This is critical on soft and wet surfaces when a tennis player is weightbearing on one foot while turn their body. In a time before synthetic polymers, ridged patterns made of rubber would be the only means of performance enhancement. The Dunlop Volley was introduced in 1939 and sold more than 24-million pairs as the evergreen of tennis shoes. By the eighties the popular Dunlop Volley tennis shoes were replaced by footwear from the emerging sports companies like Nike and adidas. Outsole designs began to incorporate manufactures logos and or fashion dashes distinctive to the makers. As clay replaced grass manufacturers emphasised durability with tennis shoes more able to endure the rigors of quick stops and starts, short sprints, and frequent lateral movements on hard courts. The vast majority of social tennis is played on hard courts (concrete) where treads are still important but less critical than might be on lush grass surfaces. Modern tennis shoes for soft courts (clay and grass) are primarily designed with non-damaging traction in mind.
Clay court shoes still have herringbone style but the ridges sit closer to prevent damaging the court and stop clay clogging them up. Playing on a lush grass surface with small ridges would increase the risk of slippage. Many professional soccer player experience similar lack of control due to inappropriate boots for conditions. Many attribute this to the increase of signature boots and sponsored boot contracts which place greater commercial emphasis on being seen in the shoes as opposed to fit for purpose. Foot for thought.