Benessere.com | dove l'informazione diventa benessere
March 2017
Fitness and sport
Print this
You are here:   en.benessere.com / Fitness and sport / Running / Shoes

SHOES FOR SPORT


History

More than 10,000 years ago mankind realised that it was necessary to protect the feet, and above all when hunting. The discovery of this knowledge occurred in North America, at the beginning of the 1940s, when archaeologists found strange footwear in caves which had bark soles and which were plaited and laced up at the front to allow for movement. There was also a flap at the front which guaranteed the protection of the toes when running.
Following this, the most common material to make shoes out of then became leather or vegetable derived materials like moss or wool, which were used mostly to make soles softer.

During the first few Olympic games, the athletes could compete in all events wearing shoes made by shoemakers, however the great champions won races like the Dolichos (4/5km race) with bare feet. Footwear then slowly continued to develop over the next centuries and, in 1736, whilst exploring the Amazon, the European colonists found that the Indians covered their feet with a sap which came from the rubber tree, which they dried out on a fire, allowing the rubber to solidify and make a protective layer.
One century later, in 1832 in America, Wait Webster patented the first rubber sole, whilst, in 1839, it was Charles Goodyear who discovered the revolutionary method of increasing the resistance of rubber; the ‘vulcanisation’ process.

In 1850, the English made the first sporting shoe with a rubber sole and canvas upper. This shoe was called the plimsoll because it had a strip of white rubber on the side that vaguely resembled the waterline that was painted on to the broadsides of boats to show how much weight it could carry (this was Samuel Plimsoll’s idea). Once transported to America, these shoes were saddled with the nickname ‘Sneakers’. In the 20th century sports shoes then evolved astonishingly: every sporting event had its own type of trainer (just think about athletics and all the different types of shoes made precisely for each event). Following this, and due to an increase in participants, the technical side to footwear had to be developed: in the 1980s, data from America claimed that approximately 30 million people practised jogging regularly, thus there were many cases of people getting injured from training, causing numerous companies in sports sector to open up research centres with the aim of developing better footwear regarding the material and the technology used in production.

Today, sporting footwear creates trends and influences fashion, individual tastes and the production of normal footwear.
All you have to do is go in to a shop to see the huge variety of available models for each category which are made up of a large range of accessories, cushioning systems and colours.

Shoes

Modern footwear is usually made with layers of nylon uppers, so as to resist the stretching of the material on the outside, and a perforated fabric which allows heat to escape from the inside of the shoe. All the materials inside shoes are soft so they are as comfortable as possible.

 

Shoes are made in various shapes according to the shape of feet and the size of the arch. For example, there are shoes that compliment flat feet but it is also possible to choose shoes that are curved or semi-curved. The soles of sport shoes are made up of a mixture of mid-sole and grip. Mid-sole is the part of the shoe that is between the upper and the grip.
Usually, shoes are made in EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) or PU (polyurethane) with, in some cases, the addition of a supplementary, softening system, which also improves the durability and stability of the shoe. Every company has patented different softening systems which are the results of precise research carried out in biomechanic laboratories.
The grip is the part of the shoe that directly touches the ground and it is subject to abrasion, flexion and traction. Usually the grip is made out of carbon rubber as it is very resistant and durable.
The design of the grip varies according to the shoes’ usage: smooth, or almost smooth, for asphalt; medium prominence for mixed terrain; large and thin blocks for off-road and cross-country.
Nowadays, modern footwear also includes ‘accessories’, like posterior stabilisers, which are usually in the shape of a horse-shoe and which make heel protection more rigid, they better control the movement of the heel and they make the shoe more stabile. 

 

Other accessories include products which help to correct how runners place their feet when running, for example, correcting pronation (moving the foot inwards) by removing the pressure, or at least some of it, which is placed on the Achilles tendons and ankles. Some manufacturers have even made shoes that have innersoles with two, different densities (highlighted by two different colours) in order to deal with this mechanical problem, as well as creating similar systems to deal with the opposing problem (supination; moving the foot outwards).

Shoes can generally be divided into 3 categories:

1. Cushioning shoes (weighing 300-400g):
These are the shoes one normally uses when training. They are made to resist hundreds of kilometres of running and they can be used on different terrains according to the grip they have. The particular structure of these shoes means they are very comfortable and protective, preventing the athlete from getting injured if they overload. There is also a sub-category in this category called ‘high stability’ and these trainers are for people who have problems with how they place their feet (hyperpronation or supination), thus this type of shoe is not recommended for people who do not suffer from the aforementioned problems.
2. Stability shoes (weighing 250-300g):
These are for athletes who are in training for resistance races; their training involves a lot of overload and covers long distances so the shoes offer cushioning as well as stability for the feet. Athletes who are slightly over weight, or who do not train very often, can use these shoes when racing as an alternative to spikes which, due to their special, technical characteristics, lack the right elements to absorb the impact of the foot on the ground. Many amateur runners can also use these shoes when taking part in marathons because they are light yet still protect the foot’s stability. This category also includes sub-categories to help those who have problems with placing their feet correctly.
3. Motion control (weighing less than 250g):

These are aimed at athletes who train a lot and who push themselves to the limit when running, thus taking advantage of the lightness of the shoes and their flexibility, abandoning, however, protection and stability so that the feet can push off better. These shoes are also used in training when practising push-offs as well as in races following good conditioning of the feet muscles. As far as marathons are concerned, these shoes should only be used by professional athletes as their athletic abilities mean they can benefit from this type of shoe and not run the risk of getting injured.

a3 technology was introduced into running shoes by Adidas but it can also be used for other sports. a3 is not just a cushioning system as it also offers three other benefits: cushioning, guiding of the foot so it is placed correctly and efficiency.

When running, you place 2-3 times your body weight on your feet every time they touch the ground. The softening element of a3 absorbs this force and slows down pronation movement (rotating the foot inwards), keeping the feet in the correct position. The two, guiding elements, one in a central position and the other in a lateral position, guide the feet so they are placed biomechanically correctly, whilst the stabilising element, which is convex in shape, is there to protect the foot from hyperpronation. The transition plate is made of a thermoplastic material which reduces the force of impact and optimises the transition between the heel and forefoot. 

Socks

When you buy running shoes, you also need to think about the socks you will wear with them. Companies who make sporting clothes also make socks that are especially made according to their use and the type of footwear they go with. Socks can be made from synthetic or natural materials, thick or thin fibres and they can be high or low rise, ensuring maximum comfort and a good fit. It is important to wear comfortable socks when trying on potential running shoes too, given that you will run for long periods time and cover many kilometres in them.
It also important to check that your socks do not have internal seams that are very evident as they can aggravate the feet and cause blisters due to excessive rubbing against the skin.
Socks made from very light, synthetic material have been made for ultra light shoes which guarantee a perfect fit, with no internal seems, ensuring that, whilst running, the athlete can really take advantage of the push-off, as well as the lightness of the shoes.

SHOES FOR SPORT

  • News of the month
    Discover all the latest news this month on Benessere.com

Copyright © 1999-2017 A.E.C. srl - ABOUT US