The feet are a very important but vulnerable part of the body with different sports putting specific demands on them. The shoes on display demonstrate how plastics can provide the specific properties required to protect the foot and provide the grip and flexibility needed in some diverse activities.
The triathlon sees the athlete competing in a race of three sports; swimming, running, and cycling. Shimano’s SH TR31 shoes (1) are an entry level cycle shoe with triathlon specific features. At the transition point, from swimming to cycling, the shoe is attached to the bike pedal and the rider moves off with their feet on top of, instead of inside, the shoe and so additional rubber protection on the heel is needed to prevent damage to the shoes. The shoe can then be easily pulled onto the foot with one hand using the loop on the back of the heel. The soft, seamless lining helps to prevent chafing on bare, wet feet, whilst the draining holes in the sole along with the mesh panels on the side provide additional ventilation helping to dry the foot quickly for increased comfort.
The Lotto Zhero Gravity football boots (2) are the first laceless football boots to be manufactured. The special lightweight, water repellent, anti-shock microfibre upper has pro-fit technology to ensure perfect fit to the shape of the foot and allow maximum sensitivity in controlling the ball. The interchangeable insoles have a special Poron® anti-shock insert to improve shoe fit. Poron® is a breathable material with an open cell structure that has the ability to absorb moisture from the active foot keeping the shoe and the foot dry. The material offers more shock absorption than other materials giving good support to the joints all the way up the leg.
The microfibre material that the Anniel Rhythmic Gymnastics shoes or toe slippers (3) are made of wicks moisture away from the skin helping to keep the gymnast’s foot dry and healthy. These shoes are worn to increase the effectiveness of the athlete’s spinning movements and prevent damage to the skin.
Wrestlers rely heavily on the ability to grip the floor with their feet, they need to twist and turn with assured flexibility. The Adidas® Vaporspeed II (4), like all wrestling shoes, mimic the barefoot but provide increased traction and ankle support. These fully synthetic shoes have a split sole, allowing more twist in the foot, and a moulded heel counter which provides extra support.
The injection moulded structure in the Adidas® Adipower shoes (5) provides a strong, solid foundation for the weightlifter to base their effort.
When windsurfing, a surfer needs to be sure of a good grounding on the board, the rubberised sole of the Billabong boot (6) provides added grip giving confidence of not slipping. The neoprene upper keeps the foot warm and dry. This material is highly flexible, has good insulating properties, and has good resistance to damage caused by flexing and twisting and is resistant to degradation from the sun, making it the ideal material for the water sports.
The Nike Zoom Hyperdunk Basketball shoes (7) have nylon Flywire bundles at the mid foot for strong yet lightweight support as the basketball player changes direction on the court. The midsole has an ultra-lightweight, super-strong glass-reinforced shank that wraps up the sides of the foot and covers a wide area along the bottom for firm, yet flexible stability.