Sports Shoe Technology

For decades technology has been used to create the ultimate sports shoe, to enhance the performance of athletes, sportsmen and sportswomen. The history and development of sports shoe technology has been a competitive one, much like that of the actual wearers of the shoe. Furthermore, sports shoe technology and brands have been at the centre of multi-million dollar deals, involving athlete endorsement, sponsorships and sports advertising. This article examines the advancements in technology used by sports shoe manufactures and how it affected both athlete performance and the consumer market.

Early Sports Shoe Technology

With the popularity of running in the 18th century came the need for a light weight shoe that could easily grip the ground. In 1832 Wait Webster patented a technique that attached rubber soles to the soles of boots and shoes. In 1860 a croquet shoe with a canvas upper fastened with laces was mass produced. These rubber-soled plimsolls become especially popular with children and become the standard sport shoes worn in PE and sports classes in European schools.

Adidas Sports Shoe Technology

It is a common belief that the spiked sport shoe is a fairly modern innovation yet this sports shoe technology was first developed in 1852 by the UK shoe manufacturer Boulton (now Reebok) and mass produced in sports shoes in 1894. The founder of the company was himself a sportsman and needed to develop a shoe that would increase his speed. In 1925 a company called Adi Dassler, now Adidas, developed sports shoes with spikes forged by hand for running varying distances. They were also praised with developing sports shoes with the lightest and strongest materials that were available at the time. Three side strips appeared on the side of the shoe for added support in 1949, giving Adidas it trademark stripes.

Sports Shoe Technology Materials

The 1970’s saw the development of some of the more modern materials used in sports shoe technology today. The manmade organic fibre Kevler was introduced to sports shoes manufacturing at it was ten times stronger than leather whilst having a low weight. Polyurethane was a material that had the elasticity of rubber but the durability of metal. In 1972 the waffle soles were introduced to Nike shoes. Whilst observing the patterns of a waffle iron, Bill Bowerman realised their useful application in sports shoes. He made a  rubber mould using his waffle iron, glued it to a pair of shoes and gave them to athletes to test, who in turn praised the innovation.

In 1979 the Nike air bubble sports shoe technology was first introduced, which used an air filled pocket in the sole of the shoe to absorb shock. The shoe was named Tailwind and formed the basis of Nike’s air sneakers today. Sport shoe technology will continue to advance, helping to push athletes to extreme limits. Many of the most advanced sport shoes of today are even inserted with microchips to monitor athlete performance. With millions of dollars of resting on athlete performance, it’s an industry that will not slow down soon.

Penny Munroe is an avid writer in branding and marketing with a recent focus on sports due to the Olympic games. Her writing aims to encompass a range of sports goods, from specialised football boots to the modest accessory hanger for sports equipment.