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SPORT SHOE AND SUPPORT SYSTEM
This application is a continuation of application Ser. No. 07/865,979, filed Apr. 9, 1992, now abandoned. 5
This invention relates generally to sport shoes. Specifically, the relates to an orthotic sport shoe which provides optimum flexibility and support to the wearer. 10
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Typically, a new pair of sport shoes are relatively stiff by virtue of the material of which the soles or shoe upper are comprise, or a combination of both. Thus, an 15 athlete must "break in" the region of the shoe which must flex when a normal heel-to-toe step is token. During the break-in period, the new sport shoe may cause the athlete discomfort and often severe pain in day-today running activities. In some instances, such discom- 20 fort and pain could result in adverse secondly effects throughout the athlete's legs and body due to voluntary and/or involuntary variations in the normal optimum gate of the athlete to alleviate the discomfort.
In an attempt to overcome the shortcomings associ- 25 ate with breaking in recreational shoes, various configurations of relief grooves have been provided in the bottom of the sole portion of the shoe. Such relief grooves generally extend transversely from the lateral side of the shoe to the medial side of the shoe in the 30 region which flexes while taking a step. While the prior art relief grooves provide some increased flexibility in the region of concern, the degree to which the flexibility is increased is limited by the type of material used, the geometry of the groove and the thickness of the 35 sole. Further, the prior art grooves are not ergonomically designed, but merely positioned in the general region of flexure. Illustrative is the shoe disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,914,838.
In the noted patent, a sport shoe is disclosed which 40 employs a plurality of straight ridges both on the interior surface and the exterior surface of the sole in the region of the metatarsal joints. Between each ridge is a groove of reduced thickness relative to the base of the shoe which gives when the runner impacts the ground 45 on the ball of his foot. The ridges do not however provide for optimum flexibility. Indeed, the shoe is designed for predetermined flexure to reduce the likelihood that the athlete will suffer hyperflexure of the great toe metatarsal joint, commonly referred to as 50 "turf-toe".
Sport shoes, while allowing for some degree of flexibility, must also provide positive support for the athlete while running for extended periods of time and at times during rapid and sudden changes of direction, and also 55 be of light weight construction to minimize fatigue. These requirements generally operate at cross purposes, as the lighter weight fabrics typically used in athletic shoe uppers cannot provide adequate support. Thus during motion, the wearer's foot tends to slide about in 60 the shoe upper above the sole.
In laced shoes, the laces may be pulled tightly to locally draw the shoe about the wearer's foot to enhance support, but transverse movement of the heel and toe portions of the foot in the shoe is typically not ade- 65 quately restricted. Rigid external shoe counters have been provided in athletic shoes in attempts to reduce transverse movement of the wearer's heel. Illustrative
are the heel counters disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,244,504; 2,255,877 and 4,288,929. Axial movement also occurs, particularly if the wearer's heel is not held against the rear of the upper when the laces are tightened.
Athletes in some sports have addressed this problem by using overly long shoe laces with the ends wrapped about the shoe, e.g., around the ankle or beneath the sole, to extend the localized effect of the laces to more tightly secure the shoe to the foot in the laced area. A number of patents discuss shoes with grommets, loops or extra straps to provide this effect. Illustrative are U.S. Pat. Nos. 859,382; 752,173; 2,806,300; 3,138,880; 4,245,408 and 4,510,701.
In U.S. Pat. No. 4,510,701 a laced athletic shoe is disclosed which employs a cup-form counter having eyelets defined in its forwardly extending surfaces adapted to receive the ends of the shoe laces extending from the laced portion of the shoe. The cup-form counter extends about the heel portion of the shoe upper along the rear insides of the upper and also below the wearer's heel about the sole. However, when the laces are drawn tightly, the counter cupping the wearer's heel through the upper is merely drawn toward the lace portion snugging the shoe about the bottom of the wearer's heel. The counter does not provide any significant support to the upper heel or tendon areas.
Arch support is another area of concern in athletic footwear. Various removable foot supports and insoles have been employed to enhance the arch support of a shoe. Illustrative are U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,686,779 and 2,865,097. The disclosed insoles and foot support devices of the noted patents do not, however, provide adjustable degrees of support and do not lift the arch in addition to supporting it. U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,649,939 and 4,313,433 describe straps secured to the shoe at one end under the foot which wrap around the shoe externally and are removably attached to the external face of the upper to provide support to the ankle or foot. Although the degree of support provided by each of these devices can be adjusted by wrapping the straps more tightly or loosely, the straps are not an integral part of the shoe's lacing system. Thus, the overall support of a shoe employing the noted straps would not be balanced.
In U.S. Pat. No. 4,926,569 a shoe is disclosed which employs an arch support device that operates under tension to lift the wearer's arch. The device includes a single strap of elastic material provided with means to removably attach the strap at one end to the sole in the lateral arch region and attach the strap at its other end to the upper by means of the lacing structure of the shoe such that the strap is held in tension when the foot of the wearer is in the shoe thereby supporting the arch. This system also has drawbacks. First, and most significantly, the single strap system produces an adverse twisting or rotating motion (i.e., torque) about the wearer's foot and ankle. This undesirable torsion force must be continuously countered by the athlete during each successive step and, if not adequately countered, could cause serious injury to the athlete. Second, as a result of the torque produced by the strap and lack of the heel support, the system does not provide balanced support.
It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a highly flexible, yet supportive, sport shoe which enhances both wearer comfort and shoe performance, and virtually eliminates shoe break-in time.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a sport shoe having a sole system which provides
optimum flexibility in the metatarsal and phalanges regions of the wearer's foot during walking or running activities.
It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a sport shoe with a balanced support system 5 about the wearer's foot.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The disclosed sport shoe substantially reduces or eliminates the aforementioned disadvantages and short- 10 comings associated with the prior art. The sport shoe is highly flexible, yet supportive, enhancing both wearer comfort and shoe performance.
The sport shoe of the present invention generally comprises a shoe upper which is adapted to receive and 15 confine a wearer's foot, midsole and outsole members, an adjustable heel counter, lacing means for securing the shoe to the wearer's foot and a novel three-point support system. According to the invention, the midsole member is affixed to the shoe upper and includes an 20 arcuate metatarsal groove extending substantially transverse the longitudinal axis of the midsole on at least one of the top and bottom surfaces thereof generally coincident with the metatarsal-phalangeal joints of the wearer's foot and a phalanges groove extending transverse 25 the longitudinal axis of the midsole on at least one of the top and bottom surfaces thereof generally coincident with the interphalangeal joints of the wearer's foot to permit optimum flexure of the metatarsal-phalangeal and interphalangeal joints. The outsole is affixed to the 30 midsole member and includes a metatarsal gap between the rearward heel portion and forefoot portion of the outsole. The metatarsal gap is generally coincident with the metatarsal groove of the midsole member when affixed thereto. The outsole member also includes a 35 phalanges gap which is generally coincident with the phalanges groove of the midsole member when affixed thereto. The midsole and outsole members thus provide optimum flexibility in the metatarsal and phalanges regions of the wearer's foot. 40
The securing means of the sport shoe includes lacing members which are affixed to the shoe upper such that the lacing engaging eyelets, which are positioned along the periphery of the lacing members, are positioned in respective planes which are generally parallel to the 45 longitudinal axis of the shoe.
The sport shoe of the present invention additionally includes a three-point support system comprising a flexible strap which is removably attached to the upper portion of the adjustable heel counter and to each side 50 of the sport shoe at an intermediate connecting portion proximate the arch of the wearer's foot. The support strap includes a plurality of eyelets affixed to each end of the strap proximate the lacing member eyelets, whereby when the laces of the sport shoe are drawn 55 tightly through the lacing member eyelets and the strap eyelets, the upper portion of the heel counter is drawn against the rear and side portions of the wearer's foot providing support and stability to the wearer's heel and achilles tendon and the intermediate connecting por- 60 tions are drawn against the wear's arch providing support thereto. The three-point support system thus provides a balanced support system about the wearer's foot.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS 65
The above and other objects of the present invention will become apparent, as will a better understanding of
the concepts underlying the present invention, by reference to the description which follows when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a side view of the sport shoe according to the invention;
FIG. 2 is a side view of the sport shoe upper according to the invention;
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the sport shoe adjustable drawbridge heel counter according to the invention;
FIG. 4 is a side view of the sport shoe upper illustrating the placement of the adjustable drawbridge heel counter, according to the invention.
FIG. 5A and 5B are perspective views of a conventional sport shoe insole;
FIG. 6A is a side view of the sport shoe midsole member according to the invention;
FIG. 6B is a bottom plan view of the sport shoe midsole member according to the invention;
FIG. 7A is a side view of the sport shoe outsole member according to the invention;
FIG. 7B is a bottom plan view of the sport shoe outsole member according to the invention; and
FIG. 8 is a representation of the support relationship of the heel counter and arch support to the wearer's foot according to the invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE
Referring to FIG. 1, the sport shoe 1 comprises a shoe upper 10, a molded midsole member 30, a molded outsole member 40, an adjustable drawbridge heel counter 60, a novel three-point support system 80 and lacing means.
FIG. 1 includes a phantom illustration of the bone structure of the right foot 100. The metatarsal 101 and phalanges (toes) 102 bones are located on the forward portion of the foot 100. The metatarsal 101 and phalanges 102 bones are generally referred to as the first, second, third, fourth and fifth metatarsal 101 or phalanges 102 bones, respectively, moving from the medial (inside) side to the lateral (outside) side of the foot 100. Between the respective metatarsal 101 and phalanges 102 bones are joints, commonly referred to as metatarsal-phalangeal joints 103. In addition, the phalanges 102 include a plurality of interphalangeal joints 104.
The heel of the foot 100 is formed with the calcaneus bone 108 which is the largest of the tarsal bones. The calcaneus bone 108 articulates with the talus 107 and the navicular 106. The navicular 106 articulates with the cuneiform bones 105, which articulate with the base or distal end of the metatarsal bones 101.
In the preferred embodiment, illustrated in FIG. 2, the shoe upper 10 is adapted to receive a wearer's foot 2 and primarily comprises a toe portion 11, a vamp portion 12 and a rear portion 13. Each portion 11,12,13 is integrally connected by conventional stitching means. However, key to the assembled (i.e., interconnected) structure of the shoe upper 10 is that the line 14 defining the mating edges of the toe portion 11 and the vamp portion 12 is generally arcuate and coincident with the metatarsal phalangeal joints of the wearer's foot to enhance flexibility of the shoe upper 10.
As will be recognized by one skilled in the art, the shoe upper 10 may be constructed of various conventional light-weight material, such as nylon, canvas, leather or LYCRA®. In the preferred embodiment, the shoe upper 10 is constructed out of conventional