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The Evolution Of The Athletic Shoe

1434 words - 6 pages

The foot is one of the most fascinating parts of the human body. The foot alone contains 26 bones, connected by 33 joints, 107 ligaments, and 19 muscles ("Foot Facts: Human Feet Anatomy Information and Problems."). Each one of them performs a special task, each has a unique assignment to perform in order for a person’s utmost benefit of the individual to walk, run, dance, or perform another task that they might have in front of them. This intricate mechanism, which has been refined over years of evolution nearly to perfection in every capacity in which humans move about, is far from indestructible however. There are numerous ailments that befall the human foot including arthritis, bunions, tarsal tunnel, hammertoe, and everyday blisters and bruises, not to mention broken or fractured bones. These plights are often occurring, as one in every six people has a major foot problem, such as those just listed ("Foot Facts: Human Feet Anatomy Information and Problems."). These problems are magnified when one competes at a highly intense level in sports that are almost entirely dependant on the function of the legs and feet. So how does an athlete maintain the health of these precious appendages of the body? To find the answer we go back to 18th century England, where the evolution of the modern-day athletic shoe begins (Kippen, par.1() Shoes have taken different forms throughout history. From sandals used by those in the Middle East and Egypt, to the boots of Canadians and Alaskans, to people in Africa and the Greek Olympians who wore no shoes at all, the variety of foot protection is varied. For the most part, shoes were a basic slab of wood or leather in this era of time. Some would even add moss to the soles and the inside of the shoes for comfort (Running Shoes A History). In England, shoemakers first came up with a technique, using mainly leather materials, to create the “development of a lightweight shoe which could grip the ground (Kippen par.2).” Unfortunately, while these shoes were feather-light, they weren’t long-lasting or even water resistant. They were also far from comfortable. In fact, shoes were not specifically made to fit the left or right foot until the turn of the 19th century ("Running Shoes A History.") Shoes were exclusively handmade and difficult to produce in large quantities, let alone the fact of adding cushion as a luxury. The development of rubber helped reduce the problems of durability and comfort. In 1832, Wait Webster created and patented “a process whereby rubber soles could be attracted to the shoes and boots (Kippen, par.2) ”. The innovative Charles Goodyear added to this breakthrough by developing “vulcanized rubber” the “heating up of rubber and addition of sulfur to add strength and flexibility (“Running Shoes A History”). Along with this new high-end rubber bottom part, the upper portion was also advanced during the 1800’s. The invention of the sewing machine in the 1860’s enabled...

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