Tuesday, 2 July 2013

UCLan pioneers new running shoes

A revolutionary running shoe invented by UCLan's Professor Jim Richards is one of the highlights of the Royal Society's Summer Science Exhibition 2013.

The shoes, created to try and reduce injuries caused by pavement jogging, feature a series of miniature pocket springs based on mattress bedsprings that are designed to absorb some of the shock of repeatedly hitting hard ground.

Conventional running shoes have layers of foam or gel to lessen the impact but this material does little or nothing in terms of adding springiness to the shoe’s sole.

"If you had a car suspension with just a damper and no spring in it then you’d have a very bumpy ride," said Professor Richards.

"Therefore having a shoe that incorporates both provides a much improved shock-absorbing system compared with existing technology."

Most injuries caused by running are due to the impact of the foot hitting hard ground, which can cause knee pain, shin splints and small stress fractures. Tiny pocket springs, which operate individually, can lessen the impact rate that causes injury by 10 per cent, Professor Richards said.

"Over a given year, injury affects over 70 per cent of recreational runners. This is a huge problem. Even with all the latest advances of running shoes we are still getting a high injury rate," he said.

"What we wanted was pocket-spring mattresses. Most running shoes have a bit of foam or gel which means it’s all damper and no springs. We’ve added micro-springs because they significantly reduce loading rate, which causes injury."

The lightweight springs were made by Leeds mattress company Harrison Spinks, which Professor Richards said was one of the few companies in the world capable of making pocket springs small enough to fit inside a running shoe’s sole.

The shoes go on sale later this year under the brand name "the Preston" and will not cost significantly more than existing trainers.

For more details about UCLan's Sports research exhibit please take a look at:

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