US 20060179549 A1
The present invention is generally directed to improved formfitting protective footwear generally comprising a protective sheath that envelops all or a portion of the foot from the ankle forward, and which includes fasteners which allow the user to adjust the footwear to comfortably fit his or her foot. In all embodiments, the formfitting protective footwear apparatus of the present invention surrounds the forefoot about the instep and arch and extends forward to protect at least the ball of the foot.
1. Formfitting footwear comprising:
a protective sleeve to be worn on a human foot comprising an inner portion and an outer portion;
toe openings disposed in said sleeve;
protective material secured to the inner portion of said sleeve;
a footpad secured to said outer portion of said sleeve, wherein said protective material and said footpad are positioned in locations whereby they are underneath and protect a ball of said human's foot when inserted in said sleeve; and
fasteners on said protective sleeve for adjustably securing said footwear to the foot.
2. The footwear of
3. The footwear of
4. The footwear of
5. The footwear of
6. The footwear of
7. The footwear of
8. The footpad of
9. Formfitting footwear comprising:
a protective sleeve to be worn on a human foot;
toe openings disposed in said sleeve;
a protective material disposed adjacent to said toe openings;
a footpad disposed on said protective material, wherein said protective material and said footpad are positioned on said sleeve in locations whereby they are underneath and protect a ball of said human's foot when inserted in said sleeve; and
fasteners on said protective sleeve for adjustably securing said footwear to the foot.
This patent application is a continuation-in-part of the following co-pending patent applications: U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/557,029, filed Apr. 20, 2000, and U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/958,517, filed Oct. 5, 2004.
The present invention relates to adjustable formfitting protective footwear generally comprising a protective sheath that envelops all or a portion of the foot from the ankle forward, and which includes fasteners which allow the user to adjust the footwear to comfortably fit his or her foot. The footwear can be worn during activities which are performed with bare feet and which require traction and/or protection from skin burns and tears, including, for example, modern dance, Pilates, yoga and martial arts.
The need for protective and functional footwear intended for specific applications is well-known. Just as basketball and football place different demands on the human foot and thus require different footwear, different forms of dance also require specialized footwear. For example, ballet requires specially designed slippers and toe shoes, jazz dance requires specially designed character shoes, and tap dance requires specially modified tap shoes.
The dance style known as, modern dance requires rapid, abrupt, and complex shifts in body position, center of gravity, directional momentum and weight distribution and is often danced barefoot. Included in these movements are forceful turns, spins, stops and other movements that can cause friction burns, tearing, slivers, blisters and other foot problems. In addition, modern dancers—like other dancers—risk serious injury if their foot should slip on the dance floor or if they should turn their ankle. However, given the aesthetic requirements of their art, modern dancers often opt to dance barefoot and tolerate the foot discomfort and injuries associated therewith.
Earlier, unsuccessful attempts at providing footwear for barefoot dancers included thongs wrapped around the foot and/or tying cut nylon stockings to the foot. Some modern dancers wear a “sole” that is secured to the foot by means of an ankle strap and toe loops. However, because this sole is not securely bound to the sole of the foot, severe tearing of the skin is common, particularly between the great and index toes. As a result, most modem dancers are reluctant to use this type of footwear.
Co-pending patent applications Ser. Nos. 09/557,229 and 10/958,517, whose disclosures are incorporated-by-reference in their entirety, disclose various embodiments of footwear for dancers which addresses at least some of the problems associated with the prior art.
It is an object of the various embodiments disclosed herein to provide adjustable formfitting protective footwear for dancers and other barefoot athletes such as practitioners of Pilates, yoga and martial arts, using fasteners to secure the footwear to the wearer's foot. In particular, the various embodiments disclosed herein generally relate to adjustable formfitting footwear for barefoot athletes which in one embodiment comprises: a protective sleeve to be worn on a human foot comprising an inner portion and an outer portion; toe openings disposed in the sleeve; protective material secured to the inner portion of the sleeve; a footpad secured to the outer portion of the sleeve, wherein the protective material and the footpad are positioned in locations whereby they are underneath and protect the ball of the human's foot when inserted in the sleeve; and fasteners on the protective sleeve for adjustably securing the footwear to the foot.
In another embodiment, the formfitting footwear comprises: a protective sleeve to be worn on a human foot; toe openings disposed in the sleeve; a protective material disposed adjacent to the toe openings; and a footpad disposed on the protective material, wherein the protective material and the footpad are positioned on the sleeve in locations whereby they are underneath and protect the ball of the human's foot when inserted in the sleeve; and fasteners on the protective sleeve for adjustably securing the footwear to the foot.
Further objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent from the description of the drawings and the invention, which follow.
The above and related objects, features and advantages of the disclosed footwear will be more fully understood with reference to the following detailed description of the preferred, albeit illustrative, embodiments of the present invention when considered in conjunction with the accompanying figures, wherein:
FIGS. 6A-B show plan and bottom views of the footwear assembled using the components of
The present invention is directed to improved formfitting footwear for barefoot activities, such as modern dance, yoga, Pilates and martial arts, which can be adjusted about a user's foot through the use of male and female fasteners, including, for example, Velcro®, laces, snaps, buttons and hooks, to name a few. Before describing the adjustable features of this footwear, the basic assembly of the footwear is first described. As will be seen, the footwear can be assembled according to various configurations, each of which can include fasteners for adjusting the footwear.
As shown in
Preferably, element 32 is made from material having characteristics resistant to tearing in the areas adjacent to or between toe holes 33 during intensive use, while at the same time having properties which provide sufficient comfort to the foot, and unlikely to induce blistering or tearing of the skin adjacent to or between the toes. For example, element 32 could be made from any one or more of soft leather, neoprene or a Lycra containing knit, or woven fabric, to name a few. Third element 42 is a lower elasticized material having both a first edge 44 and a second edge 48 disposed perpendicularly to side edges 46 and 46′. Finally, fourth element 52 is a non-elasticized material suitable for use as a pad capable of protecting the ball of the foot, while not inhibiting the movement of the wearer.
In various embodiments, fourth element 52 may be constructed of any suitable material which provides traction, including, for example, smooth leather, suede leather, synthetic leather, moldable polymers and elastomers, and other similar suitable materials. Additionally, fourth element 52 may optionally be textured by dimpling, forming ridges therein, forming grooves therein, or other means. Such textures would serve to provide enhanced traction between fourth element 52 and flat surface, such as a floor.
To assemble the embodiment of
It is noted that the foregoing assembly steps may be performed in different sequences, provided that the finished article is properly constructed to withstand intensive use. Additionally, it is noted that although the second element 32 and fourth element 52 are described as separate elements, one skilled in the art would understand that this embodiment can be modified such that these elements are combined as a single construction.
In the embodiment shown in
Optionally, edge 39 and 39′ of the first and third elements 22 and 42 are not stitched together, but rather include mating fasteners 43, 43′, such as, for example, Velcro®, laces and loops, hooks and clips, snaps and buttons, to name a few. The remaining edges of the elements are stitched together. In this regard, edges 36 and 37 are stitched together, edges 36′ and 37′ are stitched together and edges 41 and 41′ are stitched together. Once assembled, the footwear is turned inside out, so that the second element 32 is on the interior of the footwear and fourth element 52 is on the exterior, wherein elements 32 and 52 are positioned underneath and protect the ball of wearer's foot when inserted therein, as shown if
FIGS. 7A-B show the components of another embodiment of the present invention. As shown in
The material 100 can optionally include mating fasteners 107 and 107′ adjacent to ends 106 and 106′, as shown in phantom in
The ground-contact layer 218 is preferably made of a durable material that provides adequate friction with the ground surface, including smooth leather, suede leather, synthetic leather, moldable polymers, elastomers and synthetic rubber materials, such as neoprene. The ground-contact layer 218 may also be textured to enhance traction, such as by forming ridges, grooves and/or dimplings in the outer surface of the ground-contact layer 218. The thickness of the ground-contact layer 218 is preferably in the range of about 0.25 mm to about 2.0 mm.
The shock-absorbing and/or cushioning layer 220 is preferably placed between the ground-contact layer 218 and the optional moisture-absorbing layer 222. Depending on the structure and materials used, the shock-absorbing and/or cushioning layer 220 has the ability to cushion and/or absorb forces exerted on the wearer's feet. The shock-absorbing and/or cushioning layer 220 assists in reducing foot pain and injury. Suitable materials for the shock-absorbing and/or cushioning layer 220 include foam materials, such as, for example, polyurethane foam, hydrophilic urethane foam, polyethylene foam, closed cell foams, open cell foams, ethylene propylene rubber (EPDM), or gel-like materials, such as, non-silicon polymer gel. The thickness of the shock-absorbing layer 18 is preferably in the range of about 0.25 mm to about 3.0 mm. If desired, the shock-absorbing and moisture or wicking layer may be combined to form a single construction.
The moisture-absorbing or wicking layer 222 is preferably placed closest to the wearer's foot to enhance sweat absorption capability. The moisture-absorbing layer is an optional layer, and thus, in other exemplary embodiments of the invention, the pad 216 may only include the ground-contact layer 218 and the shock-absorbing layer 220, or the ground-contact layer 218 only. The moisture absorbing layer 222 is preferably made of materials such as, for example, Ultralore® or nylon and polyester fabrics made with up to 50% load of ReFresh fibers, or treated with moisture wicking finishes and has a thickness in the range of about 0.25 mm to about 2.0 mm. If desired, the shock-absorbing and moisture or wicking layer may be combined to form a single construction.
The elastic piece 212 is preferably in a band shape and is attached to the end of the sleeve 210 furthest from the wearer's toes. The elastic piece 212 is attached to the sleeve 210 by sewing and/or adhesive and is made of, for example, woven or knit elastic.
In a method of forming the protective footwear according to an exemplary embodiment of the invention, the sleeve 210 is first formed from a Lycra sheet in a spread out configuration as shown in the embodiments of
In each of the embodiments shown in
To complete assembly of the sleeve 210, the upper portion 211 is folded over the lower portion 213, as shown in
The fasteners 251 and 253 allow the wearer to close and adjust the sleeve 210 according to the size of their foot. In this regard, once inserted on the wearer's foot, the fasteners 251, 253 are secured together about the foot and can be adjusted as needed. Additionally, for this embodiment, it is possible to assemble the footwear without the moisture absorbing layer 222, and/or the shock absorbing and/or cushioning layer 220 such that the pad includes the ground contact layer 218 only. Moreover, although the fasteners 251 and 253 are located on the bottom of the foot when worn, it is possible to modify the design of the footwear such that the fasteners are located on the top side of the footwear, if desired. In each of the embodiments described herein, the pad 216 is located in a position where it will be underneath and protect the ball of the foot when the footwear is worn.
Top portion 309 is approximately the same width as the pad 305, as shown in
In operation, the wearer inserts his or her foot in the pocket between top portion 309 and bottom portion 307, with the toes extending through toe holes 310. Next, the wearer folds the rectangular portions 311 over the top of his or her foot and secures the fasteners 321, 323 to fastener 337. The wearer can adjust the fastener so until a comfortable fit is achieved, and the pad 305 is located in a position which is underneath and protects the ball of the wearer's foot.
It is noted that for the embodiments shown in
It should be appreciated that the protective footwear according to various exemplary embodiments of the invention may be made by any other suitable process, such as one in which the sleeve with the toe holes are formed as a unitary construction using conventional molding processes. Alternatively, the upper and lower portions of the sleeve may be two entirely separate pieces which are later sewn together. Soft leather, synthetic leather or any other suitable materials may be used so that the footpad is constructed of one layer that is either sewn onto the sleeve 210 or sewn on to a cutout area 234 where the inner surface of the footpad that makes contact with the skin serves as the protective layer and the opposite side serves as the ground contact layer.
It is understood that the presently claimed invention may be embodied in other specified forms without departing from the spirit or essential characteristics thereof. The present embodiments are therefore to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive, and all changes which come within the meaning and range or equivalency of the claims are therefore intended to be embraced therein.