US20110308108A1 - Foot support article - Google Patents

Foot support article Download PDF

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Publication number
US20110308108A1
US20110308108A1 US13/111,704 US201113111704A US2011308108A1 US 20110308108 A1 US20110308108 A1 US 20110308108A1 US 201113111704 A US201113111704 A US 201113111704A US 2011308108 A1 US2011308108 A1 US 2011308108A1
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United States
Prior art keywords
foot
footwear
member
tensioning
article
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Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
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US13/111,704
Inventor
Jason Berns
Kevin Fisher
Derek Campbell
Alan Guyan
Michael White
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Under Armour Inc
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Under Armour Inc
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Priority to US35707510P priority Critical
Application filed by Under Armour Inc filed Critical Under Armour Inc
Priority to US13/111,704 priority patent/US20110308108A1/en
Priority claimed from US13/157,023 external-priority patent/US9402437B2/en
Assigned to UNDER ARMOUR, INC reassignment UNDER ARMOUR, INC ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: CAMPBELL, DEREK, GUYAN, ALAN, WHITE, MICHAEL, BERNS, JASON, FISHER, KEVIN
Publication of US20110308108A1 publication Critical patent/US20110308108A1/en
Priority claimed from CA 2776110 external-priority patent/CA2776110A1/en
Priority claimed from US14/013,684 external-priority patent/US9707119B2/en
Priority claimed from US15/619,894 external-priority patent/US20170273814A1/en
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B7/00Footwear with health or hygienic arrangements
    • A43B7/14Footwear with foot-supporting parts
    • A43B7/18Joint supports, e.g. instep supports
    • A43B7/20Ankle-joint supports or holders
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A43FOOTWEAR
    • A43BCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF FOOTWEAR; PARTS OF FOOTWEAR
    • A43B5/00Footwear for sporting purposes
    • A43B5/02Football boots or shoes, i.e. footwear for soccer, football or rugby

Abstract

An article of footwear includes an outer shell, an inner layer positioned inside of the outer shell, and at least one tensioning member engaging the inner layer. The inner layer configured to surround and conform to at least a portion of a human foot. The at least one tensioning member includes a portion that extends to the outside of the outer shell, wherein the portion that extends to the position that is outside of the outer shell is configured to enable tightening and loosening of the at least one tensioning member.

Description

    CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
  • The present application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/357,075 filed on Jun. 21, 2010, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.
  • TECHNICAL FIELD
  • The present disclosure relates generally to articles of footwear, and, more particularly, to articles of footwear having foot support members.
  • BACKGROUND
  • Ankle stability is a key and critical need from athletes and users who deal with lateral motion. There exists a need to provide a simple and lightweight cleat or shoe for athletes in order to offer better support for the foot and ankle region of a user wearing the cleat. Athletes and users take a tremendous amount of time and effort to tape and spat their feet, as well as add additional ankle and foot support braces. The ankle support systems add weight to a footwear system in which lightness is highly desired.
  • Injuries to the ankle are estimated to account for 15-20% of all musculoskeletal injuries, with approximately 85% being ankle sprains. The most common mechanism of injury is excessive Inversion, coupled with Plantar Flexion—approximately 75-80% involve the lateral ligament complex, primarily the Anterior Talofibular Ligament.
  • Typically, ankle sprains occur in 40-100 ms. Compared to average muscle latencies: reported latency of 69-85 ms, with approximately 90-110 ms to reach half max force, and an average of 250 ms to reach peak torque generation, the body is not able to adequately respond to an unexpected inversion. In comparison, during running, the stance phase lasts 200-250 ms, and the calf muscles are activated approximately 150 ms prior to heel impact, allowing the ankle adequate time to stabilize.
  • Players with a history of ankle sprains are 2-3 times more likely to have a recurrent injury than players without history of ankle injuries. Use of bracing or taping, as well as proprioceptive training have been shown to reduce the level of recurrence to the levels of players without history of injury.
  • In general, both bracing (lace-up and semi-rigid) and taping have been shown to reduce both the frequency and severity of ankle sprains during athletic activities. Semi-rigid braces tend to have a more positive effect for individuals with a history of ankle sprains than for athletes without history. Such lacing and taping methods currently used are time consuming and a waste of resources. Upon the completion of use, the user cuts off and discards the taping. This process increases the time and cost of providing support for the foot and ankle during athletic activities. Thus, improvements to support members that brace the foot and ankle of a person wearing the bracing are beneficial.
  • SUMMARY
  • In at least one embodiment, an article of footwear includes an outer shell, an inner layer positioned inside of the outer shell, and at least one tensioning member engaging the inner layer. The inner layer is configured to surround and conform to at least a portion of a human foot. The at least one tensioning member includes a portion that extends to a position that is outside of the outer shell, wherein the portion that extends to the position that is outside of the outer shell is configured to enable tightening and loosening of the at least one tensioning member.
  • In at least one other embodiment, an article of footwear includes a sole, an upper connected to the sole, the upper and the sole defining a foot cavity, a tensioning member positioned within the foot cavity, and a tension adjustment member positioned outside of the upper. The tensioning member is configured to apply a compressive force to a foot positioned within the foot cavity. The tension adjustment member is configured to adjust the compressive force applied to the foot positioned within the foot cavity.
  • In at least one embodiment, a method of applying compression to a foot includes inserting the foot into a shoe having an outer shell, touching a portion of a tension adjustment member positioned outside of the outer shell, and moving the tension adjustment member in order to bring a tensioning member into closer engagement with the foot and provide compression to the foot. The tension adjustment member is coupled to the tensioning member that is positioned at least partially within the shoe.
  • The above described features and advantages, as well as others, will become more readily apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art by reference to the following detailed description and accompanying drawings. While it would be desirable to provide an apparatus that provides one or more of these or other advantageous features as may be apparent to those reviewing this disclosure, the teachings disclosed herein extend to those embodiments which fall within the scope of any appended claims, regardless of whether they include or accomplish one or more of the advantages or features mentioned herein.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1A is a cutaway medial side view illustrating the placement of tension members in an article of footwear.
  • FIG. 1B is a cutaway lateral side view illustrating the placement of tension members in the article of footwear depicted in FIG. 1A.
  • FIG. 2A is a side view illustrating the medial side of the article of footwear depicted in FIG. 1A.
  • FIG. 2B is a side view illustrating the lateral side of the article of footwear depicted in FIG. 1B.
  • FIG. 3 is a top view of tensioning members positioned above the forefoot in the article of footwear depicted in FIG. 2A and FIG. 2B.
  • FIG. 4 is a side view of adjustment members in the article of footwear depicted in FIG. 2A and FIG. 2B.
  • FIG. 5 is a view of the tensioning members that are configured to engage a midfoot portion of a foot in the article footwear depicted in FIG. 2A and FIG. 2B.
  • FIG. 6 is a view of tensioning members that are configured to engage an ankle in the article of footwear depicted in FIG. 2A and FIG. 2B.
  • FIG. 7 is a view of an inner layer surrounding a sole of a foot in the article of footwear depicted in FIG. 2A and FIG. 2B.
  • FIG. 8 is a view of a tensioning strap and support members positioned around an upper portion of a foot and ankle in the article of footwear depicted in FIG. 2A and FIG. 2B.
  • FIG. 9 is a side view of an alternative embodiment of footwear that includes support members incorporated into the footwear.
  • FIG. 10 is a cutaway side view illustrating horizontal and vertical supports on the medial and lateral sides of the article of footwear depicted in FIG. 9.
  • FIG. 11 is a cutaway side view of the medial and lateral sides of an alternative article of footwear illustrating channels that enable movement of tensioning members depicted in FIG. 9.
  • FIG. 12A is a posterior view illustrating an inner layer and stabilizing member for a heel in an article of footwear.
  • FIG. 12B is lower posterior perspective view of the inner layer and stabilizing member for a heel depicted in FIG. 12A.
  • FIG. 12C is an anterior view of the inner layer and stabilizing member for an ankle depicted in FIG. 12A-FIG. 12B.
  • FIG. 12D is a medial side view of the article of footwear depicted in FIG. 12A-FIG. 12C illustrating the position of an ankle stabilizing member.
  • FIG. 12E is a lateral side view of an inner layer and stabilizing member for an ankle in the article of footwear depicted in FIG. 12A-FIG. 12D.
  • FIG. 13 is a partial cutaway view of an alternative embodiment of the article of footwear of FIG. 1A illustrating an alternative tensioning strap arrangement.
  • FIG. 14 is an partial cutaway view illustrating an alternative arrangement of tensioning members in an article of footwear.
  • FIG. 15 is an illustration depicting tensioning members attached to a strap in an article of footwear.
  • FIG. 16 is an illustration depicting the positions of tensioning straps and a support member in another alternative embodiment of an article of footwear.
  • FIG. 17 is an illustration of a tensioning strap in a medial side and lateral side of an alternative embodiment of an article of footwear.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • For a general understanding of the details for the footwear disclosed herein, the drawings are referenced throughout this document. In the drawings, like reference numerals designate like elements. As used herein the term “foot” may refer to a portion of the human foot, a full human foot, and to the ankle. Various portions of the foot include, but are not limited to, the forefoot, midfoot, upper foot, heel, and ankle. The terms “medial” and “medial side” refer to the inner side of a foot extending from the large toe to the heel, and the terms “lateral” and “lateral side” refer to the outer side of the foot extending from the small toe to the heel. The term “user” may refer to a person wearing an article of footwear or another person such as an athletic trainer. The user may adjust the article of footwear to apply compression and support to the foot as described herein.
  • Article of Footwear with Tensioning Members
  • FIG. 1A,-FIG. 8 depict an article of footwear, embodied here as a cleat 10, having an inner layer 12 positioned inside of an outer shell 13 (illustrated by dotted line 13 in FIG. 1A and FIG. 1B). FIG. 1A depicts the medial side of cleat 10, while FIG. 1B depicts the lateral side of the cleat 10. FIG. 2A and FIG. 2B depict the cleat 10 including features omitted from FIG. 1A and FIG. 1B for clarity. Cleat 10 includes an inner layer 12 that conforms to the foot and ankle region 14 of a user. The cleat 10 includes tensioning members 16 that may be adjusted by the user of the cleat 10 to provide compression to various portions of the foot 14 after the foot 14 is inserted into the cleat 10. Tensioning members 16 include forefoot tensioning members 16A-16B, midfoot tensioning members 20A-20B, upper foot tensioning members 30A-30B, and tensioning straps 52, as explained below. Cleat 10 may be worn on a foot 14 that is inserted inside of the cleat 10. While the illustrations of FIG. 1A-FIG. 1B depict different numbers of tensioning members than FIG. 2A-FIG. 2B, it will be understood that these figures depict the same embodiment of an article of footwear and that the different numbers of tensioning members 16 seen in FIG. 1A-FIG. 1B are simply intended to illustrate that different numbers and arrangements of tensioning members 16 are possible within various embodiments of the article of footwear. While FIG. 1A-FIG. 2B depict a cleat 10, alternative embodiments may include any suitable shoe, footwear, boot, and other articles that may be worn around the ankle and/or foot.
  • The inner layer 12 may be comprised of any material that provides the user with comfort and functionality. Such materials include, but are not limited to, compression fabrics, polypropylenes, webbing, neoprene, elastane, synthetics, and the like. The inner layer 12 may be formed as a flexible boot or sock that conforms to the foot and ankle. The inner layer 12 accommodates the foot 14 and is configured to fit snugly about the foot and ankle 14. As seen in FIG. 1A and FIG. 1B, one or more sleeves 19 may be affixed to the inner layer 12. The sleeve 19 separates the tensioning members 16 from the outer shell 13 and includes one or more channels 27. Channels 27 enclose the tensioning members 16 to enable tightening and loosening of the tensioning members 16 and to prevent tangling of the different tensioning members 16 in the article of footwear 10. In the embodiment of FIG. 1A and FIG. 1B, the article of footwear 10 provides a channel for each tensioning member in the article of footwear, but alternative configurations may include channels 27 for only a limited number of the tensioning members 16.
  • The outer shell 13 may be formed from one or more flexible materials that enclose some or all of the inner layer 12. Such materials include, but are not limited to, natural and synthetic leather, fabrics including nylon and canvas, rubber, and plastics. The outer shell 13 includes a lower portion or sole 15 that is attached to an upper portion 25, referred to as an “upper” that is attached to the sole 15. The sole 15 and upper 25 form a volume that is referred as a “foot cavity”. The foot cavity accommodates the foot of a person wearing the cleat 10. The foot cavity also holds the inner layer 12 and portions of the tensioning members 16. In various alternative embodiments described below, different support members and stabilizing members are also positioned inside the foot cavity. The inner layer 12 may be permanently attached to the outer shell 13 of the cleat 10, or alternatives the outer shell 13 may be selectively removable from the inner layer 12 to aid in fitting the cleat 10 to the foot.
  • As shown in FIG. 1A-FIG. 8, the plurality of tensioning members 16, include forefoot tensioning members 16A and 16B, midfoot tensioning members 20A and 20B, upper foot tensioning members 30A and 30B, and tensioning straps 50A and 50B. Each of the tensioning members 16 may be adjusted to apply a selected compressive force to a corresponding region of the foot 14 inside of the cleat 10. As exemplified by forefoot tensioning member 16B in FIG. 1A, each of the tensioning members 16 in cleat 10 has a first end 16B1 attached to the inner layer 12 inside of the foot cavity, and a second end 16B2 that extends to a position outside of the foot cavity and the outer shell 13, depicted with a dotted line in FIG. 1A-FIG. 1B. In the example embodiment of cleat 10, the end 16B2 that extends outside of the outer shell 13 is attached to a tab 18B. Tab 18B is one of the tension adjustment members 18 shown with cleat 10. The tension adjustment members 18 provide a surface that the user may grip to tighten or loosen the tensioning members 16 that are attached to the corresponding tab 18. The tension adjustment members 18 are also configured to be secured to the outer shell 13 or otherwise locked in place in order to enable the tensioning members 16 to continue to apply a compressive force to the foot 14 after the user adjusts and releases the tensioning members 16. The tensioning members 16 included in cleat 10 are described in more detail below.
  • The exemplary embodiment of cleat 10 includes two sets of crisscrossing forefoot tensioning members 16A and 16B. As illustrated in FIGS. 1A-2B as well as FIGS. 3, and 4, forefoot tensioning members 16A-16B are located on a forefoot region of the cleat 10. FIG. 1B depicts one set of forefoot tensioning members 16A that are attached to the lateral side of the inner layer 12 and cross to the medial side of the cleat 10. FIG. 1A depicts another set of the forefoot tensioning members 16B that are attached to the medial side of the inner layer 12 and cross to the lateral side of the cleat 10. The tensioning members 16A and 16B are shown as straps formed from an inelastic fabric material. Alternative tensioning member configurations may use one or more members formed from an elastic or inelastic material, including one or more elastic bands that are configured to stretch in response to tension. FIG. 2A-FIG. 3 depict the tensioning members 16A and 16B arranged in a crisscross pattern. The ends of each set of tensioning members 16A and 16B positioned outside of the outer shell 13 are affixed to one of a pair of forefoot tabs 18A and 18B, respectively. The forefoot tabs 18A and 18B each engage with one of corresponding fastening pads 40A and 40B, respectively, positioned on the outer shell 13 of the cleat 10.
  • As best shown in FIGS. 1A-1B, 2A-2B, and 4, tabs 18A and 18B include a hoop or loop material on an inner side designed to engage an opposing hook and loop material on the fastening pads 40A and 40B. The hooks may be either unidirectional or multidirectional. Fastening pads 40A and 40B are examples of fastening locations, which are predetermined locations positioned on the outer shell 13 that are configured to fasten one or more tensioning members in place. In lieu of to the hook and loop material, any fastener that holds the tabs 18 in position with respect to the outer shell 13 may be used including, for example, nanoadhesive materials, and snap closures. The tensioning members 16 may include ridged structures that engage a ratcheting fastening location to enable the tensioning member to lock in place. A lever or dial may provide mechanical advantage to enable application of force to tighten and loosen tensioning member.
  • As illustrated in FIG. 1A-FIG. 2B, in conjunction with FIG. 5, midfoot tensioning members 20A and 20B are located in a midfoot region of the cleat 10. The midfoot tensioning members 20A are attached to the lateral side of the inner layer 12 and extend to the medial side of the outer shell 13 terminating in midfoot tab 22A. The midfoot tensioning members 20B are attached to the medial side of the inner layer 12 and extend to the lateral side of the outer shell 13 terminating in midfoot tab 22B. FIG. 5 depicts midfoot tensioning members 20B stitched to member 23B that attaches the tensioning members 20B to the inner layer 12. The midfoot tensioning members 22A and 22B are arranged in a crisscross pattern across the midfoot region. Midfoot tabs 22A-22B are configured to engage with a corresponding attachment pad 40A-40B positioned on the outer shell 13 in a similar manner to the forefoot tensioning members 16A-16B.
  • As illustrated in FIG. 1A-FIG. 2B in conjunction with FIG. 6 and FIG. 8, upper foot tensioning members 30A and 30B are located in an ankle and upper foot region of the cleat 10. The upper foot tensioning members 30A are attached to the lateral side of the inner layer 12 and cross to the medial side, terminating in an upper foot tab 32A. Upper foot tensioning members 30B are attached to the medial side of the inner layer 12 and extend to the lateral side, terminating in a second upper foot tab 32B. The upper foot tensioning members 30A and 30B are arranged in a crisscross pattern across the upper foot region. Upper foot tabs 32A and 32B have a hook and loop material on an inner side and outer side of each tab. The hook and loop material on the inner side fastens to a corresponding hook and loop fastener positioned on the outer shell 13. The hook and loop material on the outer side of each of the upper foot tabs 32 provides a fastening location for one of the tensioning straps 50A and 50B. As explained in further detail below, a user may adjust the tension of the upper foot tensioning members 30A and 30B and then secure the tabs 32A and 32B to the outer shell 13 in order to apply a continuing compressive force to the foot.
  • With particular reference to FIG. 2A-FIG. 2B in conjunction with FIG. 7 and FIG. 8, the cleat 10 further includes a pair of tensioning straps 50A and 50B. Each of the tensioning straps 50A and 50B has one end attached to the inner layer 12, and a second end attached to a pull tab 52. As shown in FIG. 7, tensioning strap 50A has one end 54 attached to the inner layer 12, and the tensioning strap 50A is routed underneath the foot. A second tensioning strap 50B crosses the first tensioning strap 50A, extends longitudinally from the heel 60, and terminates at a pull tab 52. FIG. 1, FIG. 2, and FIG. 7 show cleat 10 with two tensioning straps 50A and 50B. An alternative embodiment, however, may only use a single tensioning strap. The tensioning straps 50A and 50B crisscross and run substantially longitudinally along the ankle and lower leg and terminating with pull tabs 52A and 52B, respectively. Pull tabs 52A and 52B include a hook and loop fastener material that compliments the material on the outer surface of the upper foot tabs 32. While in the present embodiment, tensioning straps 50A and 50B are shown as attached in the vicinity of the midfoot and forefoot, an alternate embodiment includes adjustable attachment means, such as hook and loop fasteners, rather than permanent attachment.
  • In operation, the user first inserts a foot 14 inside the inner layer 12 positioned in the foot cavity formed inside the sole 15 and upper 25. The foot 14 slides into the inner layer 12 and seats the heel of the foot into the heel portion 60. When inserting the foot 14, tabs 18A-18B, 22A-22B, 32A-32B and the pull tabs 52A-52B are disengaged from counterpart fastening locations. The user may then apply a compressive force to the foot 14 using one or more of the tensioning members 16 on the cleat 10. In one embodiment, the user pulls forefoot tabs 18A and 18B away from each other to apply a tensile force that tightens the forefoot tensioning members 16A and 16B. The user engages the forefoot tab 18A-18B with the forefoot of the cleat 10 thus maintaining and locking in the applied tension on the forefoot tensioning members 16A-16B. The user pulls midfoot tabs 22A and 22B away from each other to applying a tensile force that tightens the midfoot tensioning members 20A and 20B. The user then engages the midfoot tabs 22A and 22B with the midfoot of the cleat 10 thus maintaining and locking in the applied tension on the midfoot tensioning members 20A and 20B. The user pulls upper foot tabs 32A and 32B away from each other to apply a tensile force that tightens the upper foot tensioning members 30A and 30B. The user then engages the upper foot tabs 32A and 32B with the upper foot of the cleat 10 thus maintaining and locking in the applied tension on the upper foot tensioning members 30A and 30B. The forefoot tensioning members 16A-16B, midfoot tensioning members 20A-20B, and the upper foot tensioning members 30A-30B may be tightened in any order.
  • Once tension has been applied to the tensioning members 16A-16B, 20A-20B, and 30A-30B, the user uses pull tabs 52 to pull and apply a tensile force to the tensioning straps 50. The user pulls the pull tabs 52 to apply a selected tensile force to the tensioning straps 50A and 50B, and engages pull tabs 52A and 52B with the upper foot tabs 32A and 32B, respectively, to secure the tensioning straps 50A and 50B in the selected position. The result of the aforementioned tensioning enables the user to fully lock the cleat 10 about the foot and ankle region. In an alternative embodiment, the tensioning straps 50A and 50B may have fastening material such as hook and loop material positioned on both sides of the tensioning straps 50A and 50B. In this embodiment, the user pulls on tensioning straps 50A and 50B to apply compression to the foot 14 prior to adjusting the upper foot tabs 32A and 32B.
  • When one of the tensioning members 16A-16B, 20A-20B, 30A-30B, and 50A-50B inside of the outer shell 13 is tightened, the effective length of the tightened tensioning member inside of the outer shell 13 decreases, and the effective length of the portion of the tensioning member that extends through the outer shell 13 increases. The term “effective length” refers to the proportion of the length of one or more of the tensioning members 16 that is either inside of or outside of the outer shell 13. As the effective length of one of the tensioning members 16 increases inside the outer shell 13, the corresponding effective length decreases outside of the outer shell 13, and vice versa. Each of the tensioning members 16A-16B, 20A-20B, 30A-30B, and 50A-50B may be loosened as well as tightened. Each tensioning member may be loosened when a corresponding tension adjustment member 18 for a tensioning member 16 is detached from a corresponding attachment location of the cleat 10. The user may loosen the tensioning member and then engage the tab with a corresponding attachment location to maintain the applied tension. When one of the tensioning members 16A-16B, 20A-20B, 30A-30B, and 50A-50B is loosened, the effective length of the loosened tensioning member inside of the outer shell 13 increases, and the effective length of the portion of the tensioning member that extends through the outer shell 13 decreases.
  • Article of Footwear with Support Members
  • With reference to FIG. 9-FIG. 10, an alternative embodiment of an article of footwear 900 is disclosed that includes support members 100 and 102. The support members 100 and 102 enable the footwear article 900 to retain a predetermined shape and continue providing support to a foot inserted in the footwear article 900 when the various tensioning members described above apply compression to the foot 14. The support members 100 and 102 provide a stiffening force to the footwear article 900 to prevent the ankle and foot from rolling or spraining. The support members 100 and 102 may be incorporated with any of the embodiments of footwear and modifications thereof that are described in this application.
  • Footwear article 900 includes vertical supports 100 and horizontal supports 102 shown in FIG. 9. Vertical supports 100 are oriented in a substantially longitudinal direction with the ankle and lower leg of a foot inserted in the footwear article 900. The vertical supports 100 are integrated into an inner layer of the footwear article 900 similar to inner layer 12 seen above. Vertical supports 100 originate proximate the bottom of the inner layer and run the length thereof. The vertical supports 100 may be removable or permanently affixed to the inner layer. Additionally, the vertical supports may follow the contours of the foot. Additionally, the footwear article 900 may include horizontal supports 102 that are oriented in a substantially longitudinal with the foot inserted in the footwear article 900. The horizontal supports 102 may be operably connected to the eyelets or lacing system 104 of the footwear article 900 or to the tensioning members 16 described above.
  • As shown in FIG. 10, the vertical supports 100 and horizontal supports 102 may be formed from one or more members formed from a polymer such as a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) material. In the embodiment of FIG. 9 and FIG. 10, the TPU forming the supports 100 and 102 is approximately 3 mm thick, although different support configurations may have different thicknesses. Vertical supports 100 have a lower end 105A near the sole of the footwear 900 with a wider width that tapers to a narrower width at an upper end 105B proximate to the top of the footwear 900. The inner layer 12 may further comprise a top layer 120 formed from a stretchable fabric material and a bottom layer 128 formed by an elastic material. The bottom layer 128 faces the foot, while the top 120 engages the tensioning members 16 and outer shell. The vertical support members 100 and horizontal support members 102 are positioned between the top layer 120 and bottom layer 128.
  • Article of Footwear with Tensioning Member Channels Positioned Over Support Members
  • FIG. 11 depicts another alternative embodiment of an article of footwear, depicted here as a partial cutaway view of a cleat 1100 that includes support members integrated with an inner layer 1112 and channels such as channel 1140 to guide tensioning members 1130. Inner layer 1112 is positioned inside of an outer shell 1113. Cleat 1100 includes support members 1104 that are similar to the vertical support members 100 seen in FIG. 9-10. As shown in FIG. 11, the cleat 1100 may include one or more channels 1140 formed in the inner layer 1112 to enable movement of one or more of the tensioning members 16 described above. The inner layer 1112 further includes a top layer 1120 and bottom layer 1128. Both the top layer 1120 and bottom layer 1128 are formed from a stretchable materials such as compression fabrics, polypropylenes, webbing, neoprene, elastane, synthetics, and the like. The channel 1140 is stitched into the top layer 1120 of the inner layer 1112. The channel 1140 corresponds to the shape and configuration of one of the tensioning members in the cleat 1110, exemplified by tensioning member 1130. The tensioning member 1130 is arranged over one or more of the support members, such as vertical support 1100, and under the channel 1140 in the top layer 1120. In operation, the channel 1140 enables the tensioning member 1130 to tighten and loosen without interference from the outer shell 1113. Multiple channels such as channel 1140 may also prevent fouling or tangling of different tensioning members in operation. While FIG. 11 depicts a cleat 1100 that includes vertical support members 1100, a similar embodiment may include vertical and horizontal support members as well.
  • Article of Footwear with Adjustable Stabilizing Members
  • In another alternative footwear embodiment, one or more adjustable stabilizing members are positioned within the footwear to provide additional stability to one or more portions of a foot that is inserted in the footwear. FIG. 12A-FIG. 12E depict an inner layer 1212 of footwear 1200 that includes stabilizing members 1202 that provide stability to portions of the foot. The stabilizing members 1202 and are held in place using one or more tensioning members 1215, embodied here as flexible straps 1208 and 1220A-1220B. The stabilizing members 1202 are repositionable members placed between an inner layer 1212 and outer layer (omitted for clarity) inside of the foot cavity of an article of footwear. Each stabilizing member 1202 is configured to conform to one or more regions of the foot, such as the heel or ankle. One or more of the tensioning members 1215 engages each stabilizing member 1202 to enable the user to adjust the stabilizing member 1202 with respect to a foot in the footwear. One end of each tensioning member 1215 extends outside of the foot cavity and outer shell of the footwear, and may be secured in position after tension is applied. Thus, the user may tighten, loosen, or otherwise adjust the fit of each stabilizing member 1202 to the foot by tightening and loosening a tension member 1215 in a similar manner to the tensioning members 16 described above.
  • FIG. 12A and FIG. 12B depict an inner layer 1212, heel stabilizing member 1204, and tensioning member 1208, seen here as a tensioning strap. Heel stabilizing member 1204 has a shape that conforms to the heel 1260 of a foot placed in the inner layer 1212, and the stabilizing member 1204 is positioned behind the heel. The heel stabilizing member 1204 has a U-shaped configuration with a lower end 1206 positioned at the base of the heel 1260 and two upper ends 1207A and 1207B that extend toward the ankle. Alternative configurations of the heel stabilizing member 1204 may include different shapes that provide stability to the heel 1260. The lower end 1260 is affixed to the inner layer 1212. The upper ends 1207A and 1207B engage the tensioning member 1208 around the lateral and medial sides of the posterior of the heel 1260. The tensioning member 1208 may be fixedly attached to the upper ends 1207A and 1207B of the stabilizing member 1204, or may thread through openings formed in the upper ends 1207A and 1207B of the stabilizing member 1204.
  • The tensioning member 1208 includes one end 1232 that is attached to the inner layer 1212 under the sole of the foot. The length of the tensioning member 1208 may be fixedly attached or threaded through the ends 1207A and 1207B of the stabilizing member 1204. A second end of the tensioning member 1236 may end in a tension adjustment member, such as a tab or other attachment device that is configured to engage a fastening pad or other fastening mechanism positioned on the outside of the footwear in a similar manner to the embodiments of FIG. 1A-FIG. 8.
  • FIG. 12C-FIG. 12E depict two ankle stabilizing members 1216A and 1216B that conform to the medial side and lateral side, respectively, of an ankle. Both of the ankle stabilizing members 1216A and 1216B are formed with a U-shape. As seen in FIG. 12C and FIG. 12D, a curved end 1217A of the U-shaped stabilizing member 1216A is positioned to engage the posterior side of the medial malleolus 1218A. The curved end 1217A is affixed to the inner layer 1212. The open ends 1219A and 1219B of the stabilizing member 1216A extend above and below the medial malleolus, respectively, toward the anterior of the foot. The end 1219A of the ankle stabilizing member 1216A engages one end of a tensioning member 1220A. The tensioning member 1220A has a length that extends outside of the article of footwear to a second end. The user may pull on the second end of the tensioning member 1220A or on a tension adjustment member affixed thereto in order to adjust the ankle stabilizing member 1216A. The end 1219B of the ankle stabilizing member 1216A engages a strap 1207 that is affixed to the lateral side of the inner layer 1212.
  • As seen in FIG. 12C and FIG. 12E, a curved end 1217B of the U-shaped ankle stabilizing member 1216B is positioned to engage the posterior side of the lateral malleolus 1218B. The curved end 1217B is affixed to the inner layer 1212. The open ends 1221A and 1221B of the stabilizing member 1216B extend above and below the lateral malleolus, respectively, toward the anterior of the foot. The end 1221A of the ankle stabilizing member 1216A engages one end of a tensioning member 1220B. The tensioning member 1220B has a length that extends outside of the article of footwear to a second end. The user may pull on the second end of the tensioning member 1220B or on a tension adjustment member affixed thereto in order to adjust the ankle stabilizing member 1216B. The end 1221B of the ankle stabilizing member 1216B engages a strap 1205 that is affixed to the medial side of the inner layer 1212.
  • In a finished article of footwear, an outer shell, omitted in FIG. 12A-FIG. 12E for clarity, encloses the stabilizing members 1204, 1216A and 1216B. The stabilizing members 1204, 1216A, and 1216B are not directly attached to the outer shell to enable adjustment of the semi-rigid members. The stabilizing members 1204, 1216A, and 1216B are each formed from one or more semi-rigid materials to enable the stabilizing members to conform to the foot and ankle while resisting ankle rolls and other movements that may cause injuries. As used herein, the term “semi-rigid” refers to a material that resists deformation under stress, but deforms in response to a sufficient force and then returns to an undeformed state when the force is removed. Common examples of semi-rigid materials include polymeric materials such as polyimides and thermoplastics. The stabilizing members depicted in FIG. 12A-12E may be incorporated into any of the footwear embodiments and modifications thereof described in this application.
  • In operation, a user inserts the foot inside the inner layer 1212 located in the foot cavity to enable the heel 1260 to engage the stabilizing member 1204 and the ankle to engage the stabilizing members 1216A and 1216B. The user may first apply a selected tensioning force to the end of the tensioning member 1208 that extends outside of the footwear to draw the stabilizing member 1204 into further engagement with the heel 1260 to provide support to the heel 1260 when wearing the footwear. As described above, the tensioning member 1208 may be tightened or loosened to increase or decrease, respectively, the tightness of the stabilizing member 1204 with respect to the foot. The tensioning member 1208 is secured to an outer shell of the footwear in a similar manner to the embodiments of FIG. 1-FIG. 8 to retain the stabilizing member 1204 in the selected position.
  • After adjusting the tensioning member 1208 and associated heel stabilizing member 1204, the user may then adjust the tensioning members 1220A and 1220B that engage ankle stabilizing members 1216A and 1216B, respectively. To accomplish this, the user applies a selected tensioning force to the ends of tensioning members 1220A and 1220B that extend outside of the footwear and secures them to the outer shell to engage the stabilizing members 1216A and 1216B, respectively, to the ankle. The foregoing description does not limit the order of adjusting the tensioning members 1215 and stabilization members 1202. The user may adjust the tensioning members 1208, 1220A, and 1220B and corresponding stabilization members 1204, 1216A and 1216B in any order.
  • The stabilizing members 1204, 1216A, and 1216B provide additional support to the heel and ankle. The tensioning members 1215 enable a user to adjust the stabilizing members 1202 to conform to the foot and ankle while wearing the footwear. While the foregoing embodiments depict stabilizing members 1202 engaging the heel and ankle regions of the foot, alternative embodiments may have stabilizing members for one of the heel and ankle, and may include similar stabilizing members that engage other areas of the foot.
  • Article of Footwear with a Locking Strap
  • FIG. 13 illustrates an alternative embodiment of a cleat 90 that includes a locking strap 96 for securing a tensioning strap 92 in place after a user adjusts the tensioning strap to apply compression to a foot inserted into the cleat 90. Cleat 90 includes tensioning strap 92 positioned in the foot cavity, shown here in a partial cutaway view, that is attached at an attachment point 94 in proximity to the forefoot or midfoot region of the cleat 90. Cleat 90 also includes a locking strap 96 positioned on an outer shell 95 of the cleat 90. The locking strap 96 includes a first end that is affixed to the outer shell 95. The locking strap 96 wraps around the ankle region of a foot inserted into the cleat 90, to surround an end of the tensioning strap 92 or a tensioning member affixed to the end of the tensioning strap 92 that extends out of the outer shell 95. A second end 97 of the locking strap 96 is configured to be releasably secured to another portion of the locking strap 96 using a hook and loop material. Alternative embodiments may include various other fastening mechanisms that secure the second end 97 of the locking strap 96 in place.
  • The cleat 90 also includes a toe guard 98. Toe guard 98 may comprise a material with an increased resistance to compression forces, such as those experiences when a large load is placed thereupon. Such materials exhibit a higher modulus of elasticity and include, but are not limited to, Kevlar fibers, plastics, and the like.
  • In operation, a user first inserts a foot into cleat 90, The user then pulls on an end of tensioning strap 92 that extends out of the outer shell 95 to apply a tensile force to the tensioning strap 92. Such application urges the heel of a foot inserted into the cleat 90 into the heel region 91 of the cleat 90. The heel region 91 may include an external support member 93 that engages with the posterior end of the heel. The end of the tensioning strap 92 is secured to the outer shell 95 of the cleat 90 using a hook and loop type of engagement (although other known methods may also be used). The user then wraps locking strap 96 around the ankle region of the foot and the end of the tensioning strap 92. After the locking strap 96 is wrapped around the foot, the user fastens the second end 97 of the locking strap. The locking strap 96 enables the tensioning strap 92 to remain in a position with the tensile force applied after the user tightens the tensioning strap 92.
  • Article of Footwear with Serially Arranged Tensioning Members
  • FIG. 14 depicts four views of another embodiment of an article of footwear 1410 that includes tensioning members engaged in series with adjustment tabs. In the embodiment of FIG. 14, a first set of tensioning members 1420A engage the mid foot region extending from a midfoot flap 1426 on the medial side of the footwear 1410 to a tab 1422 positioned on the medial side of the footwear 1410. A second set of tensioning members 1420B extend from the tab 1422 underneath the sole 1418 to another tab 1424 that engages a fastening pad 1440A on the lateral side of the footwear. In a similar arrangement, a first set of tensioning members 1430A extend from a flap 1428 on the lateral side of the footwear 1410 and extend to a first tab 1434 that may be secured to a fastening pad 1444. A second set of tensioning members 1430B extend from the first tab 1434 around the posterior of the ankle to another tab 1436 that is secured to the fastening pad 1444 on the lateral side of the foot. In the embodiment of FIG. 14, fastening pad 1444 wraps around the posterior of the footwear 1410 to fasten flaps 1434 and 1436 on both the lateral and medial side of the footwear 1410. An alternative embodiment may include separate fastening pads on the medial and lateral sides. Flaps 1426 and 1428 may overlap each other.
  • In operation, a user inserts a foot into the footwear 1410. The user tightens tensioning members 1420A by pulling on the tab 1422, and then secures the tab 1422 to a medial fastening pad 1440A. The user then tightens tensioning members 1420B by pulling on the tab 1424 and securing the tab 1424 to a lateral fastening pad 1440B. In a similar manner, the user may adjust tab 1434 first followed by tab 1436 to adjust the tensioning members 1430A and 1430B, respectively. The magnitude of compressive force applied to the foot by tensioning members 1420A and 1430A may be different than the compressive force applied by tensioning members 1420B and 1430B, respectively. The configuration of footwear 1410 provides compression to the medial and lateral sides of a foot without a crisscross arrangement of the tensioning members 1430A and 1430B.
  • Article of Footwear with Tensioning Members Affixed to a Strap
  • FIG. 15 depicts a medial and lateral view of another embodiment of an article of footwear 1510 that includes tensioning members that are attached to a strap. Footwear 1510 includes tensioning members 1520 that are attached to an inner layer 1512 near the heel of the foot. The tensioning members 1520 are attached to one end of a strap 1530 that wraps around the ankle and is configured to be fastened to the footwear 1510 at a location above the ankle. The strap 1530 is attached the tensioning members 1520 at a location between the inner layer 1512 and an outer shell 1513, with the other end of the strap 1530 extending to the outside of the outer shell 1513. The strap 1530 has a width that enables each of the tensioning members 1520 to be attached to one end of the strap 1530. The strap 1530 is positioned within a sleeve 1516 formed outside of the inner layer 1512. The sleeve 1516 enables the strap 1530 to be tightened and loosened in operation. The strap 1530 may be attached to tensioning members on either the medial or lateral side of the foot, and may wrap around the foot and ankle one or more times.
  • In operation, a user inserts a foot into the footwear 1510. The user pulls on the end of the strap 1530 that extends outside of the outer shell 1513. The tensioning members 1520 apply a compressive force to the heel, and the strap 1520 applies a compressive force to the ankle. The tensioning members 1520 are shown as engaging the heel, but may engage the forefoot and midfoot regions as well.
  • Article of Footwear with Tensioning Strap and Support Members
  • FIG. 16 depicts another alternative embodiment of an article of footwear 1610 including tensioning straps and a support member. Article of footwear 1610 has an inner layer 1612, with a strap 1616 that attached to the lateral side of the inner layer 1612. The strap 1616 extends over the fore foot region through a D-ring 1618 on the medial side of the footwear 1610. The strap 1616 extends back to the lateral side of the footwear 1610, where an end of the strap 1616 may be fastened to the exterior of the footwear 1610. A second strap 1622 includes one end attached to the upper edge of the sole 1620 around the forefoot, midfoot, and heel portions of the sole 1622. Strap 1622 extends around the upper foot and wraps around the ankle in the footwear 1610. The strap 1622 includes one end 1624 that extends outside of an outer shell of the footwear 1610 to enable tightening and loosening of the strap 1620.
  • Footwear 1610 includes one or more pockets 1628 formed in the inner layer 1612. A support member, embodied herein as a nylon support member 1632 is positioned within the pocket 1628. The pocket 1628 is configured to enable the support member 1632 to move within the pocket 1628. In the example of FIG. 16, the pocket 1628 is configured with a length and a width that are 6 mm larger than the corresponding length and width of the support member 1632. Strap 1622 wraps around the pocket 1628 and support member 1632.
  • In operation, a user inserts a foot into the footwear 1610. The user may pull on straps 1616 and 1622 to apply compression to the forefoot, midfoot, heel, and ankle regions of the foot. Tension may be applied to the straps 1616 and 1622 in any order. The support member 1632 may move within the pocket 1628 to provide support to the foot in different orientations when wearing the footwear 1610.
  • Article of Footwear with Tensioning Strap Wrapped Around Foot
  • FIG. 17 depicts another alternative embodiment of an article of footwear 1710 including a tensioning strap 1720 that is configured to pass under the foot and around the ankle. Tensioning strap 1720 is attached to an inner layer 1712 of the footwear at a midfoot location 1724 on the lateral side of the footwear 1710. The tensioning strap 1720 extends horizontally along the lateral side of the footwear 1710, wraps around the medial side of the footwear 1710, and returns to the midfoot region on the lateral side of the footwear 1710. The tensioning strap 1720 further extends down the lateral side of the footwear 1710, under the foot, and extends up the medial side of the footwear 1710 where an end 1730 is positioned outside of an outer shell of the footwear 1710. The end 1730 may be fastened to the outer shell of the footwear 1710.
  • In operation, a user inserts a foot into the footwear 1710. The user may pull on the strap 1720 to apply compression to the midfoot and ankle regions of the foot. In the embodiment of FIG. 17, a single strap 1720 applies compression to both the medial and lateral sides of the foot. While the strap 1720 is depicted as being attached to the lateral side of the footwear 1710 and extending through the medial side of the footwear 1710, and alternative configuration may arrange a tensioning strap to extend from the medial side to the lateral side.
  • Although the present invention has been described with respect to certain preferred embodiments, it will be appreciated by those of skill in the art that other implementations and adaptations are possible. Moreover, there are advantages to individual advancements described herein that may be obtained without incorporating other aspects described above. Therefore, the spirit and scope of any appended claims should not be limited to the description of the preferred embodiments contained herein.

Claims (20)

1. An article of footwear comprising:
an outer shell;
an inner layer positioned inside of the outer shell, the inner layer configured to surround and conform to at least a portion of a human foot; and
at least one tensioning member engaging the inner layer, the at least one tensioning member including a portion that extends to a position that is outside of the outer shell, wherein the portion that extends to the position that is outside of the outer shell is configured to enable tightening and loosening of the at least one tensioning member.
2. The article of footwear of claim 1 wherein the portion that extends to the position that is outside of the outer shell is configured to be adjusted between a first position and a second position, wherein an effective length of the tensioning member inside the outer shell is greater in the first position than in the second position.
3. The article of footwear of claim 1 further comprising:
a stabilizing member positioned between the inner layer and outer shell, wherein the stabilizing member is configured to provide support to a portion of the human foot.
4. The article of footwear of claim 3, wherein the stabilizing member engages the at least one tensioning member, the at least one tensioning member configured to adjust the stabilizing member with respect to the human foot in response to tightening and loosening of the at least one tensioning member.
5. The article of footwear of claim 4, wherein the stabilizing member is comprised of a semi-rigid material, and the at least one tensioning member is comprised of a flexible member.
6. The article of footwear of claim 4 wherein the stabilizing member extends from an ankle portion to a heel portion of the article of footwear.
7. The article of footwear of claim 1, wherein the at least one tensioning member has a first end and a second end, wherein the first end is attached to a portion of the inner layer conforming to a medial side of the human foot, and wherein the second end extends to the position that is outside of the outer shell on a lateral side of the human foot.
8. The article of footwear of claim 1, wherein the at least one tensioning member has a first end and a second end, wherein the first end is attached to a portion of the inner layer conforming to a lateral side of the human foot, and wherein the second end extends to the position that is outside of the outer shell on a medial side of the human foot.
9. The article of footwear of claim 1, wherein the at least one tensioning member has a first end attached to a portion of the inner layer conforming to a medial side of the human foot, wherein the at least one tensioning member extends underneath the human foot and upwards toward an ankle on the lateral side of the human foot.
10. The article of footwear of claim 1, wherein the at least one tensioning member has a first end attached to a portion of the inner layer conforming to a lateral side of the human foot, wherein the at least one tensioning member extends underneath the human foot and upwards toward an ankle on the medial side of the human foot.
11. The article of footwear of claim 1, wherein the tensioning member extends through an opening in the outer shell.
12. An article of footwear comprising:
a sole;
an upper connected to the sole, the upper and the sole defining a foot cavity;
a tensioning member positioned within the foot cavity, the tensioning member configured to apply a compressive force to a foot positioned within the foot cavity; and
a tension adjustment member positioned outside of the foot cavity, the tension adjustment member configured to adjust the compressive force applied to the foot positioned within the foot cavity.
13. The article of footwear of claim 12 further comprising a heel stabilizer positioned within the foot cavity, wherein the tension adjustment member is configured to draw the heel stabilizer closer to the foot within the foot cavity.
14. The article of footwear of claim 12 further comprising a sock positioned in the foot cavity, wherein the tensioning member engages the sock within the foot cavity.
15. The article of footwear of claim 12 wherein the tensioning member is a strap and the tension adjustment member is a portion of the strap that extends beyond a fastening location on the upper.
16. A method of providing compression to a foot, the method comprising:
inserting the foot into a shoe having an outer shell;
touching a portion of a tension adjustment member positioned outside of the outer shell, the tension adjustment member coupled to a tensioning member positioned at least partially within the shoe;
moving the tension adjustment member in order to bring the tensioning member into closer engagement with the foot and provide compression to the foot.
17. The method of claim 16 wherein inserting the foot into the shoe includes inserting the foot into a flexible boot positioned within the outer shell.
18. The method of claim 17 wherein the tensioning member engages the flexible boot, and wherein moving the tension adjustment member changes the effective length of the tensioning member within the outer shell.
19. The method of claim 18 wherein the tensioning member is a band and the adjustment member is an end portion of the band.
20. The method of claim 19 wherein a stabilizing member is positioned inside of the shoe and moving the tensioning member draws the stabilizing member into closer engagement with a heel portion of the foot.
US13/111,704 2010-06-21 2011-05-19 Foot support article Abandoned US20110308108A1 (en)

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US13/111,704 US20110308108A1 (en) 2010-06-21 2011-05-19 Foot support article
US13/157,023 US9402437B2 (en) 2010-06-21 2011-06-09 Foot support article
CA 2776110 CA2776110A1 (en) 2011-05-19 2012-05-07 Foot support article
EP12167850.2A EP2524611A3 (en) 2011-05-19 2012-05-14 Foot support article
US14/013,684 US9707119B2 (en) 2010-06-21 2013-08-29 Foot support article
US15/619,894 US20170273814A1 (en) 2011-05-19 2017-06-12 Foot Support Article
US15/623,966 US20170281391A1 (en) 2010-06-21 2017-06-15 Foot and ankle support article

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US9872535B2 (en) * 2012-12-20 2018-01-23 Nike, Inc. Article of footwear with a harness and fluid-filled chamber arrangement
US9113675B2 (en) 2013-06-05 2015-08-25 Nike, Inc. Article of footwear
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US20180116853A1 (en) * 2016-11-01 2018-05-03 Teresa Jones Therapy sock

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