Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


HEELLESS — Result In Brief

Project ID: 222468
Funded under: FP7-SME
Country: Netherlands

Innovative running footwear for safer exercise

Running increases fitness, but repeated stresses and strains on joints can lead to injuries. European researchers set out to elaborate a new running shoe concept that prevents joint injury and muscle strain by alleviating the force of foot–floor impact.
Innovative running footwear for safer exercise
The 'Development of a heelless shoe to reduce injury during running' (HEELLESS) project developed and optimised a novel lightweight running shoe — with no heel. The heelless design decreases — by at least 50 % — the force experienced when the foot strikes the floor.

Partners also sought to improve shoe rigidity and strength with the use of natural-fibre–reinforced plastics, and to double the running period of conventional running shoes. More specifically, the project's two main objectives were to refine the materials needed for the novel components of a heelless running shoe, and to validate the heelless concept.

Project work included an innovation strategy for research and development activities, shoe specifications based on market and user requirements, materials and production research, shoe prototyping, development of the manufacturing process, and a clear market analysis.

Product appearance, durability, environmental impact, performance and price were included in the marketing parameters established for the finalised shoe. These were then converted into technical requirements and shoe properties.

Concept validation, through laboratory and field tests, showed a 40 % cost reduction in materials and a high production quality, amongst other positives. Other areas investigated covered the degree to which wearing the shoe alters postural control, gait pattern and running style, as well as comfort, performance and durability for end users.

The enormous athletic footwear market continues to grow and embrace novel concepts. With consumers increasingly aware of safety factors and of injury risks, the HEELLESS shoe has strong market potential as a high-quality sports product. Following project completion, partner businesses (small and medium-sized enterprises) plan to commercialise the heelless shoe concept and prepare market roll-out.

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