Where would we be without our safe and comfortable court shoes? Although athletic footwear has evolved throughout the past century, comfort remains the primary goal. With the advent of tennis shoes sporting vivid colors to please both genders, athletic footwear is more aesthetically appealing. Sneakers, along with the game of tennis share a colorful history.
In the 1830s, the first athletic shoes were developed with a canvas upper and upper sole. By the early part of the 20th Century, rubber companies in the U.S. were manufacturing sneakers. Keds and the Converse All-Star made their way into the athletic gear market. But tennis shoes became a household name after World War 1 when Americans focused on sporting activities to demonstrate more national pride. By the 1930s and 1940s, companies such as Converse added traction and produced different footwear for different sports.
During the 1950s, as Christian Dior was transforming dress shoes from the almond shape to the newer wedge shape, the Olympic Games were revived and gaining popularity in the U.S and sports fans were rapidly increasing. As jogging picked up steam as a sport and daily activity, so did sneakers. By 1957, six hundred million pairs of sneakers were selling annually in this country. In the 1970s, every sport had its own unique brand of shoes, thanks to podiatrists developing the athletic shoe technology.
Today, sports shoe designers and manufacturers face the challenge of design needs for all types of athletes. Age is also a factor. As seasoned players enter their 40s, joint stiffness and soreness gain ground so selecting the right pair of shoes is priority. With a wide variety of athletic shoes available on the current market, it is crucial to first run or walk some steps before purchasing to be certain of the comfort level.
“For court shoes, lateral stability, torsional flexibility, cushioning and traction control appear to be important design strategies to decrease the risk of injury,” according to a study from Human Performance Laboratory, University of Calgary in Canada.
Court sports like tennis, basketball and volleyball require shoes that assist the body to move forward, sideways and backwards. Here, a superior quality sole is necessary. Other sports such as golf, soccer and baseball require specialty shoes. But in many sports, the foot and the ankle are exposed to great stress. For instance, basketball players need shoes with ample ankle support and shock absorption like some high-topped footwear. Volleyball-specific shoes are usually light-weight with less midsole support.
But performance, injury prevention and comfort still supersede for consumers. Consumer reports often emphasize stability and flexibility as factors for shoe selection. For injury prevention, the cushioning of each shoe type is a factor. For avid runners, the cushion may impact fatigue and skeletal motion. When selecting sneakers for children, it is important to purchase ones that support the arch and have shoelaces. Let’s face it; every parent wants shoes to have stain removal ability in addition to comfort and support.
Celia Taghdiri is a freelance writer with numerous publishings. With an education background in English/Journalism, her articles have been featured in the San Diego Union Tribune and various magazines. As a tennis writer, she emphasizes the sport’s multiculturalism and international recognition.