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Development of a heelless shoe to reduce injury during running (HEELLESS)
Start date: Sep 1, 2008, End date: Aug 31, 2010 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"As healthy as it is to keep fit by running, the repetitive stresses and strains on joints cause a large percentage of the injuries experienced during this sport. HEELLESS aims to develop a novel type of running shoe that prevents joint injury and muscle strain by mitigating the impact force that results from impact force when the foot strikes the ground during running; notably the peak force when landing on the heel is smoothed out. Preliminary trials have proven the concept, but methodical research is needed to enable the SME consortium to further improve the shoe. Research of composite materials to be used for the application of a rigid upper sole will set a new precedent for the market of composite materials. The use of a natural fibre reinforced composite for the application of use in specialised athletic footwear is a novel approach with distinct recycleability advantages. Such composites have not yet been embarked upon, making this application highly innovative. The work anticipated is broken down into work packages for research and innovation related to material research, shoe development, biomechanical assessments, evaluations, as well dissemination, technology transfer and exploitation of results. The market for athletic footwear is substantial and grows with 4% per annum, with consumers becoming increasingly aware of safety factors and the prevention of injuries through specialised clothing. The exploitation outlook is great, not only addressing performance runners, but in particular also the fitness market. Multinational players on one hand and threats from cheap alternatives from low-wage countries on the other hand, however, make it a particular challenge for SMEs to tap these market opportunities. To have a chance, a superior performance and other use related properties (like safety, comfort) are a prerequisite, and precisely the expected result of HEELLESS."

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