Gimmicks and gadgetry the name of the game


August 07, 1991|By Lan Nguyen

Those white kick-around canvas shoes of yesteryear sure could take a lesson or two from today's high-tech shoes. Athletic shoe companies are coming out with technology aimed at cushioning the foot and absorbing the force. It's part of the game to stay ahead of one another in a $12 billion-a-year business. Here's a sampling of the latest in gadgets. They're high-tech, high-priced and on the market:

* Brooks Shoe's Propulsion Plate System is a carbon-fiber plate embedded in the mid-sole that "collects, stores and then releases forward energy into your stride." Think of a vaulter's pole: "as you run, you bend the plate embedded in the shoe, then a precise moment later, the plate springs back and helps you propel forward." There's also the HydroTech sockliner, designed to reduce "heat buildup" and wick perspiration.

* Asics Tiger Corp. continues to ride on the GEL System, a silicone-filled encapsulate that's used for shock dispersion.

* L.A. Gear's Catapult Plate System is a heel spring that takes the shock of impact -- a runner produces a force of about three times the body weight, for example. The spring is made of carbon-fiber and the maker says it has "100 percent memory, allowing it to return to its original shape instantaneously."

* Turntex's Anatomical Rebound Technology is a trampoline that absorbs the shock of the force on the foot: "the greater the impact, the more the trampoline absorbs, rebounds and the heel countercradles."

* Adidas' Torsion system promises to help prevent the foot from over twisting. Torsion bars built into the shoes allow the forefoot and rear foot to "move independently of each other."

* Mizuno boasts a Power Pak mid-sole system, which allows the wearer to "easily interchange heel packs to meet your cross sport needs."

* Converse recently introduced the Aero-Glide basketball shoe line featuring technology from a "fusion of aerodynamic and biomechanical sciences." It includes a "contoured ankle wrap to ensure maximum flexibility" and the Thermo Plastic Urethane aeroshield, which "protects the players' toes and enhances durability." There's also the Kevlar mid-foot support system, which "pampers the foot in high stress area," and the Anti-Roll Outsole, which "offers better traction and superior stability."

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