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Publication numberUS20020069558 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 09/427,786
Publication dateJun 13, 2002
Filing dateOct 27, 1999
Priority dateOct 27, 1999
Publication number09427786, 427786, US 2002/0069558 A1, US 2002/069558 A1, US 20020069558 A1, US 20020069558A1, US 2002069558 A1, US 2002069558A1, US-A1-20020069558, US-A1-2002069558, US2002/0069558A1, US2002/069558A1, US20020069558 A1, US20020069558A1, US2002069558 A1, US2002069558A1
InventorsWilliam T. Wilkinson
Original AssigneeWilliam T. Wilkinson
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Flexible non-restrictive toe structure for shoes
US 20020069558 A1
Abstract
A shoe that greatly reduces and/or eliminates toe pressure, restriction and movement problems caused by the conventional shoe. The shoe would have either a completely open toe box, partially opened toe box, or a completely covered toe box. The toe box can be made of a flexible material, such that when the toes apply pressure, the toe box actually moves away thereby reducing pressure and reducing or eliminating associated pain on the toes and lastly, a flexible or non-flexible raised toe box section.
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Claims(19)
I claim:
1. A shoe for a human foot comprising a sole piece having a toe box section where a user's forefoot would be located, a middle section and a rear section where the user's heel would be located, an upper piece secured to said sole piece, said upper piece providing an enclosing brace foot enclosure having a rear section at the rear of the foot, a mid-section connected to the rear section, and the front section of the shoe where the user's toes would be located when the shoe is worn would be open and exposed to the environment so that the user while wearing the shoe would have the toes not constricted.
2. The shoe as claimed in claim 1, which further comprises at least one band having one end attached to said foot enclosure at the toe box section of said shoe and the other end of said band attached periphery to the end of the sole at the toe box section thereby forming at least two openings.
3. The shoe as claimed in claim 2, wherein said band is made of a flexible or non-flexible material.
4. The shoe as claimed in claim 3, wherein said band is attached in such a manner that it covers the big to middle toes of the user when the shoe is worn.
5. The shoe as claimed in claim 4, which further comprises at least one flexible panel attached to said at least one band and said sole to provide an enclosure for the user's big toes when the shoe is worn.
6. The shoe as claimed in claim 5, which further comprises at least one non flexible panel attached to said at least one band and said sole to provide an enclosure for the user's little toes when the shoe is worn.
7. The shoe as claimed in claim 5, wherein said flexible material is also porous.
8. A shoe for a human foot comprising a sole piece having a toe box section where the user's forefoot would be located, a middle section and a rear section where the user's heel would be located, an upper piece secured to the sole piece, said upper piece providing an enclosed embracing foot enclosure having a rear section at the rear of the foot, a mid-section connected to the rear section and a flexible or non-flexible portion connected to the upper piece at approximately the middle section covering said toe box section and
(a) said toe box being made from a flexible material,
(b) said toe box section when the shoe is resting on a flat surface is raised at the toes such that the end of the toe box section furthest from the heel is larger in elevation than the other end of the toe box section closest to the heel or
(c) said toe box section being made of a flexible material and said toe box section when the shoe is resting on a flat surface is raised at the toes such that the end of the toe box section furthest from the heel is larger in elevation than the other end of the toe box section closest to the heel.
9. The shoe as claimed in claim 8, wherein said toe box is connected to sole piece at the toe box section of said sole and the toe box section when the shoe is resting on a flat surface is raised at the toes such that the end of the toe box section furthest from the heel is larger in elevation than the other end of the toe box section closest to the heel.
10. The shoe as claimed in claim 9, wherein the raised toe box section is made of a flexible material.
11. The shoe as claimed in claim 10, wherein the raised toe box section is made of a flexible porous material.
12. The shoe as claimed in claim 9, further comprising a protective cover enclosing said toe box section.
13. The shoe as claimed in claim 12, wherein the protective cover is waterproof.
14. The shoe as claimed in claim 12, wherein the protective cover has an outside surface and an inside surface and said inside surface is the surface that makes contact to the user's foot when the shoe is worn and said inside surface is padded.
15. The shoe as claimed in claim 9, wherein said toe box is made from a flexible material.
16. The shoe as claimed in claim 10, wherein the flexible material is also porous.
17. The shoe as claimed in claim 15, further comprising a protective cover enclosing said toe box section.
18. The shoe as claimed in claim 17, wherein the protective cover is waterproof.
19. The shoe as claimed in claim 17, wherein the protective cover has an outside surface and an inside surface and said inside surface is the surface that makes contact to the user's foot when the shoe is worn and said inside surface is padded.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Description of the Invention

[0002] The invention is directed to various structures that greatly reduce and/or eliminate the toe pressure/restriction problems caused by the design of the front part of a shoe.

[0003] 2. Description of the Prior Art

[0004] Today, there exists many problems with the conventional shoe especially in the toe box section or region (the section of the shoe that contains the toes). The problems include:

[0005] 1. Cramped/crowded toes,

[0006] 2. Jammed toes,

[0007] 3. Strained toes,

[0008] 4. Toe nail pressure,

[0009] 5. Toe blisters,

[0010] 6. Toe callouses and

[0011] 7. Deformed toes.

[0012] Most of these problems are due to the presently pervasive design and structure of shoes, relative to the natural action of the toes and front part of the foot. These problems persist, despite either wise “proper shoe sizing”.

[0013] Most shoes taper inwardly and downwardly at the tip, toe or end of the shoe. The top material slopes downward to join the sole, the sole narrows to form a rounded, curved end. By contrast, the toes spread outwardly, and raise upwardly, particularly when pressure is applied to the foot, by standing, walking, running, playing sports such as soccer, basketball, baseball and football, etc. Thus, there is a major problem, because the fore foot/toes are restricted by the front design of the shoe. In addition, the problem is further aggravated by a number of other common problems which include:

[0014] 1. Thick socks,

[0015] 2. Sudden stops,

[0016] 3. Jumping,

[0017] 4. Lateral movement,

[0018] 5. Swelling and expansion of the toes during long period of use and

[0019] 6. One foot being larger than the other foot.

[0020] One of the most common problems that people encounter who wear shoes is toe problems. The socks take up more room in the shoe, thus putting more pressure on the toes. Forceful movements bring the toes into pressure contact with the front, top and side of the shoe at the toe box section, causing many of the aforementioned problems.

[0021] Thus there exists the conflicting situation, of a narrow sole at the front of the foot and a non-flexing material sloping downwardly and inwardly, that restrains the natural action of the toes and front foot, particularly during use, when pressure moves and expands the toes and front foot.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0022] The invention can have various structures that greatly reduce and/or eliminate the toe pressure problems caused by the design of the front part of the shoe commonly referred to the toe section or toe box section. The basic solutions are as follows:

[0023] 1. A completely open shoe at the toe box section. That is, there is no material above the toes, or no material, in front of, or on the side of the toes.

[0024] 2. A partially open toe box section, with a stretch or non-stretch material covering some of the toes (above, on the side or in the front). There can be one or more open sections.

[0025] 3. A completely closed top front of a shoe, that has a flexible, elastic, stretch type material in the front (top and/or the sides) of the shoe such as, but not limited to Spandex which includes LYCRA® a flexible material made by Dupont. The material also can be vented or porous to improve air flow, and thus reduce heat and moisture. The material covers at least one or more toes, preferably all of the toes. This flexible material permits movement of the toes even when the toes push on the flexible material. The material can flex upwardly and/or outwardly in a reduced/ or unrestrained manner.

[0026] 4. A completely closed toe box section of a shoe that has a partially flexible, and partially non-flexible, material in the toe box section.

[0027] 5. An enlarged toe box section that is enlarged or bulbed, upwardly and/or outwardly, to allow the toes extra room to flex and/or expand. In addition, a stretch or nonstretch material can be used.

[0028] The invention is drawn to a shoe for a human foot comprising a sole piece having a toe box section where the user's forefoot would be located, a middle section and a rear section where the user's heel would be located, an upper piece secured to the sole piece, said upper piece providing an enclosed embracing foot enclosure having a rear section at the rear of the foot, a mid-section connected to the rear section and a flexible or nonflexible portion connected to the upper piece at approximately the middle section covering said toe box section and connected to said sole piece at the toe box section of said sole and optionally the toe box section when the shoe is resting on a flat surface is raised at the toes such that the end of the toe box section furthest from the heel is larger in elevation than the other end of the toe box section closest to the heel.

[0029] A shoe as defined in this application includes all footware that has the toe problem described above, but is not limited to dress (which include men's shoes and women's pumps, high or tall heels), casual or athletic shoes, boots, such as but not limited to dress, casual (cowboy), military, law enforcement/police, hunting, fishing, hiking, working, snow, ski or skates (roller or ice).

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

[0030]FIG. 1 illustrates a side elevational view of an open toe shoe according to this invention;

[0031]FIG. 1A illustrates a perspective view of a partially opened toe shoe according to this invention;

[0032]FIG. 1B illustrates a front elevational view similar to FIG. 1A of vented panels in open areas;

[0033]FIG. 1C illustrates a front elevational view showing another toe design according to this invention;

[0034]FIG. 1D illustrates a front elevational view of still another toe design according to this invention;

[0035]FIG. 2 illustrates a side elevational view of another shoe toe design according to this invention;

[0036]FIG. 3 illustrates a side elevational view of still another shoe toe design according to this invention;

[0037]FIG. 3A illustrates a fragmental side elevational view similar to FIG. 3 of a further shoe design; and

[0038]FIG. 4 illustrates a fragmental side elevational view of still a further shoe design.

Detailed Description of the Invention

[0039]FIG. 1 shows a side elevational view of an opened toe shoe of this invention. The shoe 10 has a sole 12 which has an upper and lower surface. The lower surface of the sole 12 makes contact with a ground surface when the shoe is worn by the user. The shoe 10 has a foot enclosure material 14 that is connected to the sole 12. In FIG. 1, the user's toes are exposed and not covered with the foot enclosure 14. In other words, the shoe is open and the front of the foot including the top and sides of the toe box section is open and not inhibited by the shoe. There is a means to tighten the enclosure 14 by using a fastening means 16 such as, but not limited to lacing as shown in FIG. 1. In FIG. 1, there can be a welt 18 at the front end of the foot enclosure 14. The welt 18 can prevent the material of the foot enclosure 14 from unraveling and also provides more support and stability for the shoe 10.

[0040]FIG. 1A shows a perspective view of a partially opened toe shoe similar to that of FIG. 1. The shoe design can be similar to a sandal having a band 20 having one end of the band 20 connected to the foot enclosure 14 and/or welt 18 and the other end connected to the upper part of the front end of the sole 12. The band 20 can be made from a flexible or a non-flexible material. The band 20 can be off the center of the foot so that the band 20 could fit between the user's second and big toe like a conventional sandal. The band 20 could also be connected so that it connects the foot enclosure 14 and/or welt 18 with the sole 12, but would be located outside the user's toes preferably at the periphery of the sole. However, it is possible that the band 20 covers any portion of the front of the foot such as the little toe portion, middle toe portion and/or big toe portion. The band 20 can divide the open portion of the toe box section shoe in two sections. When there is more than one band 20, the number of open sections could increase to the amount of bands +1. Therefore, if there are three separate bands 20 located in the toe box section of the shoe, there could be four open sections (an open section on each side of each band).

[0041]FIG. 1B illustrates front elevational view of a similar embodiment to FIG. 1A, however, in this embodiment, the open sections are enclosed with a panel 22. The panel 22 can be made from a flexible material that is attached to the toe box section of the shoe at the welt 18 and/or foot enclosure 14 and the band 20 and sole 12 as shown in FIG. 1B. The panel 22 can also be vented or porous as described in FIG. 1D below. This section would be expandable and can permit a relatively non-restrictive movement of the toes. The panel 22 could also permit breathing and stretchability at the toe box section.

[0042]FIG. 1C shows a front elevational view of another completely closed toe area design of the shoe 10. The shoe has a band 20 and can have flexible panel 22 as described in FIG. 1B above. In addition, the shoe 10 can have a partially closed section 24 at the toe box as shown in FIG. 1C. The partially closed section 24 can be made from a non-flexible material. The non-flexible material 24 could provide added shape and stability to the shoe 10. The flexible panel 22 could go around the big toe through the middle toes. It is preferable that the non-flexible section 24 would be located to cover the user's smaller toes of the foot, thereby not impede the movement of the large toes.

[0043]FIG. 1D shows a front elevational view of another completely closed toe box section. In FIG. 1D, there can be a porous panel 26 located at the toe box covering at least the two big toes of a user when wearing the inventive shoe 10. In this figure about half of the toe box section of the shoe 10 is shown made of a non-flexible section 24 as described above in FIG. 1C and about the other half of the toe box is made from a porous panel 26. In this design, the toe box section is completely covered. The porous panel 26 would be made from a flexible material that would permit the toes to move freely.

[0044]FIG. 2 shows a side elevational view of another completely closed toe box design. The shoe 10 has a sole 12 that is connected to the foot enclosure 14. The fastening means as shown is a zipper 17. A flexible panel 32 would be connected to the foot enclosure 14 and sole 12. The flexible panel 32 would be similar to the flexible panel 22 as described in FIGS. 1B and 1C. At the toe box section, above the flexible panel 32 can be a protective shell 30 that could go across the upper part of the foot over the toes. Optionally, underneath the protective shell 30 can be padding 28. The padding 28 can provide more comfort for the toes.

[0045]FIG. 3 shows another completely closed toe design according to this invention. In FIG. 3, the toe box would be made of a non-flexible raised bulb section 36. The raised bulb section could provide the toes ample room to move around without being crowded. When the shoe is resting on a flat surface, the highest point of the raised toe section, would be higher in elevation than the highest point of the mid section 38 of the shoe. In FIG. 2 laces 40 are shown as the fastening means.

[0046]FIG. 3A shows a another completely closed shoe toe design very similar to FIG. 3 with the exception that raised bulb 36 is made of a flexible material instead of a non-flexible material. This would give the toes even more room to move around. Therefore, when the toes touch the sides of the bulb 36, the toes can move around easier by pushing the flexible material of the bulb 36 without any discomfort.

[0047]FIG. 4 shows a further completely closed shoe toe design similar to FIG. 3A except that the toe box does not have a raised bulb 36. Instead, the toe box is of a conventional design, but is made of a completely flexible material to permit easy movement of the toes. The flexible panel 32 is located at the toe box section of the shoe and is not raised. The toe box would have the conventional design with the front part being tapered downwardly having a flexible toe panel 32. There would be no restrictive or non-flexible material located at the front of the toe box section where the big toes are located.

[0048] In summary, the flexible toe panel can be made of a vented porous woven or non-woven material. There could be a protective shell outer cover on the top of a panel that could also be waterproof. A woven material can be incorporated into the stretch material, which can also be padded.

[0049] As stated above, the invention can be of various structures that greatly reduce and/or eliminate the toe pressure problems, caused by the design of the toe box section of a shoe. The basic solutions are as follows:

[0050] 1. A completely open front top of a shoe. That is, there is no material above the toes, or no material above, in front, or on the side of the toes.

[0051] 2. A partially open top/front, with a stretch or non-stretch material covering some of the toes. There can be one or more open sections.

[0052] 3. A completely closed top front of a shoe, that has a flexible, elastic, stretch type material in the front. The material can be vented or porous to improve air flow, and reduce heat and moisture. The material covers the toes in a way to allow one or more toes, preferably all of the toes, to flex upward/outward in a reduced, or non-restrained manner.

[0053] 4. A completely closed top front of a shoe that has a partially flexible, and partially non-flexible, material in the front toe portion.

[0054] 5. A front shoe/toe section that is enlarged or bulbed, upward and/or outward, to allow the toes extra room to flex/expand. A stretch or non-stretch material can be used.

[0055] The above materials can be padded/lined on the inside, to further reduce rub, pressure and moisture problems.

[0056] The above materials can be padded or lined on the inside, to further reduce rub, pressure and moisture problems. In addition, the toe box section materials can incorporate a hard shell/protective cover piece, over, in, or underneath the material(s), that protects the toes/front foot when kicking, such as in soccer or football, or from being stepped on in cleat shoe sports, such as soccer, baseball, football or field hockey, etc. or in work, where heavy objects can be dropped.

[0057] The preferred forms of the invention are completely closed section with a flexible toe box, with a partially flexible toe box covering the big toes and a non-flexible portion going across the small toes, or enlarged or bulbed toe box section, with most preferred case being the completely closed flexible toe box section. Shoes constructed in this way have the following benefits:

[0058] 1. Reduced toe pressure,

[0059] 2. Reduced toe cramping,

[0060] 3. Reduced toe jamming,

[0061] 4. Reduced toe strain and pain,

[0062] 5. Reduced nail pressure,

[0063] 6. Easier sizing,

[0064] 7. Better cooling and reduced heat,

[0065] 8. Reduced moisture,

[0066] 9. Better toe spread and balance,

[0067] 10. Less blisters,

[0068] 11. Less bunions and

[0069] 12. Reduced toe and foot deformity.

[0070] The invention will help greatly in the proper sizing of shoes, since it will be more forgiving in the toe box section. This is particularly true, because people often have different size feet.

[0071] The flexible stretchable material could be in other parts of the shoe as well, or the whole shoe could be constructed of a flexible material, though this is less desirable, because other parts of the foot need the support that is provided by a less flexible material.

[0072] The shoe material could be of a variable flexibility, so that the more flexible part could be cut for the toe section, and a lesser or non-flexible portion for the other parts of the shoe.

[0073] While there is shown and described herein certain specific structure embodying the invention, it will be manifest to those skilled in the art that various modifications and rearrangements of the parts maybe made without departing from the spirit and scope of the underlying inventive concept and that the same is not limited to the particular forms herein shown and described.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8516721Jan 10, 2011Aug 27, 2013Saucony Ip Holdings LlcArticles of footwear
US8782925Sep 3, 2013Jul 22, 2014Jennus Athletics CompanyAthletic shoe
US20100229426 *Mar 15, 2010Sep 16, 2010New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc.Pair of athletic shoes with asymmetric support between the uppers of the pair
US20120216426 *Feb 25, 2011Aug 30, 2012Birgit HixonOpen Toe Athletic Shoe
Classifications
U.S. Classification36/106, 36/77.00R, 36/45
International ClassificationA43B7/00, A43B23/08
Cooperative ClassificationA43B7/00, A43B23/081
European ClassificationA43B23/08T, A43B7/00