Sore feet pads, fallen arches, inward curving big toes, throbbing heels: hurting feet can be a misery to those who have embraced walking or running as their new pastime during the pandemic. The phenomenon has given rise to what is known as recovery footwear - functional footwear specifically designed to rehabilitate tired feet after exercise.
Footwear Innovation Lab GmbH and global chemical company Huntsman Corporation have collaborated on a new recovery sandal for runners, incorporating the foot function expertise of the former with the materials knowhow of the latter to create a light and durable sandal.
‘recoverToes’ sandals are made from two types of polyurethane from Huntsman.
Developed virtually during the last half of 2020, they went on widespread sale in mid-April.
The concept is a simple one. Forms of exercise, such as running, can cause feet to fatigue, get sore and tighten up. ‘recoverToes’ sandals can provide relief from these symptoms. Working like braces do on teeth, the sandals optimise the alignment of the big toes with a special footbed that spaces out the toes to significantly improve foot shape and structure, ease plantar pressure and stimulate foot nerve endings to improve circulation. The sandals feature an adjustable ToeRite toe spacer that keeps the big toe in the proper position during wearing.
As Head of Joe Nimble, Sebastian Bär, explained: “Joe Nimble is a young, vibrant brand, but we have 40 years’ experience behind us. My dad founded BÄR Shoes in the early 1980s. His mission was to produce shoes that offered a natural fit and carefree comfort.”
He continued: “Around the time we launched Joe Nimble, I contacted British biomechanics expert Lee Saxby to help fix my own running injuries. A friendship developed and, in 2017, we decided to combine Lee’s foot function knowledge with our ‘Functional Footwear’ expertise. Our first collaboration resulted in our ‘nimbleToes’ running and trail shoes. Now we’ve developed ‘recoverToes’."
The sandals are made using Huntsman’s Daltoped polyurethane footwear system technology. A low-density polyurethane, was used to make the soft inner part of the sandal. For the outer surface, which has an intricate design, Huntsman and Footwear Innovation Lab adapted a Daltoped Grip grade to work with the Stemma RPU spray concept. This unique system allowed complex bottom designs to be realized without having to worry about potential air bubbles. The system works with compact and expanding polyurethanes from Huntsman.
“When you consider that we only got involved in the project in October 2020; that all interactions were virtual; and that first customers received their sandals in January, it is remarkable,” said Johan Van Dyck, Global Polyurethanes Elastomers Applications Manager at Huntsman.
“With a sharp increase in running during the pandemic, now is the perfect time to launch this kind of product and we look forward to working with Footwear Innovation Lab and Joe Nimble on future projects.”
The sandals are available to buy online and in BÄR Shoes stores across Germany. International wholesale partners in Scandinavia, USA and Czech Republic – among others – will start their sales campaigns in May.