Monday, February 27, 2006

Pneumatic shoes

An old trick of surgical shoe makers to help accommodate the foot in a shoe was to place approximately 6mm thick padding on the under surface of the tongue of the shoe. In 1989 Reebok took the simple principle and incorporated into a high top basketball boot. The manually operated inflator encased the foot within the shoe, or so the theory went. One particular drawback to the original Reebok Pump was the pump could be inflated until it burst releasing less than environmentally friendly chemicals into the atmosphere. The original Reebok Pump was quickly withdrawn and back to the drawing board for the designers of pneumatic footwear.

Another pneumatic shoe from the same manufacturer was the ATR Pump performance basketball shoe. The ATR Pump was inflated manually by pumping the ball located on the outer ankle area of the shoe. The shoe can be inflated until it reached the athlete’s perfect custom fit. Subsequently, the pressure could be released to loosen the fit as the valve was held down. The ATR Pump also featured a herringbone, high abrasion outsole for traction and durability, a sculpted, ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA) midsole for lightweight pressure relief and ankle strap closure for support.

The second generation Reebok Pump , i.e. Pump 2.0 came two years later but unlike the original Pump, the new shoe had an air chamber located in the heel which automatically inflated after a few steps to mould the shoe to the feet. There was a "smart valve" located on the upper heel of the shoe which was designed to never allow inflation beyond 5 pounds per square inch (PSI) of pressure. This pressure was considered to be an optimal pressure point when a form fitting custom fit was required. The technology used by Reebok was created by NASA and MIT-trained engineers. According to the company the Pump 2.0 provided the wearer with an optimised fit for all foot shapes by simply inflating the chamber. The pneumatic shoe circumvented the need for laces and the shoe incorporated DMX Shear cushioning technology which according to the manufacturer, provided horizontal cushioning to help lessen and distribute the stress of runner’s heel strike. To remove the Pump 2.0, the athlete simply pressed the "smart valve." which released air to loosen the shoe.

Reviewed 14/12/2016

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