Monday, July 08, 2013
The ToPo Athletic Tabi Running Shoe
ToPo Athletic have launched a new line of lightweight running shoes with split toes. The brainwave of former CEO of Vibram USA , Tony Post was responsible for the FiveFingers . Now the shoe innovator has started V the American outpost of a Italian footwear company. Post has been designing shoes for almost 30 years and took inspiration from the shoes worn by Shigeki Tanaka who won the Boston Marathon in 1951 wearing tabi style running shoes.
Tabi were traditionally worn with Zōri (Tatami Sandals) from the 1st Century AD and were a white cotton foot covering (like socks) with a split toe between the big toe and the other four toes. Tabi were the only foot coverings traditionally permitted on the tatami mat-covered floors inside Japanese houses. Very much later tabi were made of more robust fabrics and worn as soft shoes and boots.
Zōri were flat bottomed sandals made of straw with a leather thong between the first and second toes. According to Post freedom to move the big toe independently of the others allows adjustments to be made with optimal leverage strength of the big toe. Currently there are three models available: the RR (road race) version, the RT, a road training running shoe, and the RX for crosstraining. The RR version features a cord made of 49 woven steel fibers instead of laces similar lacing system to snowboard boots. The shoes are priced between $100 and $130 US.
(Ed. It is possible the separate pocket which houses the lesser toes could give the weightbearing foot a certain mechanical advantage to the Windlass action which takes place during take off. This might result in increased muscle tone to the intrinsic foot muscles.)