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Trainers take off
Around the Academy:

The latest line in trainers
Today's sports shoe lovers are spoilt for choice
Footwear companies grew in size and popularity throughout the 20th century, but it wasn't until the 1960s and 70s that technology really took off.

In the 70s science began to take a much bigger role, as manufacturers involved podiatrists (foot experts) in their product development.

This led to research into how humans run, and what happens to the shock from each step as it moves up the body.

The research found three general types of running style:

  • Neutral - where the heel hits the ground and the foot travels in a straight line as it moves forward

  • Pronation - where the heel hits the ground and the foot moves to the inside as it goes forward

  • Supernation - where the heel hits the ground and the outside of the foot is favoured as it moves forward.

Which type are you? Modern running shoes are tailored to suit certain types, so it's well worth finding out before you invest in your next pair.

Walking on air

Whether it's foam, silicon, air or gel, cushioning systems have become one of the most important aspects of the modern running shoe.

The 70s saw the development ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) - a substance made up of millions of tiny air bubbles that provides cushioning and absorbs shock.

Nike Air came on the market in 1979
The famous air cushioned sole

It was considered to be a major advance in footwear technology and is still widely used today.

Probably the most famous cushioning system comes from those clever people at Nike.

Introduced in 1979, Nike Air was the first trainer to incorporate an air bubble into the heel of the shoe.

Its phenomenal success led Nike's rivals to develop cushioned heels of their own, and the likes of Reebok, Asics and Brooks joined the race to find the ultimate in footwear cushioning.

Today, competition amongst sportswear companies is more intense than ever - and fashion is just as important as sporting performance.

Athletes are sponsored, events are laid on and fortunes are spent on advertising.

And with the Olympics just around the corner, expect to be bombarded with even more ways to spend your parents' cash!

Rubber revolution
Trainers take off

Feet first
For all the cool trainers on offer in the 70s and 80s, some athletes still preferred to run barefoot
Athletes like Zola Budd had successful careers without wearing running shoes
Most people opt for footwear these days - in 2003 Americans spent on average $50 (28) on a pair of sports shoes
Most top athletes are sponsored by sportswear companies to wear their gear
As the biggest sporting event in the world The Olympics is a golden opportunity for sportswear companies to get their products seen

:: Academy footwear guide

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