University of Exeter: New shoe helps older women stay active

The University of Exeter and shoemaker Cosyfeet received funding from Innovate UK to develop the shoes, to support healthy ageing.

The design was developed using surveys, focus groups, lab and mechanical tests and Exeter’s state-of-the-art VSimulator.

The Sport Active collection is now on sale, providing comfortable footwear for older women playing court sports such as tennis, badminton and netball.

“This was a true collaboration, bringing together Cosyfeet’s expertise in developing comfortable shoes for older adults, and our experience of quantifying the demands on joints and footwear during exercise,” said Dr Sharon Dixon, of the University of Exeter.

“The process began with the joint development of an initial prototype, and changes were made based on feedback and physical tests in the lab and the VSimulator.

“The result is a wider shoe with stability and traction characteristics informed by user groups, biomechanical and mechanical testing.

“We found that less aggressive lateral stability was required for older compared with young players, likely influenced by lower joint range of movement.

“We hope the Viva and Vamos shoes will help active older women continue playing sport.”

Women involved in the study were aged 55-70, and their input included both physical testing and surveys regarding footwear needs and requirements.

Mechanical testing to assess grip was carried out at the University of Sheffield, and the results show the shoes have good grip in both wet and dry conditions.

Cosyfeet Managing Director Andrew Pierce said: “At Cosyfeet our focus is on providing footwear designed to accommodate and support swollen feet, a condition often associated with the elderly.

“Working with the research team from the University of Exeter has provided us with the unique opportunity to introduce sports footwear into our range that has been specially designed and fully tested for the more mature wearer.

“It has been interesting and rewarding to combine the design and shoemaking skills from our expert craftspeople with the knowledge acquired from the laboratory testing conducted by the University of Exeter; and we are delighted with outcome.

“The new Cosyfeet Sport Active collection launches for spring 2022 and combines excellent comfort and support for the older foot while providing a high level of sports performance.

“This is ideal for those of our customers who wish to participate in sports and enjoy a more active lifestyle for longer.”

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