Virtual Teamwork Delivers Relief for Runners
At the height of the pandemic, outdoor activities such as running grew in popularity. Unable to go to the gym or exercise classes because of COVID-19, people took to pounding the pavement in huge numbers. To support both new and experienced runners, ‘functional footwear’ specialist Joe Nimble launched its first recovery sandal for runners in Q2 2021 – with assistance from Footwear Innovation Lab GmbH and Huntsman.
The so-called ‘recoverToes’ sandals, which are designed to rehabilitate tired feet after exercise and are made from polyurethane, were developed virtually during the last half of 2020. The concept behind ‘recoverToes’ is simple. Forms of exercise, such as running, can cause feet to fatigue, get sore and tighten up.
‘recoverToes’ sandals provide relief from these symptoms. Working like braces do on teeth, the sandals optimize the alignment of the big toes with a special footbed that spaces out the toes. This significantly improves foot shape and structure, eases plantar pressure and stimulates foot nerve endings to improve circulation.
Easy to slip on and off, and available in three colors, the sandals feature an adjustable "ToeRite®" toe spacer based on Joe Nimble’s TOEFREEDOM® technology.
‘recoverToes’ sandals are made from two types of polyurethane from Huntsman. The use of Huntsman’s material was recommended by Footwear Innovation Lab GmbH, which teamed up with Head of Joe Nimble, Sebastian Bär, to bring his recovery sandal concept to life in record time.
Explaining more, Sebastian said: “From the start we knew what we wanted to achieve with ‘recoverToes’ and we knew we wanted to use a very high-quality polyurethane material. After making a first prototype with Footwear Innovation Lab we discussed the properties we wanted the sandals to have and how best to scale up production. Having worked together in the past, Jens and the team at Footwear Innovation Lab quickly recommended Huntsman as our material partner.”
Jens Schmidt, CEO of Footwear Innovation Lab, said: “When Sebastian approached us about ‘recoverToes’, we knew there was only one company that could take control of the chemistry. Huntsman is incredibly entrepreneurial, and its’ team works in a really agile way. Always open to ideas, its footwear experts go out of their way to find solutions to technical challenges. With ‘recoverToes’ our mission was to find a polyurethane with excellent flowability that could replicate the complicated mould design. Huntsman delivered on that brief.”
‘recoverToes’ is made using Huntsman’s DALTOPED® polyurethane footwear system technology. DALTOPED® Aqua PUR, 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 allows complex designs to be realized without having to worry about potential air bubbles.
Johan Van Dyck, Global Polyurethanes Elastomers Applications Manager at Huntsman, said: “From start to finish this was a fast-paced project and there was great dynamic between everyone involved – as evidenced by the rapid turnaround. When you consider that we only got involved in the project in October 2020 and that all interactions were virtual, it is remarkable. ‘recoverToes’ is going to be a hugely popular line for Joe Nimble.”
Joe Nimble’s ‘recoverToes’ sandals are available to buy online, in BÄR Shoes stores across Germany, and from international wholesale partners in Scandinavia, USA and Czech Republic – among others.