The History of the Running Shoe – from barefoot to barefoot
Ever wondered why running shoes are the way they are? With all the hype around barefoot running at the moment, it got me thinking about the history of the running shoe.
The history of the Running Shoe – Timeline
- 200,000 BC: The first humans on the planet didn’t wear anything on their feet…EVER!
- 8,000 BC: The first shoes resemble woven sandals.
- 1832: Wait Webster patents a process of adding rubber soles to both shoes and boots.
- 1860s: A new croquet shoe was born. This had a rubber sole, canvas shoe, and was fastened with laces. Because the shoe was ‘noiseless’ these were commonly worn by sneak thieves (thieves ‘sneak’ into, but don’t break into buildings). This is where the name sneakers came from. Wow, I never knew that!
- 1860s: Speciality shoes were made for the bicycle boom, and so heelless shoes were introduced.
- 1890s: Joseph William Foster founded the first sports shoe company. Taken over by his Grandson in 1958, it later became Reebok. Yes it would seem Reebok really did influence the history of the running shoe.
- 1894: Low cut shoes with upper soles made from Kangaroo leather were brought out by the Spalding Company. At this time the average family of four lived off just £7 week and the shoes would have cost £4. So running was very much for the affluent.
- 1900: The first rubber soled shoes were made in the US.
- 1917: A higher boot for basketball was introduced by Converse
- 1936: Adolf Dassler’s shoes were acknowledged internationally as the best.
- In 1948: Dassler then founded Adidas which later split into Adidas and Puma.
- 1974: The birth of the Nike Waffel trainer which allowed runners to land on their heel.
- 2005: Nike Free running shoes were launched, designed to enable the foot to move more freely.
- 2005: Vibram introduces the FivFingers with an extra thin sole and toes to enable you to land on your forefoot.
- 2011: Barefoot running becomes a $1.7 billion industry
All along – the tarahumara tribe of Mexico were still running only wearing old tyre strips or leather thongs on their feet. They are able to run non stop on their bare feet for miles on end! Have they had it right all along? A must read for all runners about the Tarahumara Tribe “Born to Run” > Buy here
Most recently, chainmail running shoes have been designed by a German company called Gost. With a RRP of £168, it will be interesting to see if the PaleoBarefoots take off! Have they really influenced the history of the running shoe?
It would be great to hear your thoughts about the history of the running shoe and how they have evolved. Where do you see things going next?
Paleo Barefoots ®