Decoding Design

Designing for good: Nike and Ossur unveil a running sole for amputee athletes

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The breakthrough running sole, designed to be used with Ossur's Flex-Run prosthetic blade, was inspired and co-developed by Sarah Reinertsen, amputee triathlete and world record holder.

Last week Nike Innovation introduced a breakthrough running sole, designed to be used with Össur's Flex-Run prosthetic blade for amputee athletes. The sole, sprung from Nike Innovation's collaboration with the leader in orthopedics known for their cutting-edge prosthetics, was inspired and co-developed by Sarah Reinertsen, amputee triathlete and world record holder.

In a market that's too small to have gotten much attention from designers, Nike Innovation and Össur took the time to further enable amputee athletes to perform the way they want. After all, "Not all competitive athletes have the privilege of competing without obstacles," says Nike.

The new design, called the Nike Sole, features an integrated layered sole that includes an outsole, midsole and a thermal plastic urethane called Aeroply -- made of recycled Nike Air Bag units-- that is used as what Nike calls the "moderator" between the sole and the Össur Flex-Run's carbon fiber blade.

Each Nike Sole has nine plastic tabs made from nylon that wrap like fingers to secure it around the blade, and making it easy to get on and off.

The first prototype that was tested by Reinertsen was made from the Nike Free 5.0 Trail outsole that was stuck to a plastic sleeve slid over the blade. Nike Innovation director Tobie Hatfield and Reinertsen worked together to make the adjustments necessary to create the final product.

Reinersten was born was a proximal femoral focal deficiency, and at age seven she had to have her leg amputated above the knee. However, she began to run track and broke the world record for the 100-meter for female above-the-knee amputees when she was just thirteen, making her the perfect person to develop this new product with.

“The Össur Flex-Run enables amputees of all abilities to achieve their athletic goals,” said Jon Sigurdsson, Össur’s president and CEO. “This exciting collaboration has leveraged Össur’s unmatched research and development in running prosthetics with Nike’s first-class technologies, resulting in a product unlike any other.”

The Flex-Run with Nike Sole is now available in prosthetists' offices around the world.

More pictures below:

[Reuters]
Images and Video: Nike

Beth Carter

Contributing Editor

Beth Carter is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. She has worked for Catalyst magazine, the New York Times Syndicate, BBC Travel and Wired. She holds degrees from the University of Oregon and New York University. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure