United States Patent 3586003

A flat foot is supported by abutment on the inside of the foot to the first cuneiform bone and to the heel bone by a structure built into a shoe or inserted into a standard shoe including a first flange abutting the inside of the foot and a second horizontal flange underlying the foot arch and supporting the first flange in upright position, the first flange having a first forward portion abutting a portion of the first cuneiform bone and a second rear portion abutting a portion of the heel bone, the upper edge of the first flange intermediate the first and second portions being immediately below the level of the navicular bone.

Application Number:
Publication Date:
Filing Date:
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A43B7/14; (IPC1-7): A43B7/14
Field of Search:
128/586,593,607,608,581,610,612,166.5,620,621 36
View Patent Images:
US Patent References:
2786282Arch support1957-03-26Falk
2713732Foot-arch supports1955-07-26Guest
2156086Orthopedic shoe1939-04-25Hack et al.
1952538Arch support1934-03-27Devine

Foreign References:
Primary Examiner:
Gaudet, Richard A.
Assistant Examiner:
Yasko J.
I claim

1. A substantially rigid support member for supporting a flat foot which is adapted to be inserted in a shoe, said support member consisting of

2. The subject matter of claim 1 including a shoe in which said shoe has an insole and an outsole and said second flange is disposed between said insole and outsole, and said member is built into the shoe.

3. The subject matter of claim 2 in which said shoe has upper portions and upper liner portions and in which said single upright flange is disposed between said upper and upper liner portions.

4. The subject matter of claim 3 in which said shoe is of Goodyear Welt type with a welt and an insole depending flange and said welt and said insole depending flange are removed in the area of said member to permit said member to permit said member to extend from between said insole and outsole to between said upper and upper liner portions.

5. The subject matter of claim 2 in which said second flange is secured to said insole.

6. The subject matter of claim 1 in which said member includes a sheetlike element of metal and said element having ridges longitudinal and transverse for strengthening said element.

7. The subject matter of claim 6 in which said sheetlike element is of spring steel which is bent to form said ridges, and said element having a cloth covering to minimize wear of metal edges.

8. The subject matter of claim 1 in which there is a padding on top of said second flange and generally to conform to the shape of the underside of the foot arch to assist in locating said member in place when inserted in a shoe, and a covering of leather or the like enclosing said member and padding.


My invention relates to a means and method for supporting a flat foot which works on the side of the foot rather than supporting the arch from underneath. A removable arch-support type structure, or the equivalent built into the shoe, abuts the first cuneiform and heel bones and has an upper edge underlying the navicular bone.


Reviewing the state of the art before my invention, it can be said that a satisfactory solution to the relief of flat feet has not been achieved. The common solution to problems of flat feet has been the so-called arch support which provides padding and structure abutting the fleshy underside of the arch. This gives some relief in certain cases but the conventional arch-support is basically unsatisfactory due to misalignment of bones (compared to the normal foot), due to support of too much of the body weight on the inside of the foot, and due to having no tendency to build muscles for normal support of the arch (and, in fact, perhaps being conducive to deterioration of normal foot muscle functions). The unsatisfactory state of the art before my invention has had several consequences including inability of the prior arch-support to adequately support some feet (so that some people with flat feet cannot engage in certain types of work and activities), including discomfort of persons with flat feet, and including poor postures due to misalignment of the skeletal body support which is based on the foundation of the feet. It is a purpose of my invention to improve upon these circumstances. Of course, the best foot is the normal healthy foot, but is is an objective of my invention to provide a better support or aid to a flat foot than has hitherto been provided.

A principal purpose of the present invention is to restrain the ankle bone (the talus) and the navicular bone to their natural positions, that is to prevent abnormal slipping or inward turn or roll of these bones, of which the navicular is the most prominent, by protrusion on the inside of the foot below and forward of the ankle bone, in a standing or sitting position. Another statement of the objective is: both in stationary position and in walking action to keep the weight of the body primarily on the outside of the feet, as compared with the conventional arch-support which takes the principal weight sagging on the inside of the feet. The outer edge of the feet should carry 80 percent of a person's weight. It is an objective of my invention to substantially hold the foot so that the talus and the navicular cannot slip into abnormal positions, to hold the first, second, and third cuneiform bones and the cuboid in place, and thereby to hold the fifth metatarsal bone in place, which, in turn, is conducive to the spreading of the toes in the manner of a healthy foot in standing, sitting and walking.

It is a further objective of my invention to utilize and strengthen the muscles of the foot by substantially normal and natural exercising (including spreading of the toes) with each step. This action can be illustrated by spreading the toes in which it will be noted the arch is automatically raised. It is an objective, compared with the unsupported flat foot or the flat foot supported by the common arch-support, to take pressure off of bones that are not designed to carry excess weight and to place the weight on the bones that are designed, by nature, for the purpose of carrying weight. Another way of stating this is that the bones of the foot are maintained under my invention with the most natural, normal positions, functions and actions feasible.

Further objectives of my invention include: to provide foot support means which can be built into a shoe (preferably on a mass production basis) or can be provided in a separate structure which can be inserted into a standard shoe; in the case of a built-in support, particularly to adapt a Goodyear Welt shoe for this purpose; in the case of the built-in support, preferably to avoid or minimize special fitting so that the support will be provided basically by purchasing a shoe of proper size; to provide a support that does not lead to muscle deterioration and instead encourages normal muscle functioning as in a healthy foot; and to provide the support in an economical and durable construction which also minimizes or avoids special forming processes in fitting a support to a foot.

My invention will be best understood, together with additional objectives and advantages thereof, from a reading of the following description, read with reference to the drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a side view illustrating the inside of a foot, the bones of the foot, and the relationship thereto of the support element of a specific embodiment of my invention.

FIG. 2 is a side view of the inside of a shoe, the shoe upper being broken away to show a support element built into the shoe according to my invention.

FIG. 3 is a bottom view of a shoe under construction illustrating the process of building the support into the shoe, the shoe manufacture being illustrated at the point after the (partial) welt has been added to the Goodyear Welt shoe depicted, but before the filler or outsole have been added.

FIG. 4 is a view partly in cross section taken in the area of the forward flange portion of support element in a shoe having the support element built-in, bones particularly metatarsals in the area of the viewing plane being generally indicated.

FIG. 5 is like FIG. 4 except being a view of a shoe having a removable support.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a support element to be built into a shoe.

FIGS. 7, 8 and 9 are, respectively side, perspective and top views of a support element to be used with a removable arch support.

FIG. 10 is a sectional view taken on line 10-10 of FIG. 9.

The situation in the prior art before my invention has been described above. Observations believed to be fundamental to my invention include: (a) the foot is constructed in a most complex way and with most complex functioning in relation to bones, tendons and muscles, (b) the foot is basic to skeleton support, and (c) in aid of a flat foot, the more that normal functioning and relationships of bones, tendons and muscles can be achieved, the better the results directly in foot functioning and indirectly in body posture. In fact, the ultimate would be if a completely normal arch could be restored by exercises or otherwise, but such restoration has not been achieved to my knowledge as yet, if it is indeed possible. My approach essentially is to maintain bones generally in normal position so that bones, tendons and muscles may have as nearly normal relationships and actions as possible. Implicit in the above discussion is the observation that the normal so-called arch-support is unnatural in supporting weight too much on the inner lower surface of the arch and in interference with or substitution for normal bone, tendon and muscle relationships, functions and actions. My purpose is to restrain, by abutment from the inside, the slipping of the ankle, first cuneiform and navicular bones too far out of their normal positions, so in this way to try to preserve normal relationships and functionings of bones, tendons and muscles, as compared to the unsupported flat foot or the flat foot with the common so-called arch-support. Restraint of movement of the first cuneiform bone is fundamental to my method.

I will first describe the (substantially) rigid element 10 of my support and its relationship to the foot, and then I will describe its incorporation in a separable arch support that can be inserted in a standard shoe, and finally I will describe the building in of the rigid element into a shoe during its manufacture. The expression "flat foot" is a matter of degree. In the worst cases, perhaps in a deterioration starting in early childhood, the foot may be rather hopelessly distorted and crippled, so I am referring to the normal range of flat feet. The adaptability of the invention to mass production (at reasonable prices) in shoe manufacture suggests the feasibility of my structure being sold in shoes in the market for those constantly on their feet during work (such as some policemen, retail clerks or nurses) which shoes have one or another feature or aid for foot comfort or support as against tired feet, whether or not the feet would be termed being flat, having weak arches or ankles, or being "normal" but overused in standing or walking.

Rigid element 10 normally will be formed from flat metal stock, such as a type of spring steel, although it could be formed, cast or molded from other relatively rigid material such as certain plastics. Of course some springing in element 10 is permissible but it should be substantially rigid. When built into a shoe, it would even be possible to build up a sufficient body of leather to act as a relatively rigid element, particularly because there is support of the element to some extent at the rear by the strength of the heel shoe structure and at the front by the strength of the upper structure (sometimes tied) which is stretched around the front of the foot, but the leather would have to be too thick for appearance, economy, etc., to support a moderately flat foot and normally a metal element will be most applicable.

Rather than otherwise to use a thicker piece of metal, it is preferable to form element 10 with ribs (i.e., forming ribs on the inside and grooves on the outside) following the well known principle that such forming adds rigidity to a structure. In the FIG. 6 built-in construction, it will be seen that the ribs of element 10a include central transverse rib 12, one or more longitudinal ribs 14, and ribs 16 which start longitudinally and then curve transversely. In the FIGS. 7--10 structure adapted for a separable, slip-in arch support, element 10b is shown with two longitudinal ribs 14, one transverse rib 12, and two partly transverse, partly longitudinal ribs 16. It will be understood elements 10 can be formed from flat stock by punching out flat blanks and then bending the blanks in a die by hammering, heating and/or pressing (followed by heat-treat particularly if heating is involved).

Rigid elements 10a, 10b have first flanges 20a, 20b abutting the inside of the foot and second horizontal flanges 22a, 22b having free edges supporting the first flange 20 in upright position. Second horizontal flange 22 having a free edge holds first flange 20 upright by pressure from the foot in the case of the removable support of FIGS. 5 and 7--10 and by being secured fixedly in the shoe in the case of the built-in support of FIGS. 2--4 and 6. The first flanges have a first forward portion 24 abutting a portion of the first cuneiform bone 26 and have a second rear portion 28 abutting the heel bone 30. The concave upper edge 34 of first flange 20 intermediate first portion 24 and second portion 28 is immediately below the level of the navicular bone 36. In movement of the foot the navicular bone 36 has the greatest sidewise movement so it is not feasible to provide a rigid abutment although the pressure of edge 34 on the flesh one-eighth or one-fourth inch below the level of the navicular bone could have minimal restraining force. The principal restraint is on the first cuneiform bone 26 which is restrained by portion 24 of first flange 20 from moving far from its position in a normal foot. Rear portion 28 of first flange 20 applies some restraint on heel bone 30 and further stabilizes the first flange relative to the heel bone.

During weight application on the foot or during walking, body weight applied to the arch through the ankle bone or talus 40 is directed substantially according to a normal arch because first flange 20 prevents excess slipping of the arch to the inside of the foot and down which means that if the bones are held substantially in the position of the normal arch, and the body weight is carried about 80 percent on the outside of the arch. It may also be observed that when the foot is led to have substantially normal functioning, the toes spread in walking which is a normal foot action and interrelates with the other foot bones through the metatarsal bones to hold the arch up in place, whereas with the normal flat foot the arch has slipped into the inside and the toes have little tendency to spread to help the holding of the arch up in normal position.

I will first describe the removable support of FIGS. 5 and 7--10. This has somewhat the appearance of conventional removable arch support, although the function of my support is not to hold the arch by abutment from beneath. On occasion, removable arch supports have been molded entirely from plastic, but the form of removable arch support I have illustrated and will describe is of the type with a metal structural element 10 and a covering of leather or the like. The contour of my support generally conforms to the rear contour of the inside of the shoe to assist in locating the support in place. My removable arch support has an upper and lower leather covering 50 with edges (which define the overall contour in plan view) which may be sewn or glued together. The rigid element 10b is preferably covered with linen cloth 52 to minimize wear of sharp edges on the leather. A padding 54 in the central portion of the support generally conforming to the shape of the foot arch, has a tendency to center the structure under the foot arch but is not adapted for support of the foot. It will be understood my removable support can be used in any number of conventional shoes. In FIG. 5 the conventional Goodyear Welt shoe is illustrated which will be reviewed so that the modification as FIG. 4 will be understood. This conventional Goodyear Welt shoe in FIG. 5 has uppers 60, upper liner 62, insole 64, welts 66, outsole 68, and a filler 70. The shoe has sewing 72 through the depending flanges 74 of insole 64, upper 60, upper liner 62 and welt 66, and has stitching 76 through welt 66 and outsole 68.

Turning to the built-in structure particularly shown in FIG. 2--4, the rigid element 10a is disposed between upper 60 and upper liner 62 and between insole 64 and outsole 68. It is given a cloth cover 52 as in the case of the removable support. FIGS. 2--4 shows a modified Goodyear Welt shoe in which the welt 66 on the inside of the shoe is stopped forward of the area of the arch support. As shown particularly in FIGS. 3 and 6, in forming the shoe the flange 22a has openings 80 and is tacked to the insole 64 before the outsole 68 is secured in place. In the area 82 where the welt is absent, the outsole 68 is tacked or cemented in place. Note that the insole 64 has only one flange 74 on the outside in the area of the support, the other flange being cut away to permit insertion of elements 10a in the area where otherwise an inner flange 74 would be positioned. Of course the filler 70 is also less extensive in the area of this support.

It will be understood by those working in the art how the rigid element may be built into other types of shoes, but the illustration of the Goodyear Welt shoe has been used because it is the most common type of shoe manufactured, and poses the problems of insertion of the metal piece in the area of the welt and insole flange.

The shape of first flange 20 (together with any inside covering such as upper liner 62 in FIG. 4 or covering 50 in FIG. 5, which covering will usually conform closely to the contour of flange 20 as it is of substantially uniform thickness and in complete abutment) should conform to the shape of the user's foot in the condition without much weight on the foot, such as in sitting. The shoe of FIG. 4 with the built-in support 10a is preferably a mass-produced product, rather than being made to fit a particular foot. However, a suitable fit is generally obtained if support element 10a is made to fit the last upon which the shoe is made, i.e., the foot resembles the last of the shoe which properly fits the foot.

The removable arch support of FIG. 5 can either be a mass produced item or may be individually fitted to the foot. In the off-the-shelf market, a fit depends on shoe size, much the same as the relationship between shoe size, shoe last, and foot in the built-in support shoe. Note, however, that the element 10b and its covering take room in a shoe, so that a person needs to purchase a shoe for use with an arch support in a wider size than he otherwise would use.

At least part of the use of my support may be accomplished or prescribed by podiatrists, in which process particularly a removable arch support is built to the patient's foot, or to a plaster cast of the foot. In this case an element 10b can be made from a basic material and shaped to the foot, or the element 10b can be selected from a centrally manufactured range of sizes which are preshaped or are provided as flat blanks of the right dimensions but requiring shaping, etc.

As mentioned before, the action of front flange portion 24 on the first cuneiform bone is of fundamental importance. The ankle bone, abutted by rear flange portion 28, needs less restraint. Note, also, that the laced or buckled shoe, particularly common for men, closes and tenses at the front of the shoe, in the area of the first cuneiform bone, so particularly front flange portion 24 has a wraparound action relative to the first cuneiform bone. It is important, therefore, not to have front flange portion 24 extend too far forward or upward, as viewed in horizontal, vertical or slanted sectional planes, and particularly with a low arched foot, because element 10 will have too much tendency to dig into the skin or bone in a bending process in being tensed around the first cuneiform bone. One way or another the patient's foot must be generally fit. Too much deviation between the contour of the inside of the foot and the contour of upper flange 20, or if medial upper edge 34 is too high relative especially to the navicular bone, or if forward flange portion 24 extends too far forward or too high, will result in foot discomfort, or will result in abrasion of the skin or pressure on the bones to the extent that the patient has to get out of the shoe or get rid of the support. Experience has proven that skin abrasion or excessive bone pressure does not occur if the support is properly fit. The standard for fit is generally that the closer the contour of first flange 20 is to the contour of the foot, the better, and difficulty can be avoided or rectified by closer simulation of these contours. A secondary standard on fit has been related above, that edge 34 can be too high or flange portion 24 can extend too high or too far forward, in which case the cure is to not extend these edges so far.

Most arch supports will fit better or give more complete support in a laced or buckled shoe, but particularly women may want to have arch support in slip-on shoes without lacing or buckling because of appearance and style. My arch support applies to such slip-on shoes, although some sacrifice of effectiveness is usually involved because the foot is not fit as closely in the areas of navicular and first cuneiform bones because of the extra room needed for slipping on, i.e., note a laced shoe is loosened for putting on and taking off. As abutment to the side of the foot is important in my invention, the extra room involved in a slip-on shoe involves some lesser effectiveness of the arch support, although this is merely a generalization as there are many kinds of shoes and methods of shoe construction, and there are various ways to install the basic foot support element 10, i.e., in a slip-on shoe elastically tensed horizontally around the foot at the upper edge of the shoe, one has to deal with the method of integration of element 10 rather than with any lack of shoe snugness, etc.

My foot or arch support has worked out very well in practice. A warning should be given to new users of my arch support, particularly those with "lazy feet" due to the use of conventional arch supports which are in the nature of "crutches." My arch support tends to restore normal action of bones, tendons and muscles. This means that the muscles of such new user will be given additional exercise (of the type normal to a normal foot) and he will have a feeling of foot tiredness due to this increased exercise of muscles until such time as something like normal muscular tone is restored. The time taken (often a period of weeks) to get over the feeling of tiredness will depend partly on the person, his foot, and the amount and kind of foot usage. The warning is given so that the person will have the reaction, "The arch support is working because my muscle tiredness tells me that muscular tone is being restored," rather than the reaction, "The arch support doesn't work because my feet are tireder." With my support, as compared with a conventional arch support, the user should become conscious of better tactile feeling for the ground, partly due to more spreading of the toes. The user can help in the restoration process by trying to consciously spread the toes, to get increased exercise, etc. In the long run, most users will find their feet to be more comfortable with my foot support, i.e., the user may engage in some feet-involved activities he has not engaged in before (such as certain sports), or he may be able to withstand increased activity involving the foot, or he may have less sense of tiredness after the initial process of restoring muscular tone, or he may have better foot usage, i.e., nimbleness, better feeling of the ground (with spread toes and otherwise), etc.

From the foregoing, the nature of my invention and some modes of application of my invention will be understood. Further modifications may occur to those working in the art, within their expected skill, after learning of my invention, and I do not wish to be limited to the exact details of the disclosed embodiments, but instead to cover such modifications within the proper scope of my invention.