Title:
Self stabilizing adjustable dihedral heel assembly and shoe including the same
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A shoe having an upper, a sole and an adjustable heel assembly including a first heel member connected to the sole at a rear portion thereof and a second heel member arranged at least partially within the first heel member. The second heel member is movable relative to the first member between a first position in which the first and second heel members provide the heel with a first height and a second position in which the first and second heel members provide the heel with a second height greater than the first height. An improved self stabilizing second heel member with a beveled bottom surface is provided which has a first contact surface contacting the ground in the first position and a second contact surface contacting the ground in the second position.



Inventors:
Bucalo, Gladys L. (Aventura, FL, US)
Application Number:
10/992536
Publication Date:
05/18/2006
Filing Date:
11/18/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A43B7/16
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
MOHANDESI, JILA M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Cozen O''Connor (New York, NY, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A heel assembly for a shoe, comprising: a first outer heel member having an interior compartment; a second inner heel member at least partially situated in said interior compartment, said second heel member being movable between a first position in said interior compartment providing said heel assembly with a first height and a second position in said interior compartment providing said heel assembly with a second height; said second inner heel having a beveled bottom surface region.

2. A heel assembly as recited in claim 1, wherein said beveled bottom surface region of said inner heel member comprises a first contact surface and a second contact surface.

3. A heel assembly as recited in claim 2, wherein said first contact surface contacts a ground when the inner heel member is in a lowered position.

4. A heel assembly as recited in claim 2, wherein said second contact surface contacts a ground when the inner heel member is in a raised position.

5. A heel assembly for a shoe, comprising: a first outer heel member having an interior compartment; a second inner heel member at least partially situated in said interior compartment, said second heel member being movable between a first position in said interior compartment providing said heel assembly with a first height and a second position in said interior compartment providing said heel assembly with a second height; and a beveled attachment for attaching to said second inner heel member.

6. A heel assembly as recited in claim 5, wherein said beveled attachment comprises a first contact surface and a second contact surface.

7. A heel assembly as recited in claim 6, wherein said first contact surface contacts a ground when the second inner heel member is in a lowered position.

8. A heel assembly as recited in claim 6, wherein said second contact surface contacts a ground when the second inner heel member is in a raised position.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to adjustable heel assemblies and shoes having adjustable heel assemblies which enable shoes to be worn at multiple heel heights and, more particularly, to adjustable heel assemblies of the type which include a first heel member having an interior compartment and a second heel member at least partially receivable within the interior compartment for movement between at least first and second positions providing the heel assembly with respective first and second heights. An improved self stabilizing second heel member is provided having a beveled bottom surface region.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Currently available high-heel shoes for women have a relatively large heel which is fixed to the sole and have a single, predetermined height. This fact has some significant disadvantages for the wearer. In particular, individuals wearing high-heel shoes often experience fatigue or discomfort in their feet because the high heel requires the foot to be bent into an unnatural position. It is also known that prolonged wearing of high-heel shoes can lead to more serious foot problems. Furthermore, some women prefer to wear shoes with relatively low heels at one time of the day, for example, while commuting to work, and then change to shoes with relatively high heels while at work and again back to the shoes with low heels after work.

In order to relieve foot fatigue or discomfort, prevent the development of foot problems or meet personal preferences, a woman is therefore compelled to change from shoes having a relatively high heel to another pair of shoes with a different, lower heel height. It is inconvenient to carry another such pair of shoes and the process of changing shoes is very time consuming.

Applicants have proposed several arrangements of adjustable heel assemblies in their U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,887,360, 6,021,586, 6,578,289, and 6,785,987, the disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference, which include first outer heel members having interior compartments and second inner heel members at least partially receivable within the interior compartments for movement between at least first and second positions relative to the first heel member. Various locking mechanisms for releasably locking the heel members to each other when the inner heel member is at either the first or the second position are disclosed which releasably fix the heel assemblies to each other at either the first or the second position to provide the heel assembly with a respective first or second height.

In some adjustable heel assemblies, the inner heel member is not entirely satisfactory during use because a wearer may not be able to maintain stability and remain balanced due to the inflexibility of the sole of the shoe. When moving the adjustable heel assembly between first and second positions, the sole does not bend because of a metal shank embedded in the sole. As a result, when the shoe is worn with the inner heel block in the second lowered position with the toe area contacting the ground, both the inner heel member and the outer heel member are tilted forward so that the inner heel block contacts the ground with only a narrow surface of a front edge. Since the surface of the front edge has a minuscule surface area in contact with the ground, there is low traction for the wearer which could result in slipping or falling. Furthermore, as the wearer walks, a minuscule surface area in contact with the ground coupled with lateral shifts in the wearer's weight may cause the shoe to rock sideways. This side to side instability could easily lead to a twisted or broken ankle.

Therefore, for the reasons stated above, there is currently a need for an adjustable heel assembly having an inner heel block which has sufficient contact with the ground when the adjustable heel assembly is in the first and second positions. The present invention overcomes the limitations of the prior art by including an adjustable heel assembly comprising an outer heel casing and an inner heel block having a beveled bottom surface region.

OBJECTS AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide new and improved adjustable heel assemblies and shoes incorporating the same.

Another object of the present invention is to provide new and improved adjustable heel assemblies of the type which include a first heel member having an interior compartment and a second heel member at least partially receivable within the interior compartment for adjustable movement between the two height positions, and shoes incorporating the same.

Still another object of the present invention is to provide a new and improved adjustable heel assembly and shoes incorporating the same, of the type having an improved second heel member with a beveled bottom surface.

A further object of the present invention is to provide a new and improved adjustable heel assembly and shoes incorporating the same, of the type having inner and outer heel members, the inner heel member having a beveled bottom surface forming a non-coplanar dihedral angle.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a new and improved adjustable heel assembly and shoes incorporating the same, of the type having an inner heel member having a beveled attachment on its bottom surface.

It is yet a further object of the present invention is to provide a new and improved adjustable heel assembly and shoes incorporating the same, of the type having inner heel member having a beveled bottom surface which provides sufficient traction with the ground at both height positions and prevents a wearer from slipping, falling or twisting an ankle.

It is still another object of the present invention is to provide a new and improved adjustable heel assembly and shoes incorporating the same, having a new and improved second heel member with a beveled bottom surface which is self stabilizing at both height positions.

Briefly, these and other objects are attained by providing in a first embodiment a heel assembly including a first outer heel member having an interior compartment, a second heel member at least partially situated in the compartment so as to be movable between a first position providing the heel assembly with the first height and a second position providing the heel assembly with a second height. The second heel member is provided with a beveled bottom surface having a first contact surface and a second contact surface.

The first contact surface and the second contact surface form a non-coplanar dihedral angle which permits sufficient traction with the ground when second heel member is in both the first position or the second position. The first contact surface contacts the ground when the second heel member is in the first raised position, which provides the heel assembly with the first decreased height. The second contact surface contacts the ground when the second heel member is in the second lowered position, which provides the heel assembly with the second increased height.

The beveled bottom surface permits more contact area with the ground and thus uniformly distributes gravitational forces on the second heel member and the first outer heel member, and eliminates the tendency of the first outer heel member and the second heel member to tilt during normal walking.

In a second embodiment a second heel member may be shorter than the second heel member of the first embodiment and include a beveled attachment. The beveled attachment includes a plurality of prongs which are inserted into a plurality of openings in a bottom of the first outer heel member. The beveled bottom surface of the second heel member of both embodiments provides stabilization of the heel assembly at the first and second positions so that a wearer does not slip, fall or twist an ankle joint.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A more complete appreciation of the present invention and many of the attendant advantages thereof will be readily understood by reference to the following detailed description when considered in connection with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a side elevation view in section showing a prior art adjustable heel assembly in which an inner heel member is shown in a first position;

FIG. 2 is a side elevation view in section showing a prior art adjustable heel assembly in which an inner heel member is shown in a second position;

FIG. 3 is a side elevation view in section showing a prior art adjustable heel assembly in which an inner heel member is shown in the second position with a toe area in contact with the ground;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a heel assembly in accordance with a first embodiment of the present invention with a inner heel member having a beveled bottom surface attached to a sole having a flexible zone and a rigid zone;

FIG. 5 is a side elevation view of the heel assembly in accordance with the first embodiment with the inner heel member in a first position with a first contact surface in contact with the ground;

FIG. 6 is a side elevation view of the heel assembly in accordance with the first embodiment with the inner heel member in second position with a second contact surface in contact with the ground;

FIG. 7 is a side elevation view of a heel assembly in accordance with a second embodiment with an inner heel member including a beveled attachment;

FIG. 8 is a side elevation view of the beveled attachment in accordance with a second embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a top view of the beveled attachment in accordance with a second embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 10 is a bottom view of the beveled attachment in accordance with a second embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring now to the drawings wherein like reference characters designate identical or corresponding parts throughout the several views and more particularly to FIGS. 1 to 3, a shoe 20 incorporating an adjustable heel assembly 22 according to the prior art is illustrated. The shoe comprises an upper 24 and a sole 26 made from typical materials therefor, e.g., a stiff but somewhat flexible material, whereby the upper 24 is arranged in connection with and above the sole 26.

The stiffness and flexibility of the sole 26 may vary along different points of its length. For example, as shown in FIG. 4, the sole 26 comprises a flexible zone 28 and a rigid zone 30. The flexible zone 28 of the sole is located in a toe area 32 of the shoe and allows the toe area to bend and flex when the shoe is worn. The rigid zone 30 of the sole is located in a middle area 34 and a heel area 36 of the shoe and provides arch support when the shoe is worn. It is understood that the rigid zone may comprise a metal shank placed between a flexible upper layer and a flexible lower layer of the sole to prevent the sole from bending. It is also understood that other materials may be used instead of a metal shank as long as sufficient rigidity is provided. Similarly, it is understood that other materials may be used instead of leather for the sole, such as flexible rubber, plastic or paper, as long as sufficient flexibility for the sole member is provided.

The adjustable heel assembly 22 in accordance with the prior art comprises a downwardly oriented outer heel casing 38 defined by an interior compartment 40 with an open lower end. An upper end of the outer heel casing is mounted to the downwardly facing surface of the sole 26. It is understood that this connection may be in the form of nails, screws and/or adhesive.

The adjustable heel assembly 22 also includes a movable inner heel block 46 positionable at least partially within the interior compartment 40 of the outer heel casing 38 as shown in FIGS. 1 to 3. Inner heel block 46 is defined by a body having outer surfaces providing a suitable shape for the heel. A portion of the inner heel block 46 extends through the open lower end of the outer heel casing 38.

A rubber heel layer (not shown) may be arranged on the lower surface of inner heel block 46 and constitutes the lowermost surface of the heel adjustable assembly 22 which contacts the ground regardless of the position of the inner heel block 46 relative to the outer heel casing 38.

The inner heel block 46 is movable within the interior compartment of outer heel casing 38 between a first raised position shown in FIG. 1 which provides the heel assembly with a first decreased height, and a second lowered position shown in FIG. 2 which provides the heel assembly with a second increased height.

A locking mechanism (not shown) may be provided for selectively releasably locking the inner heel block 46 to the outer heel casing 38 in the first and second positions in order to adjust the height of the heel assembly.

As shown in FIG. 2, when the inner heel block 46 is slidably moved into the second position to give added height to the adjustable heel assembly 22, the rigid zone 30 is inflexible and does not bend. Therefore, the rigid zone does not permit the sole to change its attachment angle with respect to the outer heel casing. As a result, the toe area 32 of the sole is raised from the ground. Referring to FIG. 3, if the shoe 20 is worn with the inner heel block 46 in the second lowered position and the toe area 32 contacting the ground, the inner heel block 46 and the outer heel casing 38 are both tilted forward so that the inner heel block contacts the ground with only a narrow surface of a front edge of the inner heel block. The surface of the front edge has a minuscule surface area in contact with the ground resulting in low traction for the wearer which could result in slipping, falling or twisting of an ankle. The wearer's weight is also not evenly distributed resulting in the wearer being unbalanced.

Referring now to FIGS. 4-6, a first embodiment of an improved adjustable heel assembly for a shoe 48 in accordance with the invention, generally designated 50, comprises a first outer heel casing 52 having an interior compartment 54 (FIG. 6) within which a second inner heel block 56 having a solid body is at least partially situated so as to be slidingly movable between a first position 58 shown in FIG. 5, and a second position 60 shown in FIG. 6 in order to provide the heel assembly 50 with a first reduced height and a second increased height, respectively.

The inner heel block 56 is provided with a beveled bottom surface 62 having a first contact surface 64 and a second contact surface 66. The first contact surface 64 and the second contact surface 66 form a non-coplanar dihedral angle which permits sufficient traction with the ground when the inner heel block is in both the first position or the second position. As shown in FIG. 5, the first contact surface 64 contacts the ground when the inner heel block 56 is in the first raised position, which provides the heel assembly with the first decreased height. The second contact surface 66 contacts the ground when the inner heel block 56 is in the second lowered position shown in FIG. 6, which provides the heel assembly 50 with the second increased height.

The beveled bottom surface 62 permits more contact area with the ground and thus uniformly distributes gravitational forces on the inner heel block and the outer heel casing, and eliminates the tendency of the inner of the heel block and the outer heel casing to tilt during normal walking. Furthermore, the beveled bottom surface provides sufficient traction with the ground at both height positions and prevents a wearer from slipping or falling, therefore being self stabilizing at both heights.

Referring now to FIGS. 7-10, in a second embodiment a inner heel block 68 may be shorter than the inner heel block 56 of the first embodiment and include a beveled attachment 70. As shown in FIGS. 7 and 8, the beveled attachment 70 includes a plurality of prongs 72, preferably four, which are inserted into a plurality of openings in a bottom of the inner heel block. The beveled attachment 70 may be attached to the inner heel block using an adhesive and/or interference press fit of the prongs into the openings. It is understood that the beveled attachment may include any number of prongs. It is also understood that other methods of engaging the beveled attachment with the inner heel block may be used as long as sufficient attachment means are provided which holds the two members together.

As shown in FIG. 7, the beveled attachment includes a first contact surface 74 and a second contact surface 76 forming a non-coplanar dihedral angle which permits sufficient traction with the ground when the inner heel block is in both the first raised position or the second raised position. The first contact surface 74 contacts the ground when the inner heel block is in a lowered position and the second contact surface 76 contacts the ground when the inner heel block is in a raised position. As shown in FIG. 10, a bottom of the beveled attachment may include a textured pattern 78 to prevent the wearer from slipping when walking when the beveled attachment is in contact with the ground.

While the heel assemblies of the present invention may be formed of conventional material, such as wood or a strong nylon, such as Delrin, it is understood that those regions which are subjected to substantial forces during use may be formed by, or reinforced with, metallic material.

It is understood that numerous modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in the light of the above teachings. It is therefore to be understood that within the scope of the claims appended hereto, the invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically disclosed herein.