North Carolina Patent of the Month – April 2022

Athletes put their bodies through a lot, with the stress of practice and play often leading to injury. Running, kicking, and jumping can create big impact forces. Football players commonly experience turf toe – a sprain to the main joint of the big toe – and basketball players often experience similar toe fractures from the constant jumping. While athletic shoes are designed to try and mitigate these impacts, they can only do so much when impact is repetitive. Gryppers, Inc. has designed additional footwear that can improve grip and protect the wearer’s foot by further reducing impact.

Their design covers the foot and ankle and includes a toe strap integrated within the fabric. The toe strap is less elastic than the rest of the fabric to increase grip and create a secured compression area. The toe strap extends from the heel up and over the toe. The compression prevents the wearer’s toes from extending beyond its normal range of motion. Similarly, an ankle strap starts at one side of the heel and reaches up and over the ankle to the other side. This supports the ankle and prevents ankle twists. The material itself is impact absorbent but thin enough to be worn as a sock so that a shoe can still comfortably fit over. The grip prevents the foot from sliding around in the shoe, minimizing the concentration of weight on the toes.

Gryppers, Inc. started out by developing grip enhancements for athletes. Their finger sleeve designs improved grip strength for sports or even weight lifting. They intend to keep innovating and disrupting the sports technology industry to better protect the athletes as they train and perform.

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