New Shoes: Nike’s New Self-Lacing Sneakers

This shoe is designed to anticipate performance and the needs of athletes.  The self-lacing feature is called “adaptive lacing.”  Athletic shoe designer Tinker Hatfield says, “The potential of adaptive lacing for the athlete is huge, as it would provide tailored-to-the-moment custom fit. It is amazing to consider a shoe that senses what the body needs in real-time. That eliminates a multitude of distractions, including mental attrition, and thus truly benefits performance…. Wouldn’t it be great if a shoe, in the future, could sense when you needed to have it tighter or looser? Could it take you even tighter than you’d normally go if it senses you really need extra snugness in a quick maneuver? That’s where we’re headed. In the future, product will come alive.”1

While Nike prepares for its athletes, we have other, additional thoughts.  For many individuals with disabilities, the future is coming alive Now.  Lacing and tying shoes are major challenges for people with a variety of handicaps.  Even those with moderate-to-advanced dementia could well benefit from this kind of shoe that simply (or not so simply!) laces/ties itself.  Think of people with finger, hand, wrist, elbow, arm, or shoulder restrictions.  Think of those who, for various reasons, cannot bend far enough to reach their feet.  Think also of some with mental illnesses.

We know that Nike, Inc. is a large, prosperous retailer, a company with vast international reach.  It is the world’s largest footwear seller.  It displays fine research, product innovation, futuristic plans and futures orders, and attractive growth opportunities.  Its distinctive name and “swoosh” logo are recognized and admired worldwide.  It is strongly favored by the financial investments community.  It sports a hefty market capitalization of $107.60 billion.  It is number 106 on the Fortune 500 list of companies for year 2015.2

We know that Nike’s products are often on the rather expensive side, in part because of the famous brand name.  Some people in need of these particular shoes might also need cost relief.  So we have to wonder if this big, rich, revered company might be willing to discount various items (like the self-lacing shoes) – sometimes and with good, proven reasons, of course.  These would be discounts for certain people with special footwear needs and documented, means-tested insufficient income to purchase Nike self-lacing shoes.  Big companies do know how to meet their socially ethical obligations.

Or perhaps we could entice the health insurance industry to explore the possibility of covering all, or part of, the cost of the shoes, provided that the shoes are declared a medical necessity.  In this case, we would probably first need a physician’s prescription for the shoes.

We fully expect that possession of these necessary shoes will contribute to the needy individual’s sense of psychological wellbeing.  We also know that psychological wellbeing is a vital factor in promoting good physical health.  Better mental health can lessen the risk of diseases and promote longevity.  And this, in turn, would reduce the longer-term cost of medical care.3   Cost of care is always a priority consideration in our funding-conscious society.

The self-lacing shoe is like a dream come true.  Certain groups of people stand to benefit hugely, far beyond athletics.  What a gift of independence and self-confidence, first cousins of self-respect and personal dignity, forerunners of Hope! 5

…shoes are the most important.

Good shoes take you good places.

— Seo Min Hyun

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  1. Nike, Inc, ,
  1. Fortune reporter John Kell’s review of the self-lacing shoe:
  1. Ryff, C.D., “Psychological Well-Being Revisited,”  Journal of Psychotherapy & Psychosomatics,” vol. 83, no. 1, December 2013.
  1. A Healing Story by Lani Peterson, ©2014: “Tell Me a Story about Your Shoes,”
  1. Are you God’s wife?

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Image credit:   Nike, Inc.  —

Tags:  #Nike  #shoes  #costofcare  #health  #disabilities  #independence  #dignity

Written by:
Rea L. Ginsberg, LCSW-C, ACSW, BCD

Rea Ginsberg is a retired director of social work services, hospice coordinator, and adjunct professor of clinical social work.  She can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @rginsberg2.


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