In the first two decades of the 21st century, people have begun to take their health a lot more seriously. The ills of leading a hectic (but sedentary) lifestyle have been well documented. Thus, various fitness activities like cycling, hiking, walking, swimming and working out at the gym have seen a marked rise in their attendance numbers. While trainers are considered appropriate exercise wear, there has been a new trend recently – that of ‘recovery footwear’ to follow it. It is a new footwear category devised by manufacturers to sell their shoes which give feet extra cushioning and support after a long, hard workout. It has even led to the emergence of the recovery footwear market that is distinct from that of the trainer or sports shoe market.
Recovery footwear can include shoes, sandals, or even flip-flops that are typically breathable, lightweight, well-cushioned and supportive. Their main purpose is to unburden your feet immediately, get them dry, help in providing pain relief from any impact injury, and cradle the foot arch.
An average active person can take anywhere between 8,000 to 13,000 steps in a single day. Each step can add the stress of 3 to 5 times your own body weight in terms of impact forces on the body. Unstable movement can lead to a number of muscular problems or imbalances. Recovery footwear helps to stabilise the foot and provide support and comfort. They are typically made of foam, which provides a luxurious feel, and strong arch support. The recovery footwear market can offer instant pain relief for aching joints like knees and ankles, which can afflict sportspeople all too often. These products are also waterproof and bacteria resistant more often than not, which makes them easy to use when out and about. They can even be tossed into the shower or washing machine for a quick wash which makes them perfect for those individuals who live an extremely active lifestyle.
The biggest recovery footwear market restraint is the lack of clarity or use case for the product. It can be quite challenging to convince customers to spend their hard-earned money on specialised recovery footwear, when they already have regular sandals, slippers or shoes. This footwear is not medically certified to heal your feet or make them ‘recover’ from any injury. The scientific evidence on requiring an individual to take off their running shoes after exercise and replacing it with one of these is still mixed at present. Many people would simply continue to use their existing footwear, especially the cash-strapped customers who do not see the need to purchase an additional pair of shoes or sandals simply for ‘recovery’ sake.
A second challenge in the recovery footwear market is their less than attractive designs. Recovery footwear typically focuses more on function than form and they are meant to provide the ultimate luxury and comfort for your feet. An emphasis on cushioning material like foam means that they sacrifice their attractiveness to an extent, which can be a problem for those customers with a penchant for design. However, they have improved a great deal from the Croc-like moccasins of the past to the modern fresh-out-the-lab flip flops. Now, they can even be considered worthy of gracing your feet the night after an intense game or work out!
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Some of the recovery footwear market key market players include Under Armour, Nike, Superfeet, and adidas, Birkenstock, Montrail, OOFOS, Amuri, PR Soles, Mizuno, Telic and AWP Sports.