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Recent information on athletic shoes?

Discussion in 'Biomechanics, Sports and Foot orthoses' started by Katie Hjorth, Jan 23, 2006.

  1. Katie Hjorth

    Katie Hjorth Welcome New Poster

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    I am a podiatrist with a very high knowledge of athletic shoes however finding difficulties with shoe reps only promoting their products. Are there any resources that compare and contrast brand against brand or wear test products etc :confused:
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 23, 2006
  2. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    Hi Katie .... long time no hear?

    I know exactly what you are saying and have thought long and hard about this gap in the available information and what could be done about it.

    At one stage I thought those regular running shoe updates that Runners World publish would be helpful, but even they do not provide the kind of real information that we need.

    I did notice the Steve, the running man did joint here last week so maybe he can offer some pointers. This is his site http://www.intraining.com.au/
  3. Cameron

    Cameron Well-Known Member


    I have been an observer of athletic shoe design for many years and suggest there is little difference between the brand leaders. Fashion and fad , yes but evergreens, no. Most serious athletes cut through the razzamatazz and are well informed on shoe types. Many remain brand loyal, a factor intellegent companies use to their advantage.

    Manufacturers of high performance shoes assume 75% of shoes sold will never see a sports field or basketball court.

    Hey, what do I know?
  4. toomoon

    toomoon Well-Known Member

    Hey Katie,
    it's Simon here. I work as a research consultant to ASICS globally, but my real job is still a podiatrist. It is actually pretty tough to get comparitive info, because whilst every company researches their product and ideas against the competition, most of this never gets to see the light of day. I hope a part of my job is to try to change this, and publish new ideas and theories about direction and innovation, and present these at scientific meetings. Unfortunately, because litigation is always at the back of every manufacturers mind, direct comparison of brand to brand, shoe to shoe will probably not happen.
    What you can do is check out some of the web sites, coz a couple are really good (I reckon the USA version of ours is good, and the brooks one is also well worth a look). These sites post information on biomechanics, what is happening now, and what is coming... and I can tell you that what is coming in the next few years is going to be very challenging to a lot of people in the professional and retail sectors. Be prepared to keep an open mind. lower limb stiffness, proprioception, gender issues and materials tehnology will all be very important. When I get time I will post something on what to expect. the other resource is of course the Runner's World shoe survey, but if you are a shoe geek like me, it might be a little light on for you from a technical and biomechanical perspective.
    Maybe join the International Society of Biomechnics Technical Group on Functional Footwear... http://www.isbweb.org/ ... some seriously smart people with some hard science to bust the myths.
    One final word would be that if you understand the mechanics of athletic footwear well, your perception of what will work and what will not will usually be very accurate... in other words... if it seems like a gimmick or a sales pitch... it almost always is!
    good luck
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 15, 2006
  5. Bartold!!!! Hey mate....long time since I saw a napkin wrapped around your head!
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 15, 2006
  6. toomoon

    toomoon Well-Known Member

    Yes!!! 'tis me sans napkin. I am still liotering around the murky world of international footwear research trying to keep my nose clean. Will be in your neck of the woods a bit this year, so will definitely make the trip to Sacremento. Hope all is well
  7. We'll need to get out the napkins again when you visit Sacramento. Be sure to bring your air guitar and we will do the karaoke thing again. Looking forward to it!
  8. pgcarter

    pgcarter Well-Known Member

    Hi Katie,
    Hope you are enjoying work. My background in the snow skiing and hiking footwear markets put me in basically the same position....no objective stuff published comparing brands, the local special interest magazines were always very reluctant to publish any value judgements, everything had to be great or even better than that. I wrote a couple of review articles but the guts got chopped out before printing. Mostly you won't get a rep to admit to anything less than "fantastic" about what they get paid to sell. The reality is that if you have spent years putting the shoes on lots of different feet and getting customer feedback at the sharp end you are probably better informed about what works in Australia then them....there is no value in them admitting to returns or complaints, from their perspective, if it sold to a shop and they got paid it's pretty much a success. They often won't even admit to a shop that other shops could not sell a particular product either....they work very hard to make retailers feel that they are the only ones having a problem with returns or with a failure to sell a particular line. You should offer to write something for a magazine....
    Regards Phill Carter
  9. Kenva

    Kenva Active Member

  10. Steve The Footman

    Steve The Footman Active Member

    Comparing shoes not appropriate.

    Back in the 1970's and early 1980's Runners World did extensive scientific tests comparing running shoes. While it is questionable if any of those tests were valid they were discontinued because poor reviews affected their advertising income (No Nike adverts for years). The current reviews by Runners World and Run For Your Life and Choice Magazine are less involved and the issues of validity still exist.

    The risk is that runners can end up buying the wrong shoe - that is inappropriate to their individual needs - because of a good review. The single most important factor in footwear selection is the variability between runners needs. Some things which are crucial to selection are subtle differences that can not be tested by any machine or wear tested by one person.

    A good example of this is slapping gait. The footwear influences on slapping are the torsional stability of the rearfoot and midfoot, the heel height differential, the softness (not cushioning) of the midsole, the toe spring and the rocker-bottomness of the shoe. The runners biomechanical influences include the contact location, the control/strength of the leg extensors, the amount of overstriding and fatigue. There are other influences like the running surface and grade that also may influence slapping.

    In this situation it is probably spurious to make much of a comparison between shoes. The only real test is to run in a lot of shoes before buying and pick the ones which reduce the slapping. When this is done you will be able to identify an interesting lack of a pattern. Some people will slap in one model of shoes in which someone else has no slapping and visa versa.

    When it comes to the technological gimics that most shoe companies promote you must understand that they exist to sell more shoes and not necessarily for improved performance or injury reduction. Each company will always have the best "cushioning compound" and "stability system". While there are many studies conducted to prove their system is best the issue of validity still exists.

    Shock Attenuation, or cushioning as it is known by the punters, is not related to the material used in the midsole. Force = Mass x Acceleration. The amount of shock (F) any individual recieves from a shoe is related to their weight (m) and how hard they hit the ground (a) and the firmness in the midsole to resist compaction at an even rate. Many of the studies by biomechanists have shown an inverse relationship between softness and cushioning. The softer the midsole the less shock attenuation. One theory behind this finding is that softness reduces feedback from the ground and so reduces the main shock absorber - the coordinated eccentric contraction of the quadriceps and triceps surae.

    In a nod to Simon, let me say that I am not convinced that the Gel system in Asics shoes adds much to the shock attenuation beyond what the EVA midsole offers. There is no doubt that Asics have excellently cushioned shoes but it would be an interesting study to test whether runners could tell the difference between running in shoes with the gel and without. Of perhaps more importance is the attempts by Asics to try to design shoes with guidance rather than control and I see this as the future of footwear technology.

    The best source of research on footwear is undoubtably the international society of biomechanics website. Just go to the Footwear group abstracts from the previous conferences and you can get lots of fantastic information. I also produce a footwear catalog recently updated on our website http:www.intraining.com.au/ that attempts to categorise shoes into a few more categories then normal.

    Sorry for the long-winded reply. My final comment would be that trying to compare shoes is not helpful in a generalised sense, but rather each person must do the comparisons while running in the shoes prior to purchasing.
  11. pgcarter

    pgcarter Well-Known Member

    I would mostly agree except that if someone with an enquiring mind works in footwear sales, measures feet well, keeps records and asks customers a lot of questions they can learn a great deal about what works and does not work for different kinds of feet....I was one of these in the skiing and hiking boot market for 15-20 years...if you can find the equivalent in running shoes it will generally save the consumer much time and effort. My shop used to offer a money back guarranty even after outdoor use...all you need is this in running shoes.....is it out there?
    Regards Phill
  12. Steve The Footman

    Steve The Footman Active Member

    My point exactly pgcarter. It is about the sales person and the specialist store having the knowledge to find the best shoe to suit each person. I also had 20 years experience selling running shoes before turning to podiatry. At our store we strive to make the sales process and specialist sales training reduce the error when purchasing. But I doubt there is any way that a list of shoes could be as effective as an experienced and trained salesperson who is also a runner.

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