In the last decade, the number of U.S. specialty running stores has tripled. While this growth has helped to foster the sport, if you get a shoe fit at three different running shops, you will likely walk out with three different pairs of shoes. The varying fit processes—from simply walking barefoot to video analysis on a treadmill—led Parker Karnan, the executive director of the Independent Running Retailers Association (IRRA), to ask: Why not regulate the shoe fit?
“There is very little standardization in sizing and fit in athletic footwear sales,” Karnan says. “Fashion and shelf appeal are often substituted for proper fit, with little attention paid to foot types or biomechanics. This is a disservice to both the public and the retail industry, as the wrong shoe can actually create pathology.”
Starting at its conference in December, the IRRA will join biomechanical experts Drs. Shawn Allen and Ivo Warlop (known as The Gait Guys) to educate sales associates and shop owners in a three-level certification process. They’ll teach them about anatomy, foot types and biomechanics, and how they relate to shoe sizing and fit, with the goal of creating an industry standard and helping runners avoid injury.
What it means for you: Over time, every running store employee will be more educated about the foot and biomechanics. When you’re away from home and need shoes, you’ll be able to find a local IRRA-certified store you can trust.
Begin looking for certifications in early 2012. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Look out for more from The Gait Guys in upcoming issues of Triathlete.
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