It’s Gotta Be The Shoes!

Walk into any running shoe store, especially a specialty running shoe store and mention that you are looking to either start running or replace your current running shoes and the sales clerk will immediately put on their white lab coat to start selling you on the scam which is… that running shoe design (i.e. stability, neutral or cushioning) is critical to preventing running injuries.

The sales clerk, who is without any training in foot anatomy, foot biomechanics, foot anything, will likely ask to see your current pair of running shoes in order to “analyze” your wear pattern so that they can ‘prescribe’ you the appropriate running shoe.

Its an unbelievable scam because there is no proof for any of it.

First, there is no conclusive, consistent, reliable and valid research that shows that running shoe design will prevent any injury.

Second, when did running stores obtain the ability to ordain sales clerks as pedorthists, podiatrist, orthopedist or physiotherapist? Seriously? If any regulated health professional made as many false claims as running sales clerks do regarding running shoes, there would be countless complaints to the regulatory bodies of those professionals. Sales clerk get away with it because they aren’t anything… other than a sales clerk: they are not specialists in the foot, nor in prescribing footwear despite the fact that this is exactly how they present themselves.

This is what happens when an industry sells a belief, ordains hundreds and hundreds of false prophets (i.e. running store sales clerks) who call all runners to seek redemption by buying the proper shoe… only then will they achieve running nirvana with all their foot aches and pains receding, and bringing an end to their running injuries. Convert to injury free running with the purchase of “proper” running shoes is the claim… the outcome… runners have just as many running injuries today as they did prior to the “innovation” of all the gimmicks in running shoes.

Meanwhile, the fastest runners in the world – runners from nations in Eastern Africa – grow up running on dirt roads without any shoes whatsoever (usually because they cannot afford them, yet become world class runners despite running for years without ‘proper’ running shoes).

I remember working in a specialty running retailer.

I remember the head office supplying the store with a treadmill and video camera so that customers could be recorded walking or running on the treadmill in order that the “diagnosis” of over-pronation be captured in order that stability shoes could be sold, or those runners who land heavily on their heels could be shown the need for a shoe with the utmost of cushioning.

I remember how customers could be ‘sold’ more and more expensive shoes because of this sales process.

I remember the store manager excitedly using this tactic to sell over and over again the most expensive shoe in the running store.

I recall customers gobbling up the apparent care, expertise, and knowledge of all of us sales clerks in the running store as if we were actually ‘experts’ in all things feet.

What a scam!

It was only afterwards, while attending UofT studying to become a physiotherapist that I realized the inappropriateness of this process, and moreover that there is in fact no connection between running shoe type and running injury.

But do you think anyone in the running shoe industry wants the truth to get out?

Now consider that its not only in regards to running shoes, but false claims of assessment, false diagnosis of an underlying issue and ‘prescription’ by a sales force of a service or product is rampant across the entire health, fitness and sports industry. The entire cohort of personal trainers have less combined education than a lifeguard, yet these so called ‘professionals’ are widely accepted as ordained ministers able to preach all things health, fitness, even nutrition, promising that all your goals… from weight loss to performance in sport are achievable through another scam: hi intensity interval training [HiiT].

I challenge you to start challenging everything you hear in the health, fitness and sport industry because you will find that almost all of it is simply trending fads with nearly no substance to any claim made.

Now consider this…

Recently in reading a newsletter from the College of Physiotherapists, I read that a particular insurer will stop accepting invoices from physiotherapists for orthotics: meaning that this insure does not believe that physiotherapists are able to appropriately diagnose and prescribe orthotic devices for their patients (despite having training in anatomy, biomechanics, pathology, and rehab processes, etc…).

But… running store sales clerks ‘prescribe’ all sorts of orthotic type solutions to customers – from shoes to insoles – without any repercussion.

That makes no sense at all!

So whats the point in becoming a foot specialist – a true foot specialist who has taken university level courses to become a regulated health professional who specializes in the foot – if all you need to do is start to work at a shoe retailer and you can… well, you can do just about anything without anyone regulating you?