View Full Version : Re: Performance Enhancing Shoes?

06-04-2007, 06:41 AM
This may be related to the previous thread regarding running prostheses, but does anyone know if
there is a clear definition of the term 'spring' within the IAAF or USATF? Although we
conventionally associate the term with a coiled piece of metal, it seems as though any elastic
material which stores and returns energy, such as rubber, could be labeled a spring.

Is the issue with Spira shoes the actual presence of a component which physically resembles a
spring or is it the fact that a 'significant' amount of energy is returned during push-off? If the
former, would a shoe with highly elastic midsole or forefoot be considered legal? If the latter,
then I think Krafsur makes a good point below regarding past technological advances in track
surface materials and shoe design.

Is there a line drawn for maximum shoe efficiency?


James Finley
Ph.D. Student
Department of Biomedical Engineering
Northwestern University

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On Sun, 03 Jun 2007 8:43:36 am CDT "Jamie S. Carruthers" wrote:

Spira is a little shoe company that has started quite a stir in the
running world. Note the following:

That principal was also challenged yesterday, it emerged, in El Paso,
Texas, where a footwear company is suing the International
Association of Athletics Federations and USA Track and Field. Spira
Footwear claim that technological innovations have caused their
running shoes to be banned. They allege that sport rules banning
assisted devices violate US laws on restraint of trade and
monopolistic practices. They say athletics' rules prevent their
patented WaveSpring technology from gaining acceptance. The company
say seven runners will be wearing its shoes at the Boston Marathon
next Monday.

The IAAF is already embroiled in controversy over the use of a carbon fibre
prosthetic used by South African Paralympic gold medallist Oscar Pistorius,
the so-called "fastest man on no legs". They expect to rule out the double
amputee's spring legs which single-amputee rivals believe give him an unfair


See below:
_http://www.spirafootwear.com/_ (http://www.spirafootwear.com/)
Spira's™ patented WaveSpring™ technology may be the most significant
advancement ever achieved in the footwear industry.*

WaveSpring™ returns energy with every step.
Ray Fredericksen, president of Sports Biomechanics, Inc. compares
typical midsole materials found in many athletic shoes to running in
sand. While initially perceived as soft and comfortable, these shoes
require the wearer to exert greater effort. Muscles must work harder,
causing fatigue and increasing the risk of injury.

Unlike traditional shoe midsoles made primarily of foams, rubber
compounds, or polymers, WaveSpring™ technology stores and disburses
energy with every step. Testing performed by an independent source
reports that 87% - 96% of the energy is returned from the
WaveSpring™. This is the highest energy return score for any midsole
material ever tested.**

WaveSpring™ is light and compact.
The WaveSpring™ is laterally stable, lightweight, compact, and can
easily fit into a typical shoe midsole. The technology is in the heel
and forefoot of the shoe. As such, it has the appearance of a normal
shoe. Looking from the outside no one will know you have a spring in
your step but you!

WaveSpring™ technology will not break down.
Traditional midsole materials work through compression and often
breakdown quickly. The WaveSpring™ is mechanical. The spring will
outlast the shoe. The wearer will have a "new shoe" feel from the
first day it is worn to the last!

"Unlike rubbers and polymers, the springs have an almost infinite
fatigue life. The shoe will fall apart before the spring performance
Popular Mechanics magazine
Shoe Technology Review, July 2003

"I feel it is the first technological advance that has been truly
meaningful in the shoe industry in many years."
Donald A. Chu Ph.D., PT, ATC CSCS
Director, Athletic Training & Rehabilitation
Stanford University

*Patented and patents pending.
**Sports Biomechanics, Inc., Michigan State University, May 2001


But so would Spira, Krafsur's shoe company.
"Track and field has always embraced innovation," Krafsur said
recently . "We're jumping with fiberglass poles, not bamboo. We run
on very springy tracks, not cinders. We run in very sophisticated
racing spikes as opposed to leather straps like 'Chariots of Fire.' "
Why can't we compete, Krafsur wonders, with springs in our shoes?

Banned in races

As North Jersey runners descend upon Long Branch for the New Jersey
Marathon this morning, Krafsur is busy waging war with the
International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) and USA
Track and Field (USATF). Both organizations prohibit runners from
competing in shoes with springs.

Any runner who wins a race governed by either organization's
guidelines while wearing Spira running shoes is subject to

"I have read about the shoe, but till now it has not come up with
regard to our New Jersey Marathon," race director Art Castellano
wrote in an e-mail. "Since we are not a [money] marathon, it may not
be a factor, but if the USATF is opposed to it and we are under the
auspices of that organization, we are also opposed to this shoe at
this time."

Other race directors echo that opinion. So Krafsur, a 45-year-old
lawyer with a size-9 foot, decided it was time to fire back. Earlier
this month, he filed an antitrust lawsuit in U.S. District Court,
suing the IAAF and USATF for $10 million. He believes their policies
governing shoes with spring technologies have fostered a "restraint
of competition." According to the lawsuit, "the concern by athletes
is so great that most elite runners are unwilling to race in Spira

Yet Spira success stories are beginning to pop up at marathons across
the country. Keith Pierce, a distance runner from Texas, won the
Cowtown Marathon in February while wearing the shoes. Oleg Strijakov,
a 43-year-old Russian who lives in Florida, captured the Boston
Marathon's Masters division crown (for runners age 40 and over) in a
pair of Spiras....

Foot Solutions, a foot-care company that has locations in Ramsey and
Caldwell, is one of the few places where you can find Spira shoes in
New Jersey. Louise Van Osten, owner of the Ramsey franchise, said the
shoe reduces impact between your foot and the ground by 85 percent.
"Basically what it does is it helps your joints, no matter what age
they are," Van Osten said. "Arthritis, lower back pain ... having
that reduction of impact between you and the ground really helps you
become and stay more active."

The simplest of questions is the one Krafsur cannot answer: Do his
shoes make you faster?

"I don't know if they make you faster or not," Krafsur said. "What I
can tell you, and I'm very confident in saying this, when you finish
the race, there's going to be less stress on your body. The comment
that I've received from several people is, 'For the first time in 50
marathons, I'm able to walk the next day.' "


Inform the buying public that using your product would be cheating.
That it's banned. Not allowed.

_http://sports.espn.go.com/oly/news/story?id=2039579_ (http://sports.espn.go.com/oly/news/story?id=2039579)
What would seem like a hindrance could actually lead to a break for a
budding brand.
In the most famous case, Nike's first pair of Air Jordans was banned
by the NBA because of discrepancies with the league's uniform rules.
The shoe's namesake, Michael Jordan, wore the red shoes anyway. Nike
paid the fines. And sales took off....

But that's exactly what the former attorney and aerospace engineer
have done. Their shoes have a patented spring technology that claims
to reduce the impact on a runner's feet, which leads to easier
recovery and less overall exertion. It's all good for the runner,
unless he or she is participating in an event sanctioned by USA Track
& Field or the International Association of Athletics Federations.
Because the shoes provide an energy return and use springs, they are
specifically banned by those organizations. So any runner in Monday's
Boston Marathon crossing the finish line in Spira shoes risks being

Given the sheer number of people in the race, thousands who qualified
and hundreds more, called bandits, running without a number, it's
highly doubtful that anyone other than elite runners would be caught.
"We can't track everything," said Steve Vaitones, referee for the
Boston Marathon. "Whether it's a pair of shoes or if it's someone
giving a runner a bottle with some banned substance in it."

As long as cheating isn't being done by the elite runners, officials
at the Boston Marathon aren't expected to do much about it. All of
the elite runners have shoe contracts and the Krafsurs have yet to
dare offer an elite runner a sponsorship deal lucrative enough to be
worth a disqualification.

The ban has created some buzz for Spira. The shoes recently appeared
on the morning shows on ABC, NBC and Fox.

But Andy Krafsur, chief executive of the company, doesn't necessarily
want to embrace the outlaw role forever. He's already had
conversations with USATF officials, who so far have refused to make
any changes to its rules.

"The rule is outdated," Krafsur said. "If you go back and [look
through] history, all new technology was banned -- from the oversized
tennis racket to the aluminum bat to the metal driver."
Krafsur said his shoes don't make a runner faster since the shoe
doesn't provide more energy than a runner puts into each step. The
design of the shoes, he said, simply allows the runner to recover
more quickly.

Vaitones doesn't buy that. He said Spira shoes are performance

"If you recover faster that means you can run more easily, which
means that over time you can run faster and farther," Vaitones
said. "Steroids don't allow you to see the baseball better, but if
you hit it, it might go 20 to 30 feet more, which could be the
difference between a home run and an out."

Any comments?
Jamie Carruthers
Wakefield, UK

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