An equipment manufacturer acting as a true pioneer of good practice? (2 of 2)
To read part #1, click here.
Last week, I told you about my meeting with Décathlon in Lille, France, a sports equipment company operating in 28 countries. A day filled with discussions and teachings in the presence of the whole team responsible for the Kalenji brand and their entire range of running shoes. We talked about best practice, namely the design of running shoes. Advice that sometimes proved overwhelming but that left room for rich discussions that might as well, just maybe, help change the practices of this sports industry giant.
(Note: I did not receive any compensation whatsoever for this discussion and I paid for my own expenses).
My recommendations were mostly focused on the best practices to adopt in the design of running shoes. A function-oriented design aiming to reduce the risk of injury.
Our advice is relevant to any brand and specialty retailer, take note!
1. Educate your teams
Consultants, salespersons and coaches alike, make sure to raise their awareness for best practice and information sources that are free of commercial bias. They will know what they're talking about and customer service will gain a real “added value.” A credible and sustainable way to stand out.
- Over a thousand health professionals trained by The Running Clinic live in France and several thousand others are located all over the world. That's a lot of passionate people who can train your teams! Contact them right away.
- The Running Clinic delivers training courses anywhere around the globe. All the retailers and equipment manufacturers are invited at the free part of the training course New trends in the prevention of running injuries on “Shoes.” Contact us, we'll book a seat for a training course near you!
- In a few weeks, a 10-hour online course on sports shoes will be available as an E-learning tool. You will find a comprehensive literature review and a thorough analysis of everything there is to know about running shoes, their effect on biomechanics, their role in injury prevention and performance, prescriptions and many other tools!
2. Changing discourse
Major brands continue to convey concepts that are later on invalidated by science in order to sell. There are so many examples: cushioning to protect the body from shocks, movement control technologies to reduce pronation as the cause of our problems, high prices that allegedly translate into quality, etc. Make a difference!
- Stop talking about and promoting all that nonsense in ads and adopt an evidence-based practice!
- Continue, as you’ve already been doing (Kalenji/Décathlon is one of the only companies out there to do this) to subsidize scientific studies led by independent and unbiased research groups.
- Use the minimalist index to quantify and categorize your running shoes. A simple and validated measuring tool created by a consensus of 42 international experts.
3. Design of running shoes
The vast majority of shoes available on the market have a minimalist index ranging from 10% to 30% (to be clear here, we’re talking about your typical running shoes sold in traditional stores): Asics Nimbus, Brooks Adrénaline, Mizuno Wave Rider, Kalenji Kiprun LD, etc.
- Offer a wider variety of shoes. I am not referring here to features such as shoes designed for trail versus road running, and even less to features such as pronator versus supinator, but rather to products offering different minimalist indices. There is currently a void when it comes to the 50%-80% MI range, a type of shoes that should be prescribed systematically to beginners!
- Continue producing low-MI shoes for advanced runners, without the pointless marketing tactics that come with them!
If there is one issue that is crystal clear for all scientists is that children should wear minimalist shoes right from the beginning. For them, there is no need for a transition period, even if they have not worn minimalist shoes at an early age. Parents have been misinformed and deceived in that regard by unscrupulous marketing strategies. Sell them minimalist shoes right away... they too can be durable and attractive!
- Launch an awareness campaign on this subject aimed at parents. You will stand out from other companies, not to mention that you’ll grab a huge market share that has not been leveraged thus far. Thousands of health care professionals are waiting just for this to send parents your way!
- Only produce MI>80% shoes for children under 10 and MI>60% shoes for children between 10 and 14.
I was delighted with my encounter with Kalenji/Décathlon as well as by their openness and desire to do well. However, one question remains: despite good intentions and rich discussions, will actions follow suit? Will they progressively change their practices? Will they educate runners in terms of best practice? Will they produce only minimalist shoes for children?
Time will tell!
The Running Clinic is open to discussion and teaching science-based best practices to any equipment manufacturer and shoe retailer out there. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.