Consumer awareness and perceptions of running shoes and training with assessment of a point of purchase educational intervention



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Injury rates for runners, particularly new runners, are historically and consistently excessive, with primary contributing factors cited as shoes and training errors. Consumers have a wide range of options in features and shoe cost, with unproven injury reduction associated with higher cost and feature-laden shoes. Special needs runners, such as those of greater mass/extreme pronator/cavus feet, may not utilize beneficial advances in shoe materials and design, while others may erroneously use these features inappropriately, thus incurring injury inadvertently. Properly fitting shoes can play an important role in reducing specific forms of running injury. Some injuries are related to incorrect shoe fit, regardless of the shoe design and features. Incorrect shoe fit may contribute to pain and injury, and subsequently poor exercise adherence(McWhorter, Wallman, Landers, Altenburger, LaPorta-Krum, &Altenburger, 2003). This interdisciplinary study will investigate consumers’ current level of awareness regarding running shoe fit, criteria consumers use to select running shoes, and evaluate the efficacy of a Point of Purchase (POP) Educational intervention for running shoe consumers. Training errors have been attributed as a leading factor in the development of musculoskeletal injuries in distance runners, accounting for nearly 60% of injuries (Hauret, Jones, Bullock, Canham-Chervak, & Canada, 2010; James, Bates, &Osternig, 1978). Widespread health educators and organizations have recommended educational practices to prevent injury to runners. Education of runners regarding injury prevention has been cursory, with runners seeking advice for treating injuries after occurrence, rather than using preventive education or practice. This study seeks to bring to light current consumer levels of awareness and perceptions regarding injury prevention, to better guide preventive interventions as how consumers use running shoes is potentially of greater consequence than the product itself. The secondary purpose of this interdisciplinary study was to evaluate consumers’ awareness of fundamental principles of run training, with subsequent evaluation of the efficacy of an educational POP intervention for running-specific principles of exercise. A total of six hundred and two surveys were collected during the study, of which three hundred and one surveys were collected for both the shoe selection and run training POP interventions, respectively.Two separate researcher-developed surveys (Appendix A) were created to assess either the shoe selection or run training interventions to compare with control groups. These surveys were developed after a thorough literature search resulted in no existing suitable instrument. Seven research null hypotheses were identified to evaluate outcomes of the POP educational brochures. The Paired Samples Wilcoxon Test was used to test the hypotheses associated with both surveys in the quasi-experimental pretest-posttest control group design with alternating assignment. Statistically significant differences were found for four out of five research hypotheses related to Shoe Selection and three out of three research hypotheses related to Run Training. In this study, experimental group participants showed significant improvement for nearly all of the hypotheses related to factors implicated in the development of running injuries. Based on this observation, the potential for POP educational intervention to reduce running injuries has been established and future investigationsare warranted. This study underscores the lack of consumer knowledge and the potential for educational intervention to improve shoe fit and knowledge of training.



Consumer education, Shoe fit, Shoe selection, Running injuries, Run training, Training errors, Point of purchase (POP), Differential physiological adaptation (DPA)