Much research has been conducted to determine the difference between running barefoot verse the traditional heel strike running style. Each style of running requires parts of the foot to strike the ground differently. Shoe companies have addressed these differences by designing different styles of shoes for each running style. This study looked to evaluate the design criteria of running shoes, to see if the current criteria are appropriate so that the shoe emulates the biomechanics of running. To do this a content analysis of running shoe reviews was done on a neutral, stability, minimalist, and racing flat shoe. This information was then compared to the biomechanics of barefoot running to see what design criteria were needed to emulate barefoot running.
The design framework for this study was reverse engineering. This concept relies on understanding the product, and the needs or problems which each component in the product meets. The idea is to find the components which are most successful in order to use those components to design another product which has similar needs.
Data were collected that allowed the researcher to define the problem that needed to be solved. This was done in the form of analyzing blog reviews of male runners. Blogs were read
and coded to evaluate what male runners thought about the characteristics of neutral, stability, minimalist, and racing flat shoes that are currently on the market. It was assumed that runners would be more likely to express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with a particular shoe in blog as opposed to a survey.
Physical requirements were defined using the information collected from the blogs along with consideration of the biomechanics of barefoot running information that was found during the review of literature. Once physical requirements were defined, market research was done to see if there was currently a shoe being sold that had all of the requirements defined by the study. Finally the final shoe criteria was evaluated to be sure that it solved the problems determined from the blog data.
The success of this study provides a method by which shoe manufactures can use publicly available information to develop design criteria, based on current user needs.