What is an EMS Foot Guru?

What is an EMS Foot Guru?

You may have seen the signs in stores or even gotten an email about signing up for a Foot Guru fitting. Many of you may be asking what exactly is a Foot Guru and why should I care?  Well, you definitely should care especially if you are coming to Eastern Mountain Sports to purchase anything for your feet. The job of a Foot Guru is to help get you in the right shoe, the right sock, and the right footbed. As with many specialties you can’t just say you are a Foot Guru, you have to go through a multi day training to earn the right to be called a Foot Guru.

New Smartwool PhD

Recently EMS put on two training camps, one in New Jersey for our Mid Atlantic stores and another in Massachusetts for New England and Northern New York. We had the honor of testing out the brand new Smartwool PhD socks with a 4 Degree Elite Fit System and Reliawool Technology. These new, more durable socks will be hitting EMS stores soon, 2 months ahead of any other retailer. To best compare the Smartwools, many attendees put on only one so that they could walk about and compare it to the other sock that they were wearing. We didn’t just wear the socks we also discussed how socks fit and the different types of materials that socks are made out of.

To really understand about fitting shoes, socks, and footbeds you have to understand the biomechanics of the foot. The folks at Superfeet stepped up with a great Powerpoint about the foot. They discussed the bones, ligaments, and joints that make up a foot. A key point was how important the Midtarsal Joint is for us and how it keeps the arch of your foot in place. They continued on to talk about the function of the foot and the role a shoe plays with your foot. The group finished their presentation with some insightful information about how Superfeet work and how to fit them for a customer.

Barefoot training

Moving on to the shoe, Scarpa gave a presentation about how their shoes are made. We got to see the different steps it takes to put a shoe and all 80+ parts together. Bill from Vibram put on a rousing show about the outsole and how it can change your life. When it came time to talk about Vibram FiveFingers everyone had to get up and go running in just their socks to feel the difference in barefoot running. The barefoot running training did not end there. Merrell brought in running coach Walt Reynolds to help with the ABCs of barefoot running; A = Align Posture, B = Balanced Footstrike, and C = Cadence. You can see some of this training in the video below.


Ben at work

In between these presentations we broke off into small groups to work with a Guru trainer and have our questions answered. Here we got to practice using the Brannock device and evaluating each other’s feet. We worked on filling out Fit Cards that we have in stores to help customers better understand their feet. One of my favorite breakout sessions was when Ben, my group’s trainer, showed us different ways to tie laces to help relieve pressure or lock the ankle in.  Having a size and a half difference between my left and right feet I am constantly struggling with my smaller foot swimming around. Ben helped me lock that ankle in place in my hiking boots. Along with the Guru trainer each group also had a representative from one of the vendors that was present. This allowed us to ask specific questions about the vendor’s products.

Breakout group practice

The training wasn’t all work, we definitely had a chance for some fun. In the late afternoon and evening there was a Vendor Village set up for us to go around and meet reps from all the brands we carry. Here we learned more specifics about the products and in many chances got to try shoes on to walk or run around in. There was disc golf, ladder ball, and even croquet. A very popular booth was that belonging to Strassburg/Runner’s Remedy. Not only did they have a fire pit to keep us warm but they also had many foot and leg recovery products that were new to many of us. The night would truly not be complete without Woody from Merrell’s Rib Fest and Barbeque. His pulled pork tacos are absolutely amazing. After chowing down a few my thoughts drifted back to how I need to start running again after my shoulder surgery. Hmmm, I wonder what shoes I should wear….

My card (women's sizes)

When was the last time you had your foot measured? Your feet change over time so take the time and sign up to have a fitting with a Foot Guru. You can call your local store to set up an appointment or just stop on in. We’re here to help get you in the right shoe for whatever your outdoor needs are. Being properly fitted can be the difference between a great day outside and a painful memory.

Sizing up


Amy Parulis

A former Strength and Conditioning Specialist and captain of the University of North Carolina track team, Amy now looks for her next mountain to climb or mud run to take part in to keep in shape. Her favorite hike was to the crater rim of Mt. St. Helens where she witnessed a steaming lava dome and she some day hopes to summit Mt. Rainier. In the meantime she can be found helping customers at the Waterford EMS. You can follow her adventures on Twitter @amyparulis

1 Comment

  1. May 1, 2012, 8:57 pm

    The foot guru service is awesome. I had someone spend almost an hour measuring my feet (first time in many years) and tweaking the fit of my boots. Turns out I’ve been wearing boots a half size too small. The folks at EMS are te best! Looking forward to trying out the new SmartWool socks too…

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