Inside Business: Hot Springs for Sneakers

HOW A TINY FOOTWEAR COMPANY, FOUNDED BY A PAIR OF BROTHERS, STUCK COILS IN ITS SHOES AND GREW INTO A THRIVING START-UP

Want a piece of the cutthroat running-shoe market, dominated by big brands like Nike, Adidas and Reebok? Try giving your sneakers some steroids. Spira Footwear, a four-year-old company based in El Paso, Texas, makes the world's only shoes with actual springs in the soles. The springs act as shock absorbers, reducing the stress on your feet. Spiras feel so good, they're illegal--at least to some. USA Track & Field, which sanctions some 4,000 road races each year, has banned Spiras for violating Rule 143 (3)(a), which states that "no spring ... may be incorporated in the shoes."

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