International Amateur Athletic Association (IAAF) Rules:
2. Athletes may compete barefoot or with footwear on one or both feet. The purpose of shoes for competition is to give protection and stability to the feet and a firm grip on the ground. Such shoes, however, must not be constructed so as to give an athlete any unfair additional assistance, including by the incorporation of any technology which will give the wearer any unfair advantage. A shoe strap over the instep is permitted. All types of competition shoes must be approved by IAAF.
This rule now reworded.
The Sole and the Heel
5. The sole and/or heel may have grooves, ridges, indentations or protuberances, provided these features are constructed of the same or similar material to the basic sole itself. In the High Jump and Long Jump, the sole shall have a maximum thickness of 13mm and the heel in High Jump shall have a maximum thickness of 19mm. In all other events the sole and/or heel may be of any thickness. Note: The thickness of the sole and heel shall be measured as the distance between the inside top side and the outside under side, including the above-mentioned features and including any kind or form of loose inner sole.
Inserts and Additions to the Shoe
6. Athletes may not use any appliance, either inside or outside the shoe, which will have the effect of increasing the thickness of the sole above the permitted maximum, or which can give the wearer any advantage which he would not obtain from the type of shoe described in the previous paragraphs. NOTE: Orthotic inserts required for medical purposes are exempt from this rule.
In addition to the above regulations for event run under IAAF rules, there are a number of standards from different organisations that are applicable to athletic or running shoes:
GB/T 15107 Athletic footwear (China):
This is a standard document concerned with:
This standard specifies the product classification, technical requirements, test methods, inspection rules and marking, packaging, transportation and storage of athletic footwear.
American Society for Testing materials:
ASTM F539 - 01(2011); Standard Practice for Fitting Athletic Footwear
Significance and Use
Improperly fitted footwear can cause discomfort, but more importantly, prolonged use causes disfiguration of the bone structure, bunions, corns, callouses, and finally fatigue, often leading to serious accidents. Footwear performance may also be diminished if improperly fitted.
1.1 This practice covers a practical method for fitting athletic footwear. This practice is applicable to the following general flexible types of footwear: running baseball, basketball, football, and tennis.
1.2 There are as many variations in shoe forms and materials available to users as there are variations in the anatomy of the user's feet. Shoe forms are different due to manufacturer's materials, type of construction, and also the type of activity anticipated in its end use.
1.3 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.