#3 Debate: Can running shoes prevent injury?
Here is our third publication of a series of six on a debate on running shoes held at Université de Lausanne in Switzerland. See our first publication of this series for the rules of the debate.
Panel members (counterarguments): Boris Gojanovic, Eric Haefelin, Davide Malatesta, Grégoire Millet, Laurent Paonessa.
Question 3 of 6: Running shoes and injury prevention: What is the basis for our recommendations?
TRC Position: Our recommendations are as follows (simplified version, complex version)... minimalism for beginners and for children... no upcoming changes in running habits if you are used to a specific type of running shoes, if you are not injured, and if you are not looking to improve performance. Our recommendations are based on the following:
- currently available scientific evidence
- theoretical coherence relative to the kinetic and kinematic effects of shoes, biological plausibility (tissue adaptation), and indirect evidence such as publications on the therapeutic effects of orthoses.
- commercially unbiased information.
- Laurent Paonessa (retailer) calls upon a member of the audience (Philippe) with respect to his experience (switched to minimalism) as a high-level athlete.
- Philippe from the audience replies: It took me about 3-4 years to switch to minimalism.
- Blaise later adds: The more kilometers you have under your belt, the longer it takes. It is a lot easier for recreational runners to switch to minimalism. It also depends on the TRC rating of the shoes (how minimalist a pair of shoes is).
- Eric Haefelin (ASICS representative): Minimalist running shoes total only 4% of our sales… because consumers don’t buy them…
- Blaise replies: Marketing dictates what consumers want; retailers are the main influence. Several of them base their recommendations on erroneous concepts that are unfounded and fabricated by companies… In the end, they’re the ones who sell the shoes and they’re the ones that can actually change practices.
- Laurent Paonessa: In North America, physiotherapy clinics are filled with people who got injured with the advent of minimalism (taken from an upcoming movie by his colleague, film maker, AND running shoe store owner, Pierre Morath).
- Blaise replies: I can’t wait to watch that movie and see who they interviewed (J this reeks of commercial bias though). Be that as it may, if such is the case: Is minimalism to blame, really? Or is it rather maximalism that has weakened our feet during all these years and lowered our tolerance level when it comes to wearing the “least” amount of shoes.
- Boris Gojanovic: … be careful not to present personal convictions as evidence-based facts… we do not currently know whether minimalism is preferable or not for injury prevention… you must formulate hypotheses first and leave personal convictions aside.
- Blaise replies: Are there any data that contradict what I’m saying (such as hypotheses/beliefs relative to these recommendations)… and which are actually based on direct or indirect evidence that is conclusive and which has been published…
- Blaise calls upon Boris Gojanovic: You’re a clinical practitioner, and you have to answer questions from your patients on a daily basis. Questions such as: “Which shoes should I buy?” What is the basis for your recommendations?
- Boris Gojanovic: In my practice, overall, I tend to agree with your recommendations…
My Opinion (in hindsight)
This part of the debate is my favorite (although it is too short to be able to discuss substantive issues). Several classic “clichés” about the risks associated with minimalism were mentioned. Furthermore, no one was able to commit as to the recommendations made (to clients, patients or students), under the pretense of lack of evidence.
My question is as follows: Should we let companies and retailers fabricate recommendations for the general public (a current practice in Europe and North America which has led maximalism to dominate with 95% and 85% of market shares, respectively)?
Next week, question 4 of 6: Running shoes and performance: What is the basis for our recommendations?