Back to list

Austin, Texas debate on footwear


Simon Bartold: podiatrist, ASICS International Research Consultant

Strengths: Excellent speaker, used to present in front of audiences of retailers.

Weakness: Biased by his position (ASICS)

Blaise Dubois, physiotherapist

Strength: Knows well the literature on the subject.

Weakness: Presents controversy in a language that’s not his (English) in front of a retailers audience.

Daniel Crumback, physiotherapist

Strength: Clinician at the avant-garde that always brings people to think…


NB : The objective here with this report wasn’t to start an ego war but to clarify the essence of this scientific debate  


Points where everyone agrees

  • The cause of injuries running is related to training factors more than to shoes.
  • The body is adaptable and unique
  • The importance in shoe selling is the personalization… avoid the « one size fits all »
  • Retailers have a determinant role on consumers by their elaborate competences not only in fitting but also by being the front line players. They have the main spot to give tips related to health, running in general, training, injuries prevention, …


What we learnt about Simon

  • Simon again succeeded to make everyone believe that the company he works for (ASICS) is a leader in research by being associated to many universities around the world.
  • Without directly saying that traditional shoes prevent from being injured, he seemed convinced that his shoes were better for (?)… precise biomechanics factors (but not related with injuries).
  • According to him, it is too difficult to do a study oriented specifically on injuries, which justifies to them the absence of literature on the subject. (note: some protocols are presently undergoing by independent researchers in Boston, South Africa and Québec… to follow)  


Important questions for Simon that he did not answered

  • Does the person that starts a running program in a pair of Nimbus (big shoe from ASICS) has more or less chances to get injured than running in a pair of Piranhas (ASICS’s most minimal shoe)?
  • At what age should we recommend a traditional shoe? What should our children wear?


Debate recap


Blaise :

I know Daniel well enough and we are almost at the same page when speaking about running shoes… The debate was so more against Simon. Our ideas are dramatically opposed. I thought he was going to be a good debater relying on his knowledge of literature… I realized that he’s an excellent debater that argues without good look on literature.”


Simon has frankly won the debate. He knows the recipe really well.

1. Valorize the audience and, with humour, make them accept the important commercial bias which the speaker is involved with.

2. Discredit opponents and what they exposed.

3. Justify his points with complex, biased, unclear scientific literature but that seems acceptable

4. Finishing with a magic quote to revalorize the audience like “It’s not true that one size fits all”


Blaise : 

“Simon hasn’t been honest on a scientific point of view. His speech would not have held 2 minutes in front of a scientific audience. But as a speaker he is very comfortable and knows how to do to share his point. Too bad he doesn’t speak French!J “ 

By commenting on every points that Blaise defended at the KMag’s debate in Montreal, his presentation was to pick a citation from Blaise, then mention that his “bullshit-o-meter” was in the red zone and to present a counter-argument.


Blaise :

“I’m a good player… his bullshit-o-meter was funny… I felt very popular to be cited more than all the other authors that he mentioned.”  

His scientific counter-arguments were referring to 7 articles sometimes not existing, often non-pertinent, and especially always single (exposing only one article showing his point when 10 others show the opposite)  


Blaise : 

The 7 articles quoted in his presentation were far from literature’s reality. We can always find an article that says YES and another that says NO. It is important to have a look on all what’s written. For example, he mentioned many times the study of Clark-2011 (note that Clark works for ASICS Sports Medicine Research Fellow Centre for Health) to show that shoes lowered impact force. A study that is non-existing on databases and showing the opposite than 10 others.” Or the one fromKingchinton cited as proof that the god selection of shoe prevents injuries and is more comfortable… for 40 Rugby players… yes… Rugby. To me this is really under-estimating the capacity of reflexion and discernment of the audience. As much as he  scored points during his presentation, as much he will lose his credibility when the conference will be analyzed. (a video will be soon presented and commented) » 

The funniest thing in all this is that he used his presentation (at the end of it) by giving a superb scoop to all the retailers showing a new technology that ASICS will soon promote, mentioning that it was going to represent foot’s anatomy with its axis of movement... another magic idea that will be put on the market without any scientific evidence and making the consumers believe that it is the best shoe in the world and that research and development behind it justify its high price.


Blaise : 

“We will meet again in Australia… my English is not going to be better but the audience will be more varied and MY “bullshit-o-meter” will be well turned on. “