Logo of brjsmedBritish Journal of Sports MedicineVisit this articleSubmit a manuscriptReceive email alertsContact usBMJ
Br J Sports Med. Dec 1997; 31(4): 299–303.
PMCID: PMC1332563

Hazard of deceptive advertising of athletic footwear.


OBJECTIVES: Athletic footwear are associated with frequent injury that are thought to result from repetitive impact. No scientific data suggest they protect well. Expensive athletic shoes are deceptively advertised to safeguard well through "cushioning impact", yet account for 123% greater injury frequency than the cheapest ones. This study tested the hypothesis that deceptive advertising creates a false sense of security with users of expensive athletic shoes, inducing attenuation of impact moderating behaviour, increased impact, and injury. METHODS: Fifteen young healthy male volunteers confronted four surfaces: a bare force moment platform, and three with this platform covered by identical shoe sole material made to appear different and advertised divergently. Advertising messages suggested superior impact absorption and protection (deceptive message), poor impact absorption and high injury risk (warning message), and unknown impact absorption and safety (neutral message). Ground reaction forces were recorded for 10 barefoot footfalls, according to a protocol requiring stepping forward from perch to a surface 4.5 cm below. RESULTS: Impact varied as a function of advertising message (p < 0.001). Deceptive message equalled neutral message in eliciting higher impact than the warning message and the bare platform. Differences grew with repetitions (p < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: These data provide a plausible mechanism explaining higher injury frequency in users of expensive athletic shoes. This is the first report to suggest: (1) deceptive advertising of protective devices may represent a public health hazard and may have to be eliminated presumably through regulation; (2) a tendency in humans to be less cautious when using new devices of unknown benefit because of overly positive attitudes associated with new technology and novel devices.

Full text

Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (957K), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References.

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Gross TS, Bunch RP. Material moderation of plantar impact stress. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1989 Oct;21(5):619–624. [PubMed]
  • Brunet ME, Cook SD, Brinker MR, Dickinson JA. A survey of running injuries in 1505 competitive and recreational runners. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 1990 Sep;30(3):307–315. [PubMed]
  • James SL, Bates BT, Osternig LR. Injuries to runners. Am J Sports Med. 1978 Mar-Apr;6(2):40–50. [PubMed]
  • Dekel S, Weissman SL. Joint changes after overuse and peak overloading of rabbit knees in vivo. Acta Orthop Scand. 1978 Dec;49(6):519–528. [PubMed]
  • Hellmann DB, Helms CA, Genant HK. Chronic repetitive trauma: a cause of atypical degenerative joint disease. Skeletal Radiol. 1983;10(4):236–242. [PubMed]
  • Robbins SE, Hanna AM. Running-related injury prevention through barefoot adaptations. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1987 Apr;19(2):148–156. [PubMed]
  • Robbins SE, Hanna AM, Gouw GJ. Overload protection: avoidance response to heavy plantar surface loading. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1988 Feb;20(1):85–92. [PubMed]
  • Robbins SE, Gouw GJ, Hanna AM. Running-related injury prevention through innate impact-moderating behavior. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1989 Apr;21(2):130–139. [PubMed]
  • Robbins S, Waked E. Balance and vertical impact in sports: role of shoe sole materials. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1997 May;78(5):463–467. [PubMed]
  • Cook SD, Kester MA, Brunet ME. Shock absorption characteristics of running shoes. Am J Sports Med. 1985 Jul-Aug;13(4):248–253. [PubMed]
  • Robbins S, Waked E, Gouw GJ, McClaran J. Athletic footwear affects balance in men. Br J Sports Med. 1994 Jun;28(2):117–122. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Robbins S, Gouw GJ, McClaran J. Shoe sole thickness and hardness influence balance in older men. J Am Geriatr Soc. 1992 Nov;40(11):1089–1094. [PubMed]

Articles from British Journal of Sports Medicine are provided here courtesy of BMJ Group


Related citations in PubMed

See reviews...See all...

Cited by other articles in PMC

See all...


  • PubMed
    PubMed citations for these articles

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...