Claims that trainers protect feet under investigation

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Trading standards officers are investigating claims by the makers of expensive trainers for how well their shoes protect the wearer's feet.

Shropshire Trading Standards has acted after a complaint from a member of the public about trainers. The investigation is focusing on the advertising and marketing of the shoes' supposed special features for protecting the feet from impact. Many brand-name shoes, which cost as much as pounds 90 to pounds 100 a pair, claim all manner of advanced technology. If officers find that the shoes do not provide special protection the makers could be in contravention of the Trades Description Act and would face court action.

"We are interested in looking at certain brands of footwear after a member of the public said that his trainers were not doing what they`re supposed to do," said Stephan Addinell of Shropshire Trading Standards.

As part of the investigation, officers are studying research published last month by scientists from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. The report, in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, said athletes who believed the claims of manufacturers were in more danger of injury because of raised expectations of their shoes' performance.

The scientists looked into the injuries among 5,000 people taking part in a 16km race in Berne, Switzerland. Those wearing expensive trainers were more than twice as likely to injure their feet as runners wearing less expensive makes.

The report found: "Expensive shoes account for 123 per cent greater frequency of injury than the lowest-cost models, regardless of manufacturer."

The report said that no athletic footwear had ever been shown to protect well against injuries and it was therefore deceptive for advertisements to say they afforded good protection.