Recently the media has been swarming over the lawsuit against the Vibram Five Fingers Shoe company. The short hand version of the lawsuit is basically that the key marketing points Vibram claimed turned out to have no scientific evidence backing it up. Vibram’s barefoot shoes claim to:
(1) Strengthen muscles in the feet and lower legs
(2) Improve range of motion in the ankles, feet, and toes
(3) Stimulate neural function important to balance and agility
(4) Eliminate heel lift to align the spine and improve posture
(5) Allow the foot and body to move naturally
All of these claims have NO scientific evidence supporting it. However, I have personally found that these shoes have done most, if not all, of these claims. First of all, if you start wearing these barefoot shoes then changing your running form is an absolute must. From wearing shoes my entire life, I, like most humans, am a heal striker. But, after purchasing my first pair of shoes a few years ago I quickly learned from experience and several online articles that you must change your form in order to avoid injury.
It’s common sense really, any idiot could see that there is zero support and pretty much zero padding as well. If you run in these and continue to be a heal striker then you will get an running injury, no doubt about it. But, if you read the articles and watch the videos that Vibram has provided on how to run barefoot then you will learn how to become a forefoot striker, which, I feel, helps prove many of Vibram’s claims right.
If you run in the shoes properly then you will become a forefoot striker which will, of course, strengthen muscles in your lower legs. That should be obvious, it’s working the hell out of your calf muscles. Also, many of their other claims basically come from being a forefoot striker and really have hardly anything to do with the shoes at all.
Some of the other claims I can understand how there is no scientific evidence to support it which is why, I think, Vibram lost this case with virtually no fight.
The punishment Vibram will receive is that they must refund anyone who has purchased a pair of these funky toe shoes since 2009. Most refunds will range from only $20-$50.
I am on my second pair of Vibram’s and although I support this company 100% and stand behind everything they say I think I will still try to cash in on this refund. Mainly so I can use that money to buy another pair.