Vibram, King of the "Barefoot Running Shoe", Settles a Multi Million Dollar Lawsuit

Peter Wishnie, D.P.M.
Owner of Family Foot & Ankle Specialists in Piscataway & Hillsborough, NJ
Posted on May 13, 2014
The FiveFinger Shoes company, Vibram, just settled a multi million dollar lawsuit. The suit claims the company advertised the shoes many health benefits without any real facts or studies to back up their claim. Now, the company is being forced to pay back $3.75 million in a  class action suit. Claiming to be a minimalist shoes, the price didn't seem to minimal. Many people paid around $100 a pair for the shoes. People who have purchased the shoes after March 2009 can submit valid claim forms and be reimbursed for the shoe. The estimated return each person will see is roughly $20-$50.

 

The class action suit was filed by Valerie Bezdek in March 2012 after she claims the company made false statements about the shoes health benefits without any scientific research or studies to back it up. The company had claimed the shoes could help to strengthen the muscles in the lower leg and feet, improve the range of motion in the feet and ankles, and allow the feet and ankle to perform and move more naturally than in a regular shoe.

From a podiatrist point of view, barefoot running can be a dangerous sport for many reasons. First, running barefoot leaves your foot exposed to every piece of debris left in your path- rocks, glass, sticks. many barefoot runner have been impaled and "stuck" by many objects while out and about. In addition, the claim many barefoot runners use to justify the benefits, "our feet perform better, more naturally without shoes", can be misleading. Yes, our feet, at one time, performed at their best without shoes. Well, that was hundreds and hundreds of years ago before shoes were invented to protect your feet. Those feet were not exposed to concrete and black top which in itself is not natural.

As a podiatry practice, we are definitely not against barefoot running. If you choose to barefoot run, you need to prepare. First, looking into a safe minimalist shoe can give you the best of both worlds. You get to feel the experience of barefoot running while still protecting your feet. While you may not gain any significant health benefits, the shoe is simply there to protect your feet while allowing to experience the sensations of feeling the earth below your feet!

If you choose to go full naked foot be sure to know your route, is it safe and clear of debris. Be sure to stretch your foot and start running without shoes in small increments. Don't just kick off your sneakers and go! Also, be sure to have your feet checked often! If you are barefoot running and hurt your foot or notice any changes, be sure to be checked immediately!

 

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