Vibram’s ‘Barefoot Running’ Shoes: A Fraud?

I’m not going to lie… I have a pair of Vibram FiveFingers shoes sitting in my closet right now. I haven’t worn them enough to make anecdotes for or against their supposed barefoot “benefits.” But I was none the less slightly surprised when I read that Vibram recently settled a class action lawsuit against their company.

According to Matt McCue of RunnersWorld.com:

Vibram USA, the company that makes FiveFingers running shoes, has agreed to settle a lawsuit that alleged the company made false and unsubstantiated claims about the health benefits of its glove-like footwear. According to the court filings, Vibram settled to put the matter to rest and avoid any additional legal expenses. ‘Vibram expressly denied and continues to deny any wrongdoing alleged in the Actions, and neither admits nor concedes any actual or potential fault, wrongdoing or liability,’ read the court brief.”

A woman named Valerie Bezdek started this class action suit in early 2012. Although the suit was originally filed in Massachusetts (Vibram’s U.S. Headquarters) it was later joined by suits in California and Illinois.

While further research may be needed to discern whether minimalist running shoes are pure hype, Bezdek’s lawsuit was based on the claims that “Vibram deceived consumers by advertising that the footwear could reduce foot injuries and strengthen foot muscles, without basing those assertions on any scientific merit.”[1]

Bezdek’s choice to sue Vibram may seem extreme, but her assertions did have enough merit to stop Vibram from making any further health claims about their shoes, and provide a $3.75 million dollar settlement to valid class action members.

Whether barefoot running will end up being considered “bunk” in the end is still to be determined, but one study did suggest thatRunners interested in transitioning to minimalist running shoes, such as Vibram FiveFingers should transition very slowly and gradually in order to avoid potential stress injury in the foot.” [2]

Related Stories:
The Barefoot Running Debate
5 Wacky Running Trends

Sources:
Runner’s World: Vibram Agrees to Settle Class Actin Lawsuit
[1] Runner’s World:Vibram Lawsuit Explained
[2] http://unique-sportstime.de/site/wp-content/uploads/Barfuss-Laufen1.pdf

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119 comments

Janice Thompson
Janice Thompsonabout a year ago

Don't understand what the problem is. They claimed false benefits. They got caught.

Elena T.
Elena Poensgen1 years ago

Thank you :)

Tanya W.
Tanya W.1 years ago

Ta

Tanya W.
Tanya W.1 years ago

Ta

JL A.
JL A.1 years ago

good to know

Julianna D.
Juliana D.1 years ago

Rediculous- the shoes are WONDERFUL. But you actually have to STRENGTHEN YOUR FEET FIRST- by walking/running slowly barefoot- slowly increasing the difficulty in terrain. If you have taken the time to PROPERLY break yourself and the shoes in- then YOU WOULD NOTICE the difference between these and other shoes. Everyone else I've met that wears them religeously- SWEARS BY THEM.

Jennifer H.
Jennifer H.1 years ago

I had not even heard of them before but at least now I know not to consider them in the future!

Janis K.
Janis K.1 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Sonali G.
Sonali G.1 years ago

Well i bet there are lots of members who have some good advise for running/walking and what equipment could be recommended too.

Sonali G.
Sonali G.1 years ago

Interesting especially from my perspective at the moment. I bought some walking boots that appeared on the whole not bad. I made the mistake of jogging down hill in them when I was in a hurry one morning. The next day I developed blisters; big juicy bubbles on one toe and both heals. I am purchasing a pair of trainers for the summer; the theory is that they will be more appropriate for what I am doing and also cooler in hot weather. Getting the right footwear and comfortable socks is very important if you plan to walk/jog/run. I regret my actions. The big blister on my toe burst today when I was walking around at work. I reakon it'll hurt when I go for a walk tomorrow. The price you pay;)