Last year we featured a blog post on what you needed to know about barefoot running. As we stated, advocates for barefoot running claim it leads to better foot biomechanics and lessens the risk of injury. However, the American Podiatric Medical Association and other experts recommend that you shouldn’t run barefoot.
In our post, one of our tips before beginning a barefoot running routine was to consider wearing minimalist footwear like the Vibram FiveFingers®. According to what we had read, the Vibram FiveFingers are designed to be more biomechanically efficient from an energy and force distribution standpoint.
However, we’ve now learned that the Vibram FiveFingers company is being sued in a couple of lawsuits for deceptive and misleading health benefit claims and the possible increased risk of injuries while wearing these shoes.
The company’s website claims the shoes allow runners to land on their forefoot, directly below their center of gravity. This action provides runners with “optimum balance, increased stability, less impact and greater propulsion.” Additionally, the website states that by wearing the FiveFingers shoes runners get all the health benefits of running barefoot such as “running faster and farther with fewer injuries.”
According to a report by ABC News, one class-action suit filed in California alleges that the “health benefits are false and deceptive because the FiveFingers shoes are not proven to provide any of the health benefits beyond what conventional running shoes provide.” Plus, the suit states, “FiveFingers may increase injury risk compared to running in conventional running shoes, and even when compared to barefoot running.”
The company website does provide a step-by-step guide that teaches runners how to correctly run in the FiveFingers shoes. While most runners land on their heels, runners wearing the FiveFingers shoes must land softly on the balls of their feet. Runners also are advised to perform foot-stretching exercises and gradually increase the length of their runs while wearing the shoes.
However, a 2011 study done by the American Council on Exercise found that of 16 women, ages 19 to 25, wearing Vibram FiveFingers Bikila shoes only half of the women could change their gait so they landed on the balls of their feet. Therefore, these women experience greater impact stress on their feet.
The California lawsuit is seeking “damages of over $5 million” on behalf of people who’ve purchased these shoes at a premium price due to these health claims.
We’ll continue to follow these lawsuits, and it will be interesting to see what is determined.
In the meantime, if you’re a runner who experiences foot pain, you may want to consider wearing custom orthotics, like ezWalker® Performance Insoles, in your running shoes. These insoles are designed to support the arches of your feet bring them and your whole body into correct biomechanical alignment. So you’ll have greater stability and balance with each step you take.
ezWalker® Insoles are ultra thin and ¾ in length unlike other orthotic products that are too bulky. Plus, they come with a 90-day, money-back guarantee, so you’ve got nothing to lose but your pain. So order your ezWalker® Insoles today.
Because … when your feet feel good, you feel good.