The recent lawsuit that was filed against the Vibram FiveFingers has caused a furor in the running community. As always, there are those who are for running barefoot and against it.
If you have not heard about the news yet, five law firms in Massachusetts alleged that Vibram “used deceptive statements about the health benefits of barefoot running.” Moreover, the lawsuit states that, “given that Defendants’ advertising and marketing equates barefoot running with running in FiveFingers, Defendants uniform deceptive statements about barefoot running are also deceptive statements about Five Fingers.”
If we’ll look at the Vibram FiveFingers website, we can read the “deceptive ads” that the lawsuit pertains to and these are:
- Strengthen muscles in the feet and lower legs
- Improve range of motion in ankles, feet, and toes
- Stimulate neural function, improving balance and agility
- Align the spine and improve posture
Furthermore, the lawsuit also purports that no studies can back up Vibram’s health benefit claims and that it “may increase injury risk as compared to running in conventional running shoes, and even when compared to running barefoot.”
Vibram will of course fight the charges against them. In their website, barefoot running newbies will find a step-by-step guide on how to run in VFFs. The guide contains a warning for runners to change their gait – from landing on their heels to softly landing on the balls of their feet; to start slow and incorporate foot stretching exercises; and that it will probably take 13 weeks up to a year to safely run in VFFs.
As with most companies, Vibram has a disclaimer that warns of an inherent risk and that “such training initiatives may be dangerous if performed incorrectly and may not be appropriate for everyone.”
Although the complainants are not asking for compensation for any personal injury that they may have suffered, they are asking the court to get Vibram to cease their “deceptive” advertising and give back the “premium price” that the customers have paid for their VFFs as well as to cover their attorneys’ fees.
Despite the gravity of this situation, let me redirect you to some comments from indignant barefoot runners which I found a bit funny and yet hold some truth about this whole barefoot running business:
So what are your thoughts about this recent attack against Vibram and indirect jab at barefoot running?
P.S. If you want to read more about the news, you can visit: