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Vibram’s Five Fingers shoes have always looked a bit ridiculous, but now a court case in the US has concluded that they also don’t live up to their promises.
In their marketing efforts Vibram claimed that their minimalist running shoes: 1. Strengthen muscles in the feet and lower legs. 2. Improve the range of motion in the ankles, feet, and toes. 3. Stimulates neural function, which is important to balance and agility. 4. Eliminates heel lift to align the spine and improve posture. 5. Allows the foot and body to move naturally.
A class action lawsuit brought against Vibram, claimed that none of these marketing statements have been scientifically validated. A US court agreed, allowing the class action members to get a partial refund on their shoes. The court also prohibited Vibram from making any further unscientific claims.
The barefoot running craze, which led to the boom in minimalist shoes, started after the book: Born to Run by Chrisopher McDougall gained popularity.
McDougall argues that traditional heavily cushioned shoes lead to injuries because they encourage runners to take large strides and land on their heels, while barefoot running forces runners to take shorter strides, which reduces impact and result in less injury.
However, there’s no conclusive scientific evidence to back claims that barefoot running prevents injury. A Men’s Health article: The Truth About Barefoot Running, reports that while barefoot or minimalist shoe running may benefit some people, it can be harmful to those whose running style is not suited to the shoeless experience.
For anyone who wants to become a barefoot runner, it’s a good idea to follow the tips in the Men’s Health article: Do This Before You Run Barefoot, or else risk an injury that’s likely to impede your training.
If you’re still interested in becoming a barefoot warrior we suggest that you don’t follow the example of this Men’s Health blogger in Confessions of a Shoeless Office Worker. Barefoot running shouldn’t be brainless running.