All over the major running news outlets, there is article after article talking about the recent Vibram settlement. I figure since I’ve been running in minimal shoes for the past few years that I’d throw my two cents into the matter.
Essentially, Vibram made claims that the shoes strengthen and help prevent injury, as part of their marketing strategy to sell a theoretically healthier way of running. Add in the book Born to Run, and sales exploded. The problem though with making any health claim in today’s world is, someone is going to sue the shit out of you if you can’t explicitly prove your claims. So naturally, that’s what happened. And it’s not the first time either. Do you remember those Shape-Ups that tone your butt? In 2012 Sketchers was sued for those, settling for 4o million bucks.Before that, Rebook also had to settle for 25 million for making claims of toning. Vibram got off easy with only paying out ~3.5 million.
The only real take-a-way from this, in my opinion is, companies really need to stop making health claims because there is far too much noise in the data, and you will be sued. All it takes is for a research to take 50 runners and change their shoes and ask them to run. The vast majority will get injured regardless of what they are wearing anyway.
I’ve written many times, the key to being injury free isn’t what you are wearing on your feet, but rather taking the time to build up your strength. It takes a few months if you’ve never run before to train safely up to a 5k. You need to wake up your body from its inactivity, and be gentle about it. Putting on Vibrams feels pretty amazing and people rush out the gate in them, setting up a disaster waiting to happen.
I’ve loved wearing Vibrams, my wife is on her second pair and between then two of us we are at about 1500 miles in them. They are weight-less, and just fun to have. Our major issues have been IT band related, which is the most common ailment of all runners anyway. It is sad because people will use this as more ammunition to point and say, “See I told you they were bad”, when really they should just let people run in what they want, and what works for them. If your $300 orthotic inserts work for you, great. Have fun.