Barefoot Running – Vibram FiveFinger® Class Action Lawsuit

In past blogs, we have spent some time talking about barefoot running and our advice on best approaching it as a training tool.  The publication of ‘Born to Run’ a few years ago brought what had been primarily a training tool in college athletics or cultural habit to the forefront popular culture.  Historically, there have been a few runners who have completed major races without shoes, but few people saw it as a reason to abandon to do the same. Shoe manufacturers are always working to design shoes around the best since to address your terrain and foot mechanics. It probably always makes some sense to factor in that shoe manufacturers lose their purpose if we all stop wearing shoes.  Regardless, some manufacturers were working to merge the reported benefits of being barefoot with their shoe designs before the craze started. Since the spotlight has been on barefoot running the past few years almost every manufacturer has attempted to design a shoe to fit this niche.

We have only discussed a few of these ‘minimalist’ footwear options, including the Newton Terra Momentum® and Vivo Barefoot®. The Vibram FiveFinger® is probably one of those that stand out the most. Almost looking like a second skin, each of your toes is visible in the design.  While this unique design may have made it stand out amongst its competitors, it may also have made it a target for a lawsuit.  The web has been awash with news of the class action suit filed in Massachusetts court against the Vibram corporation at the end of March.  This class action lawsuit claims that Vibram made deceptive claims about the health benefits of their footwear and seeks damages in excess of $5 million.

The resolution of this case will definitely have an effect on the marketing practices of many shoe manufacturers.  Hopefully, you have not injured yourself by rushing into barefoot or minimalist running. The Vibram Website actually has some good suggestions on transitioning into these shoes if you feel they are for you.  We urge you to have your feet evaluated before taking this step.  Additionally, it is important to have a gradual transition into any type of footwear, be sure the shoe you choose is the proper one for your activity, and seek out your Austin podiatrist with any aches or pains.


Dr. Shine John, DPM, FACFAS
Podiatric Physician, Surgeon, Specialist at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists
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