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Vibram barefoot running controversy heats up

By on May 21, 2014
Vibram five fingers

The fall-out around the recent Vibram USA lawsuit continues to dominate the running world. The lawsuit alleged that the barefoot brand had made false and unsubstantiated claims about the health benefits of its footwear.

  • This was a lawsuit about an advertising campaign, not a style of running shoes, writes Peter Vigneron of Outside Online. It’s an unfortunate affair, he argues, not least as minimalist shoes are in his view better than normal shoes.
  • The jury’s still out, notes Matt McCarthy. Some recent evidence indicates that barefoot-style footwear may be associated with a reduction in knee injuries. But that may be at the expense of greater stress on the Achilles tendon.
  • As the Vibram affair blew up, attention swiftly turned to Chris McDougall of Born To Run (Wikipedia | Amazon) fame. McDougall noted, in an interview with Jon Gugala, that he was hoping for some kind of popular response when he wrote the book. But he wasn’t anticipating was minimalist and barefoot running. In fact, the chapter on running shoe brands’ claims about injury prevention almost didn’t make the final cut, as the quote below illustrates.

That chapter on running shoes? I was really on the fence as to whether to keep it in. I was on the verge of chopping it out, because it seemed to me to be the driest part of the book.

Background to the Vibram barefoot running lawsuit

Two weeks ago news emerged that Vibram USA had agreed to settle a lawsuit over the health benefits of its running shoes. The lawsuit alleged that the had company had made false and unsubstantiated claims about the health benefits of footwear like the glove-like FiveFingers model. As reported by Matt McCue in Runner’s World, Vibram settled to put the matter to rest and avoid any additional legal expenses and made the following statement in its court brief:

Vibram expressly denied and continues to deny any wrongdoing alleged in the Actions, and neither admits nor concedes any actual or potential fault, wrongdoing or liability.

More on the Vibram barefoot running affair

More on this story below; click here for daily running new updates and click here for breaking news.

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Vibram barefoot running controversy

Latest coverage of the Vibram barefoot running injury controversy

Source: http://www.runninginjury.co.uk/community/vibram-barefoot-running-lawsuit/

May 20, 2014 - regressing.deadspin.com - 16
Vibram barefoot running controversy | The Scientific Case Against Vibram's FiveFinger Running Shoe

Excellent account of the controversy. As Matt McCarthy puts it, the jury is still out:
"Last week's class-action settlement by Vibram, an Italian footwear manufacturer known for making silly-looking lightweight running shoes, recalls the recent case against Sketchers, a company that agreed to pay out $40 million after falsely claiming that walking in its product would give you Kim Kardashian's bootie."

May 20, 2014 - runnersworld.com - 14
Vibram barefoot running controversy | Vibram Agrees to Settle Class Action Lawsuit

Straight no-frills coverage from Runner's World:
"Vibram USA, the company that makes FiveFingers running shoes, has agreed to settle a lawsuit that alleged the company made false and unsubstantiated claims about the health benefits of its glove-like footwear. According to the court filings, Vibram settled to put the matter to rest and avoid any additional legal expenses."

May 20, 2014 - fittish.deadspin.com - 18
Vibram barefoot running controversy | Chris McDougall: I Never Meant To Start A Barefoot-Running Fad

Nice collection of Born To Run-related quotes in this Deadspin article:

"In 2009, Chris McDougall published, an account of his adventures in the remote canyons of Mexico. From his travelogue was birthed an industry-shifting movement that re-examined everything once accepted as gospel truth about running shoes. One of the uglier fruits of that movement: the Vibram FiveFingers shoe, a foot condom that enjoyed a brief, inexplicable vogue thanks to the minimalist-shoe fad."

May 20, 2014 - outsideonline.com - 16
Vibram barefoot running controversy | The Death of Minimalism

An interesting take from Outside Online. As it puts it, "this was a lawsuit about an advertising campaign, not a style of running shoes".

"There's been a certain gleefulness in response to the news that Vibram has settled a class-action lawsuit over its FiveFingers running shoes for $3.75 million. The FiveFingers have always been ridiculous looking, but now (finally!) there's proof that they're not even good for you."

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