I am the proud owner of a pair of VFFs (as I like to call them).
Apparently, thanks to somebody named Valerie Bezdek, I’m eligible to a claim of about $95 for having been deceived by the makers of the Vibram FiveFinger shoe. According to an interview given to Runner’s World by Harvard Law Professor, John C. P. Goldberg, “…The gist of her claim is that Vibram illegally obtained an economic windfall from her because it was only by making false health claims that Vibram induced consumers to buy FiveFingers shoes, and to pay more for them than they would have otherwise,”
The false or unfounded health claims, according to the class action law suit (full text here), are that minimalist “running” shoe claimed to reduce foot injury while strengthening the muscles of the foot and lower legs. Unfortunately for Vibram, the type of research that would substantiate those claims takes way too much time. The company opted to go with their theoretical reasoning and anecdotal evidence for basis of their marketing claims. (for more on the biomechanics, see The Fit Ink.)
So I guess I should collect since, in our current society I am legally justified in doing so. The problem is, I didn’t buy these shoes for the purpose of running. It would be foolish to think that I could ask my feet to transition from the type of shoe they’ve learned how to work in for 3 decades to 3mm of vulcanized rubber without any ill-effects. I bought my VFFs for walking around the house, the park and occasionally, the hiking trails. I have a lower leg injury that has stymied my doctors for the past 3 years. I may not know exactly what it is, but I do know how to alleviate the pain. MOBILITY
Allowing the small bones in my feet to constantly conform to the ground I walk on serves as a never-ending massage that both soothes and challenges the muscles and fascia responsible for absorbing shock and transferring energy from the ground to my legs. No other shoe has done this as well as my VFFs.
There are studies that show that when seasoned runners “gradually switch” to VFFs they show increased bone marrow edema (which is associated with stress fractures). That’s pretty scary stuff…If you were one of the few poorly informed/advised souls who thought they could make a clean transition from running in their Asics to their Vibrams.
I’ll pass on my portion of the settlement because I was not harmed, nor fooled by the claims of Vibram. I purchased my minimalist “finger shoes” for a specific purpose and they have served me well. I did my research on the application I had in mind (walking) and I made the decision to buy. Just because the right studies have not yet been performed over the right amount of time does not mean that the product hasn’t been a great help to me and many others.
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For more in-depth thoughts on this issue, comment below and read these other great posts:
Katy Bowman: http://www.katysays.com
Roland Denzel: http://thefitink.com