Will barefoot running shoes really strengthen your feet?
Pictured: Vibram FiveFingers Women’s Bikila LS running shoe Vibram recently agreed to settle a lawsuit over claims about its FiveFingers
Pictured: Vibram FiveFingers Women’s Bikila LS running shoe
Vibram recently agreed to settle a lawsuit over claims about its FiveFingers barefoot running shoe. The lawsuit was filed over claims that Vibram used "deceptive marketing" in claiming that the shoes offered the following benefits:
‘ Strengthen muscles in the feet and lower legs
‘ Improve range of motion in the ankles, feet and toes
‘ Stimulate neural function important to balance and agility
‘ Eliminate heel lift to align the spine and improve posture
‘ Allow the foot and body to move naturally
According to a court brief quoted by Runner’s World, Vibram stands by its product and denies the allegations, but has settled for $3.75 million to avoid additional legal expenses. As a result, American consumers who purchased Vibram FiveFingers shoes after March 21, 2009 could be refunded up to $94 per pair. (No word yet on whether refunds will be available for Canadian customers.) News about the lawsuit settlement has gotten some strong reactions. On theatlantic.com, writer James Fallows explains why he remains devoted to his Vibram FiveFingers shoes, and in an interview with globalnews.ca, Toronto marathoner Alex Flint says he won’t be trying to get any money back.
In this besthealthmag.ca article, Toronto-based kinesiologist John Gray, said that while some of his patients who have adopted the barefoot shoe have seen an improvement in foot strength, others saw no change or had their foot conditions actually worsen. It depends on the individual. "If you have flat feet, barefoot shoes won’t help’you need to work with a rehabilitation specialist who will actually help you re-train the foot in order to maintain the medial or the longitudinal arch," he said.
I have a few pairs of minimalist running shoes that I do run in regularly because I like their flexibility and how lightweight they are. But I have discovered that I prefer a little more cushioning when I’m running distances 10 kilometres or longer. Check with a physiotherapist, kinesiologist or your doctor to find out if you’re wearing the right shoes.
What type of running shoes do you run in? What has been your experience with barefoot running shoes? Tell us in the comments below.