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Vibram Sued for FiveFingers: My Reaction

NOTE: Neither Hungry or Fit are sponsored or employed by Vibram or any of its affiliates nor do we have any professional or personal relationships or agreements with any individuals affiliated with or employed by Vibram or any of its partners. All opinions are 100% the property of Hungry.

Please click on this link and read the original story. That is also my citation so no one give me grief about plagiarism! I came across this article the day it was published (about five days ago) and had a significant reaction to what occurred. To loosely summarize the event, two year ago a woman led a lawsuit against Vibram claiming that they deceptively advertised their minimalist shoes and fabricated the health benefits of wearing and exercising in a pair. Vibram lost and it cost them nearly FOUR MILLION dollars. Oh… and now the 70,000,000 Americans that purchased a pair since 2009 are entitled to refunds up to $94 a pair. Here is my reaction.

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$300 would really help right now. We just paid taxes, we’re going back to school, we really really want a second vehicle, and those $282 that I could get refunded would make a serious difference. I have had three pairs since 2009; Alana bought me two of those. At first, they were difficult to fit to my ridiculously oddly shaped feet but Vibram replaced them with different sizes for me at no additional cost. I owned three different models and they each fit differently, some better than others. Once you find the right size… they are very comfortable, in my opinion.

I have used them for all kinds of physical activity from running on the beach to Spartan Races to Warrior Dashes to 5ks to martial arts to bodybuilding to powerlifting to just about everything else I do. Sometimes they work better then other forms of footwear, sometimes I can’t tell a difference, and sometimes they are clearly not very effective. Vibram tries to help you in the selection process by creating shoes for specific disciplines, but it is really all up to you to decide what you like. AND THAT IS THE KEY!

We make our own decisions. If someone tells you to eat dirt because it will make your muscles grow, will you do it? What if a company that is really popular at the time tells you to do it, then what? Everyone who purchased a pair of FiveFingers should have done their research (online, books, magazines, etc.), talked to experts (their doctor, podiatrist, sports medicine professionals, personal trainers, etc.), and thought of the consequences of wearing minimalist shoes. I weigh over 200lbs and have ZERO foot arch. I have a size 11.5 right foot and 12.5 left foot (American sizes)… oh, and they are both EE width. When I run, I am always visited by my best friends, shin splints. Having these minimalist shoes does not help my impact like wearing moon shoes would, so do I run on hard surfaces with them? NO!

 

Now, do I think, as a professional in the fitness field that these can help strengthen muscles in the lower legs and feet, improve range of motion in the ankles, feet, and toes, and aid in developing balance and agility… YES, I DO. If they are used responsibly with proper fitness regiments and technique, they most certainly can and they have for me. I’m not quite sold on the elimination of heel lift, development of better posture, and ability to move naturally (maybe more naturally than certain footwear) but that’s beyond the point. I did not buy the shoes for ANY of the reasons that Vibram advertised, so I am not upset by these claims being deceptive for some individuals. 

To hit on one last point, I want to respond to the claims of the APMA that these shoes can have negative health impacts, including being more prone to allowing puncture wounds and increasing stress on the lower parts of the your legs. Are you serious? Is this not COMPLETELY OBVIOUS to everyone? There is clearly very little protection on the bottom, and Vibram does not hide this. They don’t need to though because you can look at a pair in the store and see that if you step on a thumbtack, that point WILL go through your skin. Also, you’re making your lower extremities more vulnerable but that is usually the case when trying to strengthen something. Will pushups make my chest stronger? Yes, they will. Will I be more likely to get hurt sitting on the couch or doing pushups? Obviously doing pushups, but you decide to become vulnerable in order to make progress. 

So, please, if you wear FiveFingers, other minimalist shoes, or ever wanted a pair do not abandon your desire because of this lawsuit. This SEEMS to be yet another case of people trying to set themselves for life because of a mistake they made themselves. Their egos will not allow them to be the ones at fault, so they point the finger, win for some strange reason, and never have to work again. If they really cared, they would donate that money to an organization that will provide shoes for developing countries and societies that want shoes. Or maybe they would donate it to an organization that could provide free surgical operations to people in need that have feet conditions. (I have had MULTIPLE foot operations and know how debilitating those conditions can be when they are not treated. I wish it on no one else.) Do your research on the topic, take responsibility for YOUR actions, and know that this part of your life is in your hands. You get to decide what shoes go on your feet in our country… don’t take that for granted. As always, stay hungry and fit!

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