We have written a fair few articles about the barefoot running movement, exploring the debate for and against the merits of ditching the traditional running shoe.
Recent article: Running Confusion - Shoes vs Orthotics vs Barefoot Movement
The very first version of the five-fingered running shoe (a flat, rubber soled slip on style shoe with glove like inserts for each toe) was made by a company called Vibram. Since this first design a lot of other manufacturers have produced a diverse range of flatter style shoes to meet the growing demand for the more ‘natural’ running with less supporting cushion under your feet, AKA barefoot running.
Arguments over the merits of barefoot running have been intense with questionable claims supporting for and against it. The company Vibram has just recently settled a claim of nearly $4million for deceptive marketing about the health benefits of the five-fingered. It seems an estimated 70 million Vibram customers might be getting a payout to some extent.
Read about the Vibram lawsuit here…- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/10/_n_5302213.html
Does this case now support the idea that barefoot running has always been just a fad?
No it probably does not. We can’t deny there is evidence of a lot of people/ groups who successfully run barefoot, either in the literal sense of bare skin on earth or by using an adapted barefoot-shoe. It is understood that barefoot running changes the loading and muscle activation patterns within the body and is quite suitable for some people.
Vibram may have overstepped the boundary with the health claims of their product but what happened to common sense among the general population? Here lies one of the problems with the extremism in public opinion. Many people seem to love a debate and quickly adopt one of the extreme views either side of the argument. If they so happened to fall in love with the barefoot idea and made a hasty transition from their usual running shoe to a more barefoot style one - well then their risk of injury is going to be quite high.
So where does this leave us in the debate?
We remain comfortable sitting on the fence believing that everyone is different and must establish what works for them.
Here are some related articles worth looking at if you are interesting in barefoot running: