I’ve been getting a lot of comments lately in regards to the post I made with my thoughts on the Vibram FiveFingers lawsuit. I wish I could respond to each and every post all the time does not permit. I will do my best to respond to as many as I can.
I really think this has been blown out of proportion and this is a typical class action lawsuit. Vibram USA was sued not because they made false claims, but because they sold a lot of shoes and made a lot of money. It’s no different than Apple being sued, Pepsi being sued, or McDonald’s being sued. Vibram made a lot of money from selling a lot of shoes which generated a lot of attention. There without a doubt is scientific evidence that does demonstrate an increase in muscle strength from running in this manner. At the time there were no studies demonstrating increasing muscle strength from running in Vibram FiveFingers directly but the conclusion is clearly evident from these other studies. Removing a 14 mm heel from beneath your foot without a doubt improves anatomic position. I don’t understand how these claims were falsified in regards to obtaining better alignment. I could go on and on about this but that is not the point of this post. I would like to make an analogy.
Many of you are familiar with the shoe company ASICS. They produce a product that contains gel in it’s midsole. What exactly is this gel doing? Are there any studies that exist demonstrating its ability to increase shock more than any other shoe? For those who have not seen the amount of gel that is inside the midsole see the below picture.
The inside of an ASICS Gel Kayano
Does this small amount of gel have to do anything in terms of shock absorption, or is it propaganda? I am in no way inferring that ASICS made false claims that this gel will reduce injury, strengthen the foot, or improve running, but they did sell a lot of this product by marketing it with gel midsoles. If this gel is not improving anyone’s running or injury reduction in no difference from any other shoe company are the consumers then entitled to a refund? I am not saying anyone should be, but in no way is this a different from the Vibram FiveFingers lawsuit. The consumers choose which shoe to buy based on the advertisements the company creates. If the Gel is not improving the shoes absorptive qualities in any manner to reduce injury or improve running, then it has no reason for being. If there are no studies that show this Gel in proves this shoe is in any manner different from any other shoe, then ASICS indeed leveraged the sale of their shoe through the inclusion of a Gel midsole.
ASICS was one of the last few shoe companies recently to introduce what could be considered a minimalist shoe. They had stuck with the old paradigm of motion control and stability. Their entrance came with a shoe that was known as the Gel 33. ASICS has renamed their gel 33 shoe and termed it a shoe that promotes natural movement (wonder where this concept came from?)
So on some days when you feel like you don’t need support you wear this shoe??
Align to the PRECISE geometric configuration and specific biomechanical needs of neutral runners. Is this claiming to achieve anatomical alignment as Vibram USA did??
The Vintage Running Shoe Ads
What did we learn over the past 40 years through creating running shoes? Does all this so called technology really make any difference? Consider the original Nike Waffle running shoe. The goal of this project by these two guys in Oregon was to create some traction bottom of the shoe and cushion the foot. When you look at what has evolved over the last forty or so years is basically nothing then simply add MORE to the shoe.
The following ads demonstrate claims that various running shoe companies have made over the years.
This ad for Vans running shoes clearly demonstrates a heel strike pattern and describes a “rear foot impact test”. Not sure what this means but it goes along with the trend of advocating heel striking. Also, we even see the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine is even involved in these shoes in testing and approving. Please don’t take this the wrong way. I am in no way saying that the ACPSM is to blame for anything or am I defaming them. I am trying to make aware of how this entire pattern of heel striking became. There was and still is no scientific evidence for it but it was influenced upon us all through shoe companies, ads, coaches, and health professionals.
See the term heelstrike mentioned here? In 1985 Brooks advocates a heel strike.
Here’s a claim if I ever saw one. A more efficient toe-off. How??
Who taught us to heel strike? Was it the ads?
I just think it’s worth mentioning the following ads have without a doubt helped to change the course of running. When you see that cushioned heel you intuitively think you have to land on it.
Dr. Campitelli is a podiatrist in Akron, OH specializing in foot and ankle surgery with an interest and enthusiasm for running as well as helping runners with injuries. For the past several years he has been treating running injuries in patients by fixing their form and transitioning them to minimalist shoes. Having treated runners with all types of injuries through conservative measures with orthotics and shoe gear changes to reconstructive foot and ankle surgery, Dr. Campitelli has brought what works best and is most current to his practice as well as the Akron and Cleveland running communities.