Vibram FiveFingers $3.5 Million Class Action Settlement

Was it deception or delusion?

Our brains lie to us. Our brains practically demand we eat an entire pint of ice cream at midnight or drink another glass of wine at 1am. We rationalize it’s okay because in that moment we are emotionally alive!

Free-spirited, caution-to-the-wind, live-for-today emotions remind us of our younger years when a small misstep was met with a quick recovery and our brains encourage us to relive those moments as we get older. 

70 million American consumers bought the “barefoot running” vision, but they forgot about evolution.

I purchased Vibram 5Fingers because their marketing message of feeling earth beneath my feet brought back memories of running in the grass barefoot, through a sprinkler or on the rainy pavement of my family’s driveway. The premise of Vibram’s marketing makes sense in our brains; running barefoot is the human body’s intended engineering.

However, our physical reality is that we do wear shoes and our bodies have adapted to them. Our gait compensates for heel height, foot pronation for impact, arch shape for fit. Most of us don’t live in a barefoot world anymore.

‘Naked running’ is like taking the rubber off your car’s tires.

I used my Vibrams a couple times in the fall of ’13 and enjoyed the flexibility, a feature I’m always looking for in a running shoe. After a brutal winter I excitedly pulled my Vibrams out in April ’14. I wore them for an hour before I began my run and noticed a dull pain in my lower back. I reasoned this was a perfect example of why I shouldn’t wear heels every day, and I stretched. A half hour into my run (with Milo in tow, so it was more of a jog) my feet were feeling fine, my legs felt great but my lower back ache persisted. 

Fast forward… Aprés-jog I hit the gym. I stretched after my workout. I did all the things I normally do. The next day I intended to repeat my workout, bent over to pull on my Vibrams (it’s challenging) and POP went my lower spine. It was so painful that I rolled forward and hit the floor, bent in half and unable to straighten.

Skipping the details… I was lucky to be in overall good, flexible shape. Ignoring my friends’ suggestions to seek an MRI I did my homeopathic thing and within a few days I was able to bend. It took 10 days to recover my full mobility. I’d had no problems before and have had no problems since.

Alas, the actuality of evolution is that we walk on pavement in unfavorable fashion footwear and our bodies are evolving unfavorably in concordance. Vibram FiveFingers marketing message “It’s evolution for your feet” may appeal to my emotions but it doesn’t translate to my physicality.

Nice try Vibram, but you can’t disguise nostalgia as science.

The takeaway? Make sure your marketing message passes legal liability tests especially when making health claims to 70 million diverse body types.


Vibram is required to establish this website to accept consumer claims

More information on the lawsuit details can be found in these articles from Huffington Post and Runners World.

Paula Patrice Vibram FiveFingers Shoes with Milo