Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Your Vibrams Don't Work, Now You Can Get a Refund

Vibram has settled a class-action suit and will now put money in a trust for people who want a refund. They will also stop making claims that their shoes are good for you.

There's a very non-zero chance that if you've run across this, you're a barefoot/minimalist type, so I'm writing this for you, knowing full well you'll be pissed off about this. Of course legal outcomes are not stone-cold scientific evidence, but they should at least inch your dial toward "B.S." and away from "true". (If you think that's an outrageous thing to say: what would you have said had the outcome here been the opposite? "Good, the legal system works"?) But there's just nothing like the evidence in favor of running barefoot that I've heard and read minimalist runners claim.

There IS evidence that Vibrams imitate the form running barefoot pretty well. But, unless that's better for you, who cares? Because there is NOT (much) evidence that running barefoot is any better for you. (Despite the many otherwise evidence-minded types in the tech and rationalist communities who were carried along by this trend, couched as it was in sciencey-sounding claims; that's the most interesting part of this.) I suspect most of our opinions on this, outside of the professional sports science and medicine communities and their respective peer-reviewed journals, are based on our own N=1 experiments. (I'm waiting for the first claims of conspiracy against science from minimalists. Don't be the first one!) Barefoot running is awkward and unpleasant for me personally. If it works for other people, great - although I've been told repeatedly by fanatics that barefoot running is clearly better for everyone, and based on my own N=1, I can disprove that. If it's not clear to you how a single case can be much more disconfirmatory to a theory than it can support a theory, your issue is with science in general, not just footwear.


Jen Lee said...

It just really seems like a lady who found a opening in their advertising campaign for a lawsuit and she won.... Nuf said.

I still love the shoes and plan on buying them still because, for me. It really has improved my overall fitness. I used to hate ... Hate jogging.

I'd get horrible muscle cramps while running and shin splints not to shortly afterwards. The shoes did show me how I was running incorrectly all along and I enjoy their exceptional quality and craftsmanship in the shoe also as a pair will last me a whole year.

Still am a fan! While I don't try to take much salt from any company's advertising claims. I just try to do what's best for me and these shoes did a great job for me that no other shoe has.

I do plan on buying or getting another pair of shoes different than five toes because i was told it's not good to always do a lot of running in the same type of shoes and to switch on and off.

Love my vibrams!

Michael Caton said...

I have no doubt that for some (even a lot) of people, they had problems that resolved once they started using Vibrams - I'm glad you're one of those. And (bigger claim) for some of these people, the different mechanics of the shoe were what caused the resolution (rather than coincidences with self-resolving issues). The reason I posted this is that there are a lot of barefoot or minimalist "fundamentalists" (if you will) that I hope notice this story.