It looks like that barefoot-running trend is well over. Vibram, maker of those toe-sock-like Five Finger shoes that promised fewer foot injuries and stronger foot muscles, said this week that it would refund users of its shoes as part of a class-action lawsuit.
The lawsuit charged that Vibram sold the Five Fingers by advertising these health claims that had no scientific merit. As part of the settlement, in which Vibram admits no wrongdoing, Vibram will deposit $3.75 million in an account that will be used to refund money to people who bought Vibram Five Fingers between March 21, 2009, and the date of the first dissemination of summary settlement notice or class notice, whichever is earlier. You can submit a claim for up to two pairs without proof of purchase; you may, however, have to provide proof if the company feels it necessary. Each pair can get you up to $94, although the agreement notes that class members can expect between $20 and $50 per pair based on similar settlements. Any unclaimed funds in the account will be donated to the American Heart Association to research the health benefits of running. The claims website isn't up yet, but keep checking Vibram's Facebook for news.
Vibrams, as well as the popular barefoot-running book Born to Run, sparked a minimalist movement that spilled over to regular sneakers; companies stripped out cushioning, shaved off ounces, and flattened heel drops in order to help runners strengthen stability muscles and improve running form. Studies showed, however, that barefoot running can lead to injuries if you don't ease into it correctly, and over the past couple of years, big shoe companies have gone back to cushioning.
Did you ever try barefoot running, and are you still a fan?