Yes, you read it correctly, Vibram Five Fingers (VFF) shoes are currently embroiled in a lawsuit as they are alleged to have made "deceptive and misleading statements about the benefits of barefoot running".
You've read it here before, we've posted on runners who still land on their heels despite running in their VFF.
As part of the lawsuit, there was even a research paper cited, where the American Council of Exercise (ACE) found that many people who made the switch to wear VFF's continue to land on their heels. The researchers found that runners wearing the VFF had twice the loading rate compared to runners using "normal shoes" if they landed on their heels.
You would already know that 2 times loading rate is still fairly low, especially so if you have come to the running workshop. This is actually considerably less than another study done by prominent barefoot running researcher Daniel Lieberman who found that barefoot runners who landed on their heels had impact forces 7 times higher than if you land on your heels in shoes.
As discussed in the workshop, barefoot running is a skill that needs to be mastered. The ACE study had their runners do a 2 week "familiarization" period in the VFF, where they ran 20 minutes a day to get used to it. However, 50 % of runners still landed on their heels after the 2 week familiarization period, while in Lieberman's study, 83% of his runners were still heel striking.
Hence, it doesn't matter what you shoes you wear, it's how good your running technique is and how you land that really matters. That means if you master the technique, you can run in literally any shoes you want.
It is then important for me to add that if you as a coach/ physiotherapist/ personal trainer etc are asking your athletes/ patients/ clients etc to run barefoot, you need to teach them the right way to do it and you need to make sure you will make them good enough to avoid them getting hurt. If not, you've caused them to be injured despite your good intentions.
Please contact us if you want to learn how to run pain free.
Lieberman DE, Venkadesan M et al. (2010). Foot Strike Patterns & Collision Forces in Habitually Barefoot Versus Shod Runners. Nature. Jan 463(7280): 531-535.
Read the ACE article (and the link to the paper) here.
*Picture from Flickr.com