But, it turns out these supposed health benefits might not be all that the evangelists make them out to be. Vibram, the leading manufacturer of barefoot running shoes, has settled a lawsuit claiming that the company misled consumers by stating, without any scientific proof, that its FiveFingers footwear decreased injuries and improved muscle strength.
While the agreement still has to be approved by a Massachussetts district court, the company has agreed to pay $3.75 million in refunds — as much as $94 per pair — to anyone who purchased FiveFingers since 2009. For its part, Vibram says it "expressly denied and continues to deny any wrongdoing, and neither admits nor concedes any actual or potential fault, wrongdoing or liability."
As the Washington Post points out, this isn't the first time a manufacturer has had to make a big payout over false claims; Skechers had to pay $40 million in refunds for its "toning" Shape-ups in 2009. But, making unsubstantiated claims about a product marketed toward athletes — who are prone to injury by nature of their lifestyle — seems quite a bit more irresponsible than asserting that a pair of shoes will help lift your butt. In the world of fitness, clearly, you can't believe everything you hear. (Runner's World)