Opinion on Vibram Five Fingers Lawsuit

If you have not heard yet, Vibram USA Inc. has settled a class action lawsuit to pay back consumers who bought their FiveFingers footwear after March 2009 for claiming false health benefits.  The premise for the suit is that the shoemaker claimed wearing the shoes could strengthen foot muscles and serve as an injury prevention strategy.  Vibram USA did not have scientific evidence to directly support their claims.  The $3.75 million set aside for consumers to claim as a refund will be available in the near future.

Marketing is what companies do to attract consumers to buy a product, so would I expect anything less from Vibram? No. Is the $3.75million a big deal to them? I don’t know, but it was probably worth the cost of making the deceptive claims.

My question: At what point do consumers start to understand the quick fix for injury is a myth? If you honestly believed a wholesale change to running “barefoot” would prevent injury, I’m sorry…Go get your money.

The truth is, the marketing claims were not necessarily 100% wrong, but neither were they totally accurate.  Deceiving? Sure.  Vibram’s issue is making claims based upon anecdotal evidence and applying it a large group of people.  Wake up! They are not the only company or individual’s doing this.

I personally used FiveFingers during the winter of 2008 to run “barefoot” on frosted field turf as I recovered from an Achilles injury.  Did it help me?  Probably, but not in isolation. I consulted with a physical therapist and coach, chose proper nutrition, cross trained, progressively returned to running, and worked on my running technique and proprioception.  Did I buy another pair?  Yes, FiveFingers were really comfortable to wear on field turf when it was cold out.

Would I recommend FiveFingers to a client?  It depends.

Footwear is not a magic bullet.  Strengthening, injury prevention, and rehabilitation is rarely attributed to a product, new exercise, or stretching technique.  It is multifactorial, and it is depends on the individual.

Don’t be duped next time.

 

No, I will not be asking for a refund.

 

 

 

Femur on Acetabulum (hip) Anterior Glide: A risky mobilization

I recently came across this video, and I immediately felt compassion for the young man going along with the exercise.   Although the intentions are for the good of this young athlete, the potential harm far outweighs the benefit of this exercise when applied blindly.  The instructor may be excellent at applying this on an individual basis, but I must politely disagree on this one being “mass marketed.”

This mobilization has a high potential to cause structural damage to the labrum and lengthen the anterior hip capsule that may or may not need more length/compliance.  Prior to performing a mobilization of this nature, a client MUST BE ASSESSED by a qualified and licensed professional.  I would estimate that <1% of patients/clients seen in our clinic would benefit from this mobilization.

Blindly applying a forceful anterior glide to the hip without assessment on a routine basis will more likely create INSTABILITY than do anything to “warm up” for exercises that that require a posterior glide of the hip.

Proper function of the anterior capsule should limit or “check” hip hyper-extension.  Kelly may not literally mean “tearing,” at least I hope not, but you should never feel “tearing” while performing a stretch.

If the goal is to “stretch” or inhibit the TFL, far less force is required.

If you are a healthcare professional you may want to read the following clinical practice guidelines.

 

1.  Lewis
 CL
 & 
Sahrmann
SA. 
Acetabular 
labral
 tears.
 Phys
Ther.
 2006;
86:110‐121.

2.  Lewis 
CL, 
Sahrmann
 SA,
Moran
 DW.

 Effect
 of
 hip 
angle 
on
 anterior 
hip 
joint
 force 
during
 gait.

 Gait
and
Posture.
 2010;
32:603‐607.

3.  Enseki K, Harris-Hayes M, White DM, et al.  Nonarthritic hip joint pain: Clinical practice guidelines linked to the international classification of functioning, disability and health from the orthopedic section of the American Physical Therapy Association. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2014;44(6):A1-A32.