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Study: Vibram FiveFingers Lead to Greater Risk of Foot Bone Injury

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I find this study interesting. I don't see anything inherently wrong with the study, however, the guy with the bone injury in his heel had to be heel striking, which makes me wonder how many of the people in the study were also heel striking. While some might consider that an issue with the study, many people who try the shoes out probably aren't going to know to change their running style, so it is a valid concern. It would be interesting, though, to see what the results looked like if the participants were taught to run with a forefoot strike.

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I may be in a minority group because I knew things about barefoot/minimalist running before I started running in mine, but I can say with certainty if I land too much on my heel in them it hurts and I don't do that anymore. I'm confused as to how one managed to run themselves into a heel fracture that way. That said, and before having read the study in question, I'd be willing to guess that strike pattern and gait are factors they don't consider.

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It sounds like their intention of the study was to have the runners follow Vibram's instructions for starting running in their shoes. I guess the point is that runners who switch over to the shoes and don't run properly or don't ease into it enough are going to get injured. However, this study wasn't mean to (and doesn't) take into account people who learn to forefoot strike and progress very slowly with their running.

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I have a friend who also received a stress fracture running in the 5 Fingers; but admittedly, he did not follow any kind of transition period and simply bought them and went for a 4-5 mile run on the first day. The take home point seems to be to go slow and work your way up. I think it's interesting that the article only talks about bone edema when defining whether the runner was "injured" or not, and doesn't mention whether the runners were actually complaining of injury or pain. Maybe the full length article has more information...

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Of course they do. 


The less padding under your feet, the more energy that your body has to dissipate.  This is not a matter of form, it is basic physics.  Your body is designed to handle this, but with higher forces come greater injuries.


There is a tradeoff to more or less sole and forefoot or heel striking.  All have drabacks and positives.


In exchange for not having weak feet/arches, high forces in the shins, and high forces in the knees (the drawbacks of highly padded heel striking) you get high forces in the feet and increased achilles strain.

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The question about form comes from the fact that, if you are running correctly, you shouldn't be applying enough force to your heel to cause a stress fracture. I don't doubt the increased risk of bone injury from running in Vibrams, but I am wondering if those numbers might be higher due to many of the runners not using proper form while running, e.g. maybe 3-4 out of the 19 would have increased edema instead of 10 of the 19. I doubt they kept track of the running form, though, so that's all just speculation.

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