Make Of Popular Five Finger Shoes Is Sued Over Health Claims

Vibram USA Inc., the maker of the FiveFingers running shoes has been sued, accused of making misleading claims about health benefits. Designed to mimic the act of barefoot running, the minimalist running shoe has a shaped sole and a mesh top, with individual sleeves for each toe. The lawsuit says that, despite advertising claims by the company, that using FiveFingers may be risky for runners.

“Indeed, running in FiveFingers may increase injury risk as compared to running in conventional running shoes, and even when compared to running barefoot,’’ according to a copy of the suit.

This suit may sound familiar to readers; last year, Canton-based Reebok International Ltd. refunded $25 million to customers after the Federal Trade Commission found it made deceptive claims that its toning shoes improved muscle tone. A suit filed in January 2011 alleged that New Balance, of Boston, also overstated the benefits of its toning shoes.

Vibram, with corporate headquarters in Italy, is a 70-year-old company known for pioneering the use of rubber soles for footwear. It introduced its line of FiveFinger shoes in 2005.