American Council on Exercise Evaluates Benefits of Vibram FiveFingers® Shoes for Barefoot Runners

Study finds popular barefoot running shoes effective when paired with correct running style

SAN DIEGO, Sept. 28, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Council on Exercise (ACE), America's leading authority on fitness and the world's largest nonprofit fitness certification, education and training organization, today announced the results of an independently conducted, academic study on Vibram FiveFingers, a sock-style shoe designed to simulate the effect of running barefoot while still protecting the foot. The study found that while the shoes may be beneficial for those who suffer from chronic running injuries, using Vibrams and barefoot-style shoes for running can pose additional risks if runners do not adopt the correct foot-to-ground strike style.

ACE commissioned the study to determine what happens when runners switch from their traditional running shoes to wearing minimalist running shoes like Vibram FiveFingers. Advocates of barefoot running suggest that traditional running shoes may increase a runner's risk of injury, as the shoes encourage the foot to use a heel-strike pattern, which causes more pounding and stress. Conversely, barefoot runners tend to run more lightly, landing near the balls of the feet and generating less pounding and potentially less risk of injury. Vibram suggests its product helps users simulate the feeling of being barefoot and achieve a forefoot strike run pattern while providing the abrasion protection of wearing a shoe.

"We've seen an increasing number of individuals using barefoot-style running shoes, and felt it critical to examine this trend," said American Council on Exercise's Chief Science Officer, Cedric X. Bryant, Ph.D. "The bottom line is that runners must first and foremost modify their running style for ultimate safety and benefit, and this should be done gradually through regular practice. Once that is achieved, Vibram FiveFingers can be a safe and effective shoe for those who want to experience the feel of barefoot running."

Conducted by the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, Exercise and Health Program, and led by John Porcari, Ph.D., and Caitlin McCarthy, M.S., the study evaluated 16 healthy, injury-free female subjects, ages 19 to 25, all of whom were considered recreational joggers. Prior to the beginning of the study, each subject was fitted with a pair of Vibram FiveFingers Bikila, which are specially designed for running. For two weeks prior to the test, the subjects wore the shoes while running three times a week, for 20 minutes per day, to become accustomed with the new shoe style.

After the two-week acclimation period, participants returned to the lab for 3-D motion analysis and measurement of ground-reaction forces as they ran under three different conditions. Subjects were measured as they ran on a 20-meter runway while wearing Vibrams, while wearing a pair of neutral running shoes and while running barefoot. Each participant completed seven trials per condition; the order was randomized between the Vibrams and the running shoes, but the barefoot condition was always measured last.

Following the tests, researchers noted that all of the subjects were rear-foot strikers when wearing the neutral running shoes, but half of the group switched to a forefoot strike pattern when wearing Vibrams or while running barefoot. The other half of the group maintained the same rear-foot strike pattern throughout all of the conditions.

Those who adopted the forefoot-strike style showed greater plantar flexion, which appears to allow better absorption of the impact forces of running. The members of the group that continued to use a rear-strike style when wearing Vibrams or running barefoot experienced a higher rate of loading, and measured higher load rates than when wearing the typical running shoes. Researchers noted that all participants experienced reduced knee flexion, which is typically associated with lower injury rates, when wearing Vibrams and running barefoot. It was also observed, however, that Vibram wearers showed greater pronation, similar to that when running in regular shoes, which may increase the risk of some overuse injuries of the lower extremity.

A complete study summary can be found in the latest issue of ACE Certified News, located at

About ACE

The American Council on Exercise (ACE), America's premier fitness education, certification and training organization, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the benefits of physical activity and protecting Americans against unsafe and ineffective fitness products and instruction. ACE sponsors university-based exercise science research and is the world's largest nonprofit fitness certifying organization. For more information on ACE and its programs, call (800) 825-3636 or log onto the ACE website at


Vibram Commissions Harvard Researcher to Study Barefoot Running

In an effort to assess the advantages, and challenges of running in FiveFingers, Vibram®, the worldwide leader in high performance soles is sponsoring a comprehensive study to be conducted by Daniel Lieberman, a widely recognized expert in human evolution and distance running, more

Vibram's Biomechanics Advisory Board to Study Barefoot Training

Vibram®, the designer of the unique glove-styled shoe, FiveFingers, announced the foundation of the Vibram Biomechanics Advisory Board to offer research on and analysis of foot and gait biomechanics in sports, the Board will also be an invaluable asset for new product planning more

Vibram to Refine its FiveFingers Collection for S'2017

July 27, 2016 (CONCORD, Mass.) –Vibram®, the worldwide leader in high-performance soles and the creator of the Vibram FiveFingers® articulated toe shoe, today unveiled its spring 2017 line-up of new-and-improved FiveFingers. Vibram will also introduce new Furoshiki colorways and more

Barefooters and Life Time Run Feel Great Together

TORONTO - Barefooters, the innovative Euro-styled slip on shoes that literally Feel Great™ to wear, have joined with Life Time - the Healthy Way of Life Company, as the official recovery shoe of Life Time Run, a leading national running organization. As part of their more

Merrell and Vibram Exclusively Collaborate in Merrell Barefoot

Merrell®, a leading outdoor footwear and apparel brand known for out-of-the-box comfort and versatility, and Vibram®, the world leader in advanced performance sole design and makers of the well known Five Fingers® barefoot concept, exclusively collaborate to create an outsole more

Vibram FiveFingers Named FWA Site of the Day

FWA (Favorite Website Awards), the most visited website award program awarded Vibram FiveFingers' YouAreTheTechnology microsite with the coveted Site of the Day award. The site illustrates the “naked truth” about running, by underscoring the power and “natural technology” more


Health Notes: Barefoot vs. shod running, tough day drains exercise willpower

You want information about health, physical activity, exercise and wellness, but you don’t want all the techno-science garble that makes most reports overwhelming to read, let alone understand or pass on to customers. In SNEWS® Health Notes, an occasional series, we take a look more

Vibram FiveFingers Named A "Best Invention of 2007" By TIME Magazine

Vibram® FiveFingers®, a unique glove-styled shoe, was named one of the “Best Inventions of 2007” according to TIME magazine. All of the products named to TIME's list “represent the coolest stuff from the most innovative minds in the world,” writes TIME managing editor more

Vibram Promotes Vibram FiveFingers Sales VP to GM

In an effort to address the spectacular growth of the minimalist footwear industry, Vibram today announced its promotion of Michael Martin (shown) to General Manager of Vibram FiveFingers and Finished Goods – North America. Martin previously served as Vice President. In more