Vibram Commissions Harvard Researcher to Study Barefoot Running

In an effort to assess the advantages, and challenges of running in FiveFingers, Vibram®, is sponsoring a study to be conducted by Daniel Lieberman, a widely recognized expert in human evolution and distance running.
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In an effort to assess the advantages, and challenges of running in FiveFingers, Vibram®, is sponsoring a study to be conducted by Daniel Lieberman, a widely recognized expert in human evolution and distance 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, and Chair of the Biological Anthropology wing in the Anthropology department at Harvard University. The research is scheduled to commence in September and conclude in the summer of 2009.

“Since the introduction of Vibram FiveFingers a little more than two years ago, we have received an overwhelming response from customers who are enjoying health and performance benefits from running in this product,” explains Tony Post, President and CEO of Vibram USA. “The next obvious step is to take a scientific approach to this anecdotal evidence to enhance future product development plans and to fully understand what it means to run in our footwear.”

Recently named one of the “Best Inventions of 2007,” by TIME Magazine, FiveFingers was originally developed as a “barefoot alternative” for water sports, climbing, bouldering and light trekking, but the footwear quickly gained popularity among runners and fitness enthusiasts. The first and only footwear to offer the exhilarating freedom of going barefoot with the protection and surefooted grip of a thin, flexible Vibram sole, FiveFingers adds a unique sense of feel to any activity, putting the user more in touch with their own body and their surrounding environment.

Running in FiveFingers allows runners to build up under-used foot and lower leg muscles which may help to reduce impact caused by repeated heel strike. Many customers also report an improved sense of balance, greater agility and improved foot strength, which may lead to fewer injuries. Runners have also commented that the natural sensory feedback uniquely delivered in FiveFingers allows them to improve running form and make immediate corrections if they start to run improperly.

A professor of biological anthropology at Harvard University, Daniel Lieberman studies how and why key human features grow, develop and function. Specifically, he has studied long distance endurance running and how it has played a key role in the evolution of man. The research will be comprised of a series of experiments, including: a study of running shoe shod runners training in FiveFingers; an observation of FiveFinger wearers training in the glove-styled footwear; and use of a force plate treadmill to measure impact throughout the body.

“The few studies published on barefoot running have all asked normally-shod runners to remove their shoes and run – there is no data on how habitual barefoot runners run, ”explains Lieberman. “We plan to compare runners in FiveFingers with both shod and habitual barefoot runners for a more complete understanding of the possible advantages and disadvantages of barefoot or, more specifically, FiveFingers training.”

For Vibram, this research is crucial to future product development and product communication, Lieberman is genuinely interested in the implications for improving public health:

“If humans have always been built for and good at running why are there so many injuries today?” Lieberman queries. “Our goal is to shed light on how the body works with and without shoes and to offer advice on injury prevention.”

Vibram® is recognized worldwide as the leader in high performance soles for outdoor, recreational, work and fashion footwear and is relied on by the world' s greatest outdoor athletes. Vibram® soles have set the standard since Vitale Bramani created mountaineering's first rubber lugged sole in the late 1930's. Vibram® soles have gone on to conquer Mt. Everest, K2 and a host of the world's tallest peaks. Today, the company works with premium brands including Danner, La Sportiva, Lowa, Merrell, Red Wing, Scarpa, The North Face, Timberland, Vasque, Wolverine and many more. Vibram FiveFingers was named one of TIME Magazine's Best Inventions of 2007. For further information, visit www.vibram.com or www.vibramfivefingers.com.

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