Vibram was recently sued in a class action law suit arguing Vibrams made false health claims to peddle bad shoes. Notwithstanding, I love my Vibram toe shoes. I'm on my second pair, and I enjoy them tremendously.
I read on Runners World that the FiveFinger shoes lead to greater risk of foot bone injury. That makes sense to me. The analogy I would make is, if a man who spent his days locked up in a padded room went outside, he would also be prone to greater risk of foot bone injury, or any injury for that matter! If someone made a health claim that leaving a padded cell and going outside would help with fitness, it would not be false or challenged. There are risks to going outside, but some risks yield great rewards.
We're not talking about riding a motorcycle here. And let's be clear, I wouldn't recommend these shoes to a non-runner in his 70s; his muscles would likely be atrophied beyond repair.
Keep in mind our feet evolved from nature to carry us as we walk and run long before shoes ever existed. We invented shoes and wrapped our feet in cushions to make our feet more comfortable, which has led people to overwear shoes that bulk our feet, affecting the way we walk and run. The expression comfort kills rings partly true here, because the extra comfort deprives our feet and legs of beneficial stimulation.
Vibram FiveFinger toe shoes put a lot of positive stress on feet and leg muscles. At the time I started using them 2 years ago I was regularly jogging six miles (10 kilometers); when I switched to Vibrams I struggled with two miles at low intensity. After the first month of wearing them though, my feet and legs felt like they had woken up.
When you wear Vibram FiveFinger shoes, you feel more immersed in your environment. You adjust your steps to react to subtleties in the terrain. Your muscles grow stronger in your feet and in your legs. After a couple of months I felt more spring in my step. The arch of my foot strengthened, my achilles tendon strengthened, and I found new control over my toes. Also, a whole new portion of my calve muscle developed–which I didn't even know existed.
I would say it's important not to push yourself too hard if you are working out new, weak muscles. If you over exert yourself, you might get hurt. If you are used to running with bulky shoes, make sure you adjust your jogging style to account for the minimalist footware. For example, you are not supposed to land on the heel of your foot! Listen to your body and take enough rest.
I love my [easyazon_link cloaking="default" keywords="vibram fivefingers" localization="default" locale="US" nofollow="default" new_window="default" tag="polyglamorous-20"]Vibrams[/easyazon_link] because they are perfect for a #jungler and make me feel a little more like a supple leopard. ;)