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Vibram FiveFingers

by ViTo β€’ September 3, 2009 1 comment

About a couple of months ago, the following article about pricy shoes and barefoot running hit the frontpage of Digg; that’s how I first heard about Vibram and their new shoes. Since I usually run about 7 miles a few times a week and often feel the pain in ankles and knees I found the whole barefoot concept very interesting. Although I was not fully convinced about the whole expensive shoe bashing. After all, everybody uses them!

However, from that moment on, in a brief period of time I stumbled upon many articles about minimalist running shoes. Here are just a few: the 4 hour week, Mail Online, CrunchGear, Wired, the Daily Show, and even TIME magazine named these shoes one of the best inventions of 2007.

Here’s a short interview that took place last August 18th on the Daily Show. They talk abut people from a Mexican tribe who run hundreds of miles barefoot and despite such achievement, they do it without injuries:

Such a buzz certainly caught my attention and made me think. The truth is that, as a kid, I used to walk barefoot all the time, and loved it; but that was a long time ago… so I’d rather hear from Vibram owners. Fortunately, these shoes are available at Amazon, where a few buyers commented on them (all of them positive).

I noticed most owners are initially reticent (like me); running injuries, pain or just curiosity leads them to buy into this new barefoot trend; after an initial adaptation period, they simply love their Vibrams. I was so intrigued that I decided to join the FiveFingers club; After a quick visit to the official website (http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/), I learnt they were available in the Sports Chalet from Huntington Beach. After all, there’s no way I am buying something like this without physically testing them first. A couple of hours later, there I was, with my brand new “shoes”…

Hobbit shoes Vibram FiveFingers Sprint

So here’s my take on them… I’ll admit at the beginning they feel kind of funny, and most of the time, you can definitely see people staring at them. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, since they are certainly noticeable; but who cares!?
The attention is granted, but reactions are diverse; some people simply find them horrible (my roommate started laughing when he saw them for the first time), while some others think they are cool and inquire about their name or where I got them. “Are they some kind of water shoes?“, “Are they for climbing?“, “They look comfortable, are they?“. Even my girlfriend hates them; although with a little bit of luck, I might be able to convert her πŸ™‚ .

Somewhere online a guy was comparing them to the feeling of wearing gloves instead of mittens; it sounded funny but now I actually think it’s a pretty accurate comparison. When you walk, you can actually feel the ground, which turns out to be a nice feeling. Try to think of it as when you walk barefoot in the beach; isn’t it pleasant to feel the sand on your soles? Obviously, asphalt or concrete is not the same thing, but you get the idea.

As soon as you put them on and try to walk, you’ll realize you cannot land with the heel first (as we are used to do), so you try to use the balls of your feet; kind of like walking on the tips of your toes. It feels a little bit unnatural at first since you tend to overdo it. However, after a bit of practice, the feet will land almost flat on the ground; it just happens that the front does it a fraction of a second earlier.

I read some people were concerned about them smelling. The truth is they are quite open so your feet don’t feel that hot. I already washed mine a couple of times, but it was not due to the smell (and I live in hot Southern California); I just wanted them to recover that bright shiny red color πŸ™‚
Probably, a cold weather would be a bigger inconvenience for this type of open shoes; I guess that’s why Vibram created the KSO and other models which cover the whole foot and offer more protection.

I’d like to emphasize there is an adaptation period (which is clearly stated in the box). Don’t expect your feet and leg to be comfortable with them right away. If you haven’t used your feet muscles properly in a long time, don’t expect them to strengthen overnight. At first, your calves and feet arches will feel sore for a few days, but a couple of weeks later the transition should be complete; that is why, the more you wear them, the more comfortable they feel. At this point, I own them for over a month and I use them as often as I can. I tried running with them but I haven’t gone over 2 miles yet. Even running with regular shoes, I can feel my stride is different than it used to be. I ran over different surface types and so far I only had a problem with loose gravel on top of a hard surface such as concrete. Although I still don’t know whether my feet should get tougher or it’s simply not the appropriate surface.

My main concerns are regarding their durability. Not that I encountered any problems so far, but being made just of a thin rubber sole and some elastic cloth on top, they might give up on me sooner than I’d like. Another worry I have, is the lack of protection for the feet; I wear them regularly to the gym and I could see how some unfortunate accident could be fatal for my toes.

The bottom line is I’m really happy with them; so I guess I’m just like most other Vibram owners I had previously read about πŸ™‚ . If you have doubts, I’d definitely encourage you to give them a try.

Isn’t it ironic how much we are moving forward only to realize some things we just did better in the past…?



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  1. ι€šθ²© スニーカー

    Greetings! Very useful advice within this article! It is the little changes that will make the greatest changes.

    Thanks a lot for sharing!