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Vibram’s FiveFingers September 23, 2009

Posted by Richard Lowe in Thoughts & Musings.
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There’s been much ballyhoo over the “barefoot” shoes from Vibram called the FiveFingers (sic). They’re supposed to be the solution to back aches and joint pain, while improving your agility, balance, and anything else related to being on your feet. For runners, they’re supposed to allow you to run farther, longer, and with less post-workout pain. One thing that’s not advertised is the added bonus of making you standout from the crowd because you have on weird shoes that emphasize your toes.*

But is there some truth to their claims? After reading this review from CrunchGear (thanks Thomas W.), I was immediately intrigued. The author, John Biggs, suffered from plantar fasciitis after running a marathon and found that he could no longer run. Even as a doctor, he couldn’t figure out any other way to continue his training—in regular shoes, that is.

Then, Biggs ordered a pair of the FiveFingers and went running. Here’s what happened:

My knees were screaming. My ankles hurt. Then, a few minutes later, all the pain was gone. I was running normally and, thanks to the light weight and comfort I could run longer than I ever could. I could run without stopping, which was a big change for me. I could run for quite a while. The only limitations were the blisters I got during the first few runs. Even those went away.

What are these, Jesus Shoes? Can they really cure the typical running ailments? Are we really meant to run barefoot, or barefoot simulated? I had to give these a try.

My local Adventure 16 had some in stock. Fellow runner Karen N. decided to come with me and see what this whole craze was really all about.

When I tried a pair on—without socks—, the first thing that struck me is how lightweight the shoes are. They feel even lighter than my Rainbow sandals.

vibram

At first, I had difficulty getting my toes in their respective slots. It was weird having to adjust each toe appropriately, but once they were in, it was surprisingly comfortable. I fastened the strap and walked around the store, even taking a slight jog.

And, like Biggs professed, they feel great. It certainly takes some getting used to and it does feel like you’re barefoot, with just a sliver of protection on the bottom of your soles but jogging in them felt totally natural. I found myself landing and pushing off on the balls of my feet more organically. The only thing that bothers me about these shoes is durability and foot protection. Because the shoe is so light and the toes are individuated, I feel like I’d be more prone to stubbing them or possibly hyper-extending one of them. Other than that, however, the FiveFingers seem like a great shoe.

vibram

I don’t know if I’ll run the marathon in these shoes, but I’m definitely considering getting a pair. The Adventure 16 sales rep said that they are by far the best selling shoe they carry and that Vibram themselves are actually backlogged. I’d love to try a pair for shorter runs and see what would happen on longer runs. But before I do, I think I’ll ask my pace leader at the LA Roadrunners this week.

Runner’s World has an article about the FiveFingers here.

The NY Times writes about them here.


*They’re definitely the creepiest shoe since these came out from Comme des Garcons. And at least they’re not Crocs.

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Comments»

1. Chelsee Lowe - October 4, 2009

THose look so silly!


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