Vibram Five Finger toe shoes - 1 year and this is my opinion
Five Finger toe shoes
My experience with the Vibram Five Finger toe shoes
Now I'm not the end all authority on running or fitness but what I do have is around 1 year's worth of time with the Vibram Five finger toe shoes.
Different people have different opinions. There are studies that greatly praise the benefit of bare foot running/exercise and then there are some that say it is dangerous. What should you believe?
This is where you should do plenty of research. Mine is just a single opinion. And here goes!
Just a note: Before I start I want to say this is my experience and I am not a doctor or foot specialist of any kind. People have different feet and what may be good for one person may not be good for another person. If you have feet problems or any concerns at all than go talk to a doctor to see what you can and/or should do. If you do decide to use these Five Finger toe shoes and you notice problems other than sore muscles then it is in your best interest to discontinue use and talk to a doctor.
What are Vibram Five Fingers/ toe shoes?
They are a sort of 'foot glove'. The idea is that the foot is naturally designed to handle movement on it's own. The combination of over 20+ bones and many muscles make it an efficient machine for transportation. We've coddled our feet with padding and enhanced shoes which, as studies claim, only results in a weaker foot because there is no strain from use to strengthen the muscles. So these toe shoes create a protected shell that hugs the contour of the foot so that you are still using the natural foot design but with better protection and traction.
They don't come in normal US sizes
They are set based on Euro sizing. That will make it hard to order them online if you don't know the conversion. Any store that sells them can easily measure you to size so that is the better way to go if you want to buy them.
My time with the Five Finger toe shoes
I have the Vibram KSO model. I have had them for around 1 year so far. The first thing people notice is how weird they look. I've had a lot of people tell me their opinion of them and there is no middle ground; either they love them or hate them. I say reserve your opinion until you try them on. After a few times wearing them I got used to them and I must say that to me they are very comfortable.
After a year of on and off use the tread on the bottom, and the overall construction, has held up very well. There are no tears or worn spots.
One would think that with so little tread or cushion it would hurt your feet and legs. I can say that for me I have felt no pain in my feet whatsoever and the only hurting in my legs were from my muscles being sore.
I have run before and sure I get winded and my thighs get a little sore but not much else happened. After a few times running with my Five Fingers my calves were killing me. I have never, after running, felt my calves being sore. That right there suggested to me that something was different in how barefoot running works on your legs as opposed to shoes.
I have also noticed a change in my stride. Over time my stride moved from a heel - toe strike to a more midfoot-toe and then heel strike. This change is, from what I've read, the contributing factor in how my leg muscles were used differently and thus my calves started to feel the burn more. The stride change is also what people say affects how impact shock is sent up your leg bones. Removing the significant impact from the heel also significantly lessens shock to the bones and thus lesses the chance of bone fractures or other issues.
As for if they help build endurance and distance in running I cannot say. I believe if you do anything long enough you'll see benefits and I don't think it can be directly attributed to a shoe.
Some concerns people may have:
- Does it hurt running on a hard surface? Ive run on cement and concrete before and I personally do not have a problem with it. However it may be uncomfortable for others. It's something you may be able to get used to but that is up to you.
- How durable are they? I've had my Vibram's for a year and have noticed some wear on the tread but overall it still looks great. The rest of the shoe is holding up really well also.
- How are they on different terrain? They work very well on almost any surface. They do not have the same traction as cleats when it comes to grass but they still work well. On dirt or hiking trails they are amazing. The flexibility of the shoe plus the ability to bend your feet and toes makes it so you're hugging the ground with your feet instead of just standing on it. It's a great feeling, at least for me. The one thing they do not work well with, at least not the KSO model I have, is sand on the beach, especially in the water. Sand and debris will get inside the shoe and it makes for a very uncomfortable time. Plus the salty water mixed with your feet and the rubber will make the Vibram's stink! This can be washed out though.