I’ve been wearing Vibram Five Finger Shoes now for about 3 years. My friend Guy Shultz who’s an early adopter was the first person I know to have a pair. What really motivated me to try them though was the book Born To Run by Christopher McDougall. What has motivated me to continue to wear them is that they are tremendously comfortable – to me.
I get tons of funny looks, and questions about them so I decided to make this post to answer eleven of the most common questions I get. Ok – here goes.
- Are Those Things Comfortable? Yes – to me. In fact I’m what you might call a shoe fanatic. I’ve got more shoes than my wife and daughter combined. And I buy good shoes that cost on average $300 a pair. I don’t have a single pair that I prefer, when it comes to comfort, than my Vibrams. If you’re comfortable being barefoot, then you’ll find the Five Fingers comfortable.
- I’ve Got Flat Feet. Will They Provide Support? So do I. In fact I can’t remember a time that I did not have to wear arch supports in my shoes. Here’s how I understand what I learned in McDougall’s book. Your feet are designed to support your body – by wearing shoes you essentially are putting a cast on your feet – if you put a cast on your arm you know the muscles will atrophy – a shoe acts like a cast and therefore the same thing happens to the muscles in the foot. I have not had to wear arch supports since I started going barefoot as often as I can.
- Don’t Your Feet Hurt When You Run? No. Actually, before purchasing my Five Fingers I actually took to running completely bare foot. The first day I could only do a quarter mile because I felt like the muscles in my calf and near my ankles (I had never felt the muscles near my ankles before) were on fire. This was not injury related pain, it was the type of burn you get when you lift weights. This let me know that all of a sudden I was activating muscles that had been dormant. I rested two days and on the next run I did a half mile. I rested another two days and then ran 3 miles. I did have some minor soreness around the balls of my feet from the concrete pounding. For this reason I’d recommend a pair with some padding for running on hard surfaces
- How Else Do You Use Them? Last year I went hiking in my Five Fingers. My wife, and some friends hiked Stoney Man Mountain in Virgina. Believe me they named it the Stoney Man for a reason. I wear the Classic Vibram Five Fingers which have the least amount of padding. My feet were sore afterwards. If I were to do it again I would still use the Vibrams but a version with more padding. They have a version designed for hiking. I also wear mine with jeans, and athletic gear. I’m strongly considering purchasing a pair that I reserve for wearing for business casual…they are that comfortable.
- Why Do You Weight Train In Them? Long before I’d ever heard of Vibram Five Finger Shoes I’d started doing some of my lifting barefoot. I felt that I had better balance that way for lifts like squats.
Most people train in running or cross trainers. Those shoes don’t provide much stability for side to side movements and when you’ve got a heavy load on your back you need to be stable. Also running shoes are elevated in the rear…like healed shoes. If you’re squatting, dead lifting, or picking anything up from the floor you have to drive through your heals…running shoes and cross trainers force the load toward your toes.
- Are You Embarrassed To Wear Them? Not at all. In fact I find them a to be great conversation starters. Even if I’m not wearing mine when I notice someone else wearing them we’ve got something to talk about.
- What If I Step On Something? Running and walking barefoot has given me a wonderful appreciation for the foot. Fact…you will step on things. Fact…your feet were designed to handle that. The only way I can describe what happens when I step on something is that it’s as if my feet know before my brain does. My whole body contorts, and shifts to remove pressure off of that tiny space under my foot. It’s amazing. In fact if you run in a running shoe you’re much more likely to impale your foot than if you run bare foot. The reason is that when you run in a running shoe you’re airborne and propeled forward. If you land on something sharp enough to go through your shoe you have no chance of avoiding it. If you’re brave enough to try you’ll find that you running barefoot forces you to be more upright, and land the balls of your foot instead of your heals…you’re not in a forward lean. This is the proper bio-mechanics for running.
- I Don’t Like The Toe Thing. Can I Get The Advantages In Some Other Shoe? Yes. In fact almost all the athletic shoe manufactures now have some version of the Vibram (without the toes). The general term is called a minimalist shoe. They are designed to allow your foot to function as it was designed to. I also have the New Balance Minimus. I found it much less comfortable than the Vibrams and I can’t wear them all day. Nike offers the Nike Free.
- Are They Difficult To Put On? No, not once you get used to them.
- Do They Keep Your Feet Warm? No. If I’m going to be outside for a while I wear a warm winter shoe. Although I’ve been told that you can buy toe socks.
- What Size Do I Buy? Vibrams use the European sizing scale. You can find help with figuring out your size on their website, or from the clerk where you purchase them.
One of the best marketing strategies is to simply make a product that works and allow the idea to spread. I love my Vibram Five Fingers and want to thank the folks who made them.
If you decide to try them holla at me and let me know what you think.