You’ve probably seen them and done a double take, five toe shoes, like those made by Vibram (vee-bram), www.vibramfivefingers.com, are popping up everywhere. We talked with Vibram, the creator of these shoes, at the IDEA conference to learn a bit about their shoe, and why they’re so great.
Vibram has been around and producing innovative performance products for more than 75 years; the founder, Vitale Bramani, developed the first rubber soled shoe. The FiveFinger shoe, introduced in 2006, takes rubber soles to a whole new level, an innovation allowing the foot to work and move as it naturally should.
Why should I try a 5 toe shoe? Here’s what Vibram says:
1) They strengthen muscles in the feet and lower legs- training barefoot or wearing FiveFingers will stimulate and strengthen muscles in the feet and lower legs, improving general foot health and reducing the risk of injury.
2) Improved range of motion in ankles, feet and toes. No longer ‘cast’ in a shoe, the foot and toes move more naturally.
3) Stimulates neural function important to balance and agility. When barefoot and wearing FiveFingers, thousands of neurological receptors in the feet send valuable information to the brain, improving balance and agility.
4) Eliminates heel lift to align the spine and improve posture. By lowering the heel, your bodyweight becomes evenly distributed across the footbed, promoting proper posture and spinal alignment.
5) Allows the foot and body to move naturally. Which just feels good.
What uses are they good for? Everything. Hands down. Sprinting, mud running, water sports, climbing, yoga, sailing, you name it, you can wear them. Vibram has different styles for different uses. I can already tell that these would be great for triathloning, particularly Eppie’s for the Run/Kayak legs.
How do I get properly sized for the shoe? They are not your conventional American shoe sizes. If you want to order them online, first find out your size, then shop. Vibram has a fit guide online. We asked how to fit wide feet, and Vibram suggested any of their laced products, like the Bikila LS.
How do they wear? How long should they last? Vibram soles have been around for over 75 years; they’re on Louis Vuiotton shoes and almost every high end shoe out there. They wear like any other shoe and should last just as long as your sneaker.
How breathable are they? These shoes are like any other as far as breathability. A far larger benefit is that these shoes are completely machine washable. When they get dirty, just throw them in the wash and they are good as new. You can also buy five toe socks made by Injinji to wear with your Vibram’s.
How should you transition to this type of footwear? Your body is highly adaptable and will learn to function in the shoe quickly, but the movement in the shoe is different than you may be accustomed to, and can cause muscle soreness at first. Your feet and calves are going to feel it. When asked how I, as a sprinter, should transition in the shoe, the Vibram rep said that at first, I should only do 1/10th of my workout in the shoe the first week, then work my way to the full workout and then, full time use. Vibram’s brochures say, don’t get discouraged, but it may take as long as one year to comfortably make a clean break from traditional sneakers to full time FiveFingers. Sole Training (www.willpowerfit.com), a training program designed to strengthen your feet and prepare them for FiveFingers, is available online. Vibram publishes great tips on transitions, (see these tips for the running) getting you familiar with and prepared for your new shoes.
What body adjustments can I expect? Your foot strike and stride will instinctively adjust to different surfaces. FiveFingers’ runners typically land on the ball of the foot towards the lateral side, then after the foot lands, the heel should land gradually. You’ll feel more connected to your environment and your balance will improve. A lot of people say that they feel “free” and are ready to explore!
How much do they cost? FiveFingers run about $100. But, there are other toe shoes out there that you can find. You can shop at Vibram or find a retailer, like REI, that carries them.
I plan on getting a pair of 5 toe shoes to test them out. If you buy a pair, let me know about’em, which brand/model, where you bought them, if you like them, what you use them for, and details about your transition. Happy feet!
|Travis Grosjean, a certified personal trainer at JRRC, is a NASM CPT, a TRX Suspension Trainer, former collegiate track athlete and creator of Workout Evolution clinics- 1 hour jam packed, educational workshop/clinics, where you learn new exercises and equipment to enhance your workout and improve your health. Your workout, Your way.|
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