Everyone has seen the shoes that kind of look like tennis shoes, but then kind of look like toe socks at the same time. What are these about and what’s the purpose behind them?
Vibram FiveFingers are designed for minimalism and barefoot running. I’ve done some research on these particular shoes to find out what benefits result from making the switch from a traditional tennis shoe to minimalist footwear. The majority of the information I found comes from the Vibram FiveFingers website. I had to pick and pull information in order to keep this post an appropriate length. However, if you’re interested in beginning minimalist running or a minimalist lifestyle, I highly recommend you dig deeper into the topic!
The following information has been pulled directly from the Vibram FiveFingers website:
Although the reasons listed above sound amazing for you and your feet, the most important thing to know and remember about minimalist footwear and barefoot running is that you MUST be patient. Take your time when making the transition from you traditional shoe to Vibram FiveFingers and get all of your questions answered to ensure your safety.
Avoiding the appropriate steps that should be taken when making the transition can result in serious injuries. Make sure you understand the switch you are making and that you’re committed to doing it in a safe and healthy way.
One of the first steps to take when considering barefoot training is to take a good look at your feet and begin to learn more about them. Did you know your feet have 52 bones, 66 joints, 40 muscles and hundreds of sensory receptors, tendons and ligaments?
I had no idea! It makes sense that we should pay more attention to our feet than we typically do and give them the attention and care they disserve. After all, our movements start with our feet.
Since our feet are so used to being “trapped” in our shoes on a daily basis, it’s important to take the time each day to wake-up all those parts and pieces in your feet to help build and strengthen your muscles.
Vibram FiveFingers recommends to start with the sensory foot exercises located HERE, on their website. I’ve been doing this the past couple of weeks! It’s weird at first, because we don’t typically have this close of a relationship with our feet, but give it a solid try!
Once you’ve rejuvenated those bones, joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments, you can start strengthening those feet! The strengthening exercises provided through Vibram FiveFingers’ Foot Fitness will help your feet become stronger, more flexible and controlled in their movements. You can find the Foot Fitness exercises HERE!
If you’re interested in barefoot running, keep in mind that you essentially have to start over. Your feet need to relearn how to run in a new way. Typically, because of the raised, cushioned heel on tennis shoes, we run with a heel-to-toe strike. With barefoot running, you land on the forefront (or the ball) of your foot. Therefore, your feet need to relearn how to run! If you jump into barefoot running too quickly, you could very well give yourself some awful injuries. Here is a barefoot running plan from Vibram à Running Plan!
Making the switch to minimalist footwear and is a personal choice and requires research and dedication. Kat Vonier, a senior General Studies major with emphasis in nutrition health and sociology, has been wearing her Vibram Five Fingers for 3 years. I asked her a couple of questions about her personal experience with the barefoot lifestyle.
Kat told me she first started wearing Vibrams when she wanted to get back into running. Since you have to start from zero when transitioning to barefoot running, it seemed like a good time to try it out.
“The first couple of weeks of break in time I noticed soreness in my calf muscles. I definitely had some of the same discomfort and blisters that any runner breaking in new shoes has at first. After a couple of months running I have not experienced any of those issues.”
Kat says that since wearing her Vibrams, her feet have become more flexible and she hasn’t rolled an ankle or had any sprains due to the increased stability of her joint.
Just as the Vibram Five Finger websites advises, Kat suggests trying on many different sizes and styles to find out what’s right for you. Also, take the time to learn how to properly break in your new shoes and be patient with your feet as they learn how to run with a new stride.
Best of luck!