Vibram Five Finger Shoes Review

Vibram Five Finger Shoes Review

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about these shoes.  Are Vibram Five Finger Shoes good for running?  Will they hurt my feet?  Can I race in them?  To satisfy my own curiosity and help answer your questions, I decided to purchase a pair.

What are Vibram Five Finger Shoes?

Wearing VFF shoes was like attaching rubber soles to the bottom of my feet.  It totally redefined walking and basically felt like I was walking barefoot everywhere. When I walked on concrete to grass or transitioned to asphalt, I felt the change in ground surfaces immediately.  It was definitely a really cool feeling.

What type of support can I get with Vibram Five Finger Shoes?

Similar to walking around barefoot, it does not offer any additional support for over or under pronators.

Can I wear Vibram Five Finger shoes and do sprints on concrete streets?

The answer depends on how you land when you run.  I went sprinting on the sidewalks with the Vibram and found that my feet were pounding on the pavement too hard.  In the end I found my shins and calves were burning after 400 yards.  If you want to see what it feels like to sprint with them, take off your socks and shoes and go sprinting barefoot.  It’s quite difficult, but feels exactly the same.  There is no ankle or arch support with makes it 100x harder to run.

Can I run a marathon in Vibram Five Finger Shoes?

Again it really depends on how you land and how strong your feet are.  If you have weak ankles, shins, knees or arches and relied on good shoes to help you with your running, it will be painful.  Traditional running shoes do all this work for you, but now that you stripped it away with wearing the VFF’s, you have to strengthen all these areas yourself.  It’s very easy to twist your ankles.  I would suggest to go running barefoot first then try on harder terrains.  Once you feel comfortable with that then buy some minimal shoes likes racing flats.  f you insist on running with them, this will ease your transition to the Vibrams.

Will the Vibram Five Finger Shoes hurt my feet?

Yes.  In the beginning these shoes will hurt.  I’ve tried running in them a few times and it will definitely take me over a year to get used to them.  But I’ve been only using them for my super easy runs.  I don’t dare take them on my longer runs yet.  I have bad knees and my Saucony’s help me with ankle and knee support.  I would say that it takes about 2 years of running with them to safely run a marathon.  I’m just thinking, running 3 miles barefoot.  ouch.

Do you wear socks with Vibram Five Finger Shoes?

No.  You don’t wear socks when you run or walk with these.   The problem becomes chaffing of the toes.  I went walking with them and a light jog, I came back with chaffing on the outside of my pinky toes and inside of my big toe.  I think it will just take time getting used to them as with any new shoes.

How durable are the Vibram Five Finger Shoes?

They are amazingly durable.  I’ve gone hiking and rockclimbing with them.  They don’t tear or rip easily.  THey are easy to wash and grip to any surface.  They were great also to use when I went dragonboating, so I assume they are also great for other water sports like kayaking or windsurfing.

Where can I find a pair of Vibram Five Finger Shoes?

If you want to try a pair, I live in Toronto and found mine at MEC.  If you live in the states they can be found at Paragon Sports or Rock Creek.  Price range $70-$80 USD.

Some people swear by running barefoot and embrace the the Vibram Five Finger Shoes technology but for me I’ll stick to my Sauconys for now.  I’ll use my Vibram’s as a good pair of shoes to do other sports in.  I totally love them for rockclimbing, they really grip onto the wall.  If you scrape the wall, the top part of the shoes do tear but it’s easy to sew it back together.

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Thanks for comments from Justin and below are answers to some of his questions:

“3) Regarding how you run, you never actually mentioned how you run – do you heel-strike when you run? If you do, it’s not surprising that you’d be hurting so much after a 400 yard sprint. You simply can’t heel strike running barefoot or with VFFs.”

I do heel midfoot strike and push off my forefoot when I run as I’m accustomed to.  If I was to pursue running barefoot I would try to alter my running form.

“Why would ankle or arch support make it 100x easier to run?”

Because arch and ankle support is to protect my feet, ankles and knees.  When running on the grass or dirt paths the number one concern I have is twisting or rolling my ankles.  VFF’s don’t have this support which makes it 100x harder to run in them.   When I ran in them I almost twisted my ankle just running on the sidewalk.   Arch support is necessary to keep my feet stable and to protect my knees.  After running in the VFF’s I felt a slight sharp pain in my shins and knees which I don’t usually get when I wear my running shoes.  I don’t want to risk injuring myself before my races.

“4) Why do you estimate it will take you over a year to get used to them? Depending on how slowly you take it transitioning to VFFs, you should not experience much pain — maybe some soreness as you rehabilitate atrophied muscles, but this isn’t very different from training any other muscle of your body.”

It would probably take me over a year to transition to VFF’s and to run at maximum speed.  I have bad knees and to strengthen them and my ankles would take lots of work.  Especially since I’ve been relying on Saucony technology for over 7 years to help me with it.   If “a runner” was persistent in running with the VFF’s I’m sure they will pick it up much faster.

“5) Lots of people wear socks with fivefingers — but they are necessarily toe socks such as injinjis. If anything, wearing socks actually reduces chaffing and seems to make it less likely you’ll get blisters while wearing VFFs. On the other hand, they add weight and heat to your feet and just make for a tighter fit. Plus, who has 5-toed socks? At $10+ a pair, it’s easier to just toughen up and grow callouses. But yea, you can and people do wear socks with VFFs.”

Really? I tried it and found that wearing socks with my VFF’s were very uncomfortable.  Especially since my socks are spread out across all my toes not just the shoes.  The fit is very tight so I think if people want to wear socks with their VFF’s they should buy a slightly bigger size shoe.   If you plan to wear normal socks with the VFF’s I don’t recommend wearing ankle socks because the socks shrink down to your arch after your done slipping the socks between all your toes.

“Interesting you like them for rock climbing — I’ve heard mixed reactions to their application in rock climbing as they apparently make things like smearing very difficult.”

No smearing required when I do rockclimbing.  I’m climbing beginner to intermediate walls indoors and there are holds that do not require friction between the soles and the walls.

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One Response to “Vibram Five Finger Shoes Review”

  1. justin says:

    A few comments:

    1) The picture you have is of the Bikila, which is a fivefingers model that won’t be available until 2010. Incidentally, that photo originated on birthdayshoes.com, but I don’t see any attribution on this post as to where you got it from (Please add a link if you want to keep this photo on this site as that is simply polite!).

    2) Since you don’t have the ones pictured here, which model did you use to test?

    3) Regarding how you run, you never actually mentioned how you run – do you heel-strike when you run? If you do, it’s not surprising that you’d be hurting so much after a 400 yard sprint. You simply can’t heel strike running barefoot or with VFFs.

    Why would ankle or arch support make it 100x easier to run?

    4) Why do you estimate it will take you over a year to get used to them? Depending on how slowly you take it transitioning to VFFs, you should not experience much pain — maybe some soreness as you rehabilitate atrophied muscles, but this isn’t very different from training any other muscle of your body.

    5) Lots of people wear socks with fivefingers — but they are necessarily toe socks such as injinjis. If anything, wearing socks actually reduces chaffing and seems to make it less likely you’ll get blisters while wearing VFFs. On the other hand, they add weight and heat to your feet and just make for a tighter fit. Plus, who has 5-toed socks? At $10+ a pair, it’s easier to just toughen up and grow callouses. But yea, you can and people do wear socks with VFFs.

    Interesting you like them for rock climbing — I’ve heard mixed reactions to their application in rock climbing as they apparently make things like smearing very difficult.

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