Vibram Five Fingers - What do you think?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 12, 2010 3:08 AM GMT
    As someone who loves running I logged many miles this past year and started running in NYC Road Runner's Sponsored events this year, and as a result I (like many other people) experienced a knee injury. The joint pain in my right knee got so bad after the Bronx Half Marathon that could barely walk, the pain became a constant.

    I started physical therapy, but early into my recovery I read "Born to Run" by Brian McDougal (amazing and inspiring book, btw) and started researching barefoot running and the shoes known as Vibram Five Fingers.

    I ended up getting a pair to test out and I fell in love. After just walking around in them for a week the pain in my knee started to alleviate. I did some test running in them and so far there has been no pain. I went for a great run outside(something I hadn't done in a month) and still no pain.

    Maybe it could be that I want to believe that they made a difference in how I run and speeding up the strength building in my leg that physical therapy was helping me to do, or maybe they really are the miracle that all runners should try.

    So here is the question- Has anybody else out there tried them and been converted? Or does anybody have any research that says that running in these could eventually lead to more injury. Love 'em or hate 'em?
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    Nov 12, 2010 3:37 AM GMT
    Also has anybody read the book the mentioned, Born to Run?
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    Nov 12, 2010 5:28 AM GMT
    I've been genuinely interested in these shoes or foot covers as some call them. I'm still undecided if I'm going to drop the money on buying a set anytime soon however.

    I will say that I've noticed in the past if I had a pair of shoes that were wearing out on me when I went to purchase another set of shoes that what ever leg pain was aleaveited within days. Not too sure on the science of it all but that may have someting to do with it.
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    Nov 12, 2010 5:45 AM GMT
    wallcrawler83 saidAlso has anybody read the book the mentioned, Born to Run?


    Yes, I loved the book...a friend of mine gave it to me for last Christmas and it was really entertaining and great. I had trouble ordering the true size from REI as well as how popular they are an are in back-ordered, and wanted to wait for the Bilkia model which recently came out and had read from other hard core runners that this was the model to get based on a bit more support than the others. I am planning to transition slowly though in view that you will be using more of your calf muscles for the runs. There are transitions plans out there as well if you do of a bit research.

    In regards to research, the evidence is still sketchy on two camps - one front contends that it has benefited them, while the other contends that that you could injury yourself...with anything I think moderation and listening to your body is key. I had a friend who started and has successful transitioned, but he started first walking on them, and then doing a mile or less first and then progressing.

    Below is the story with Brian McDougals commentary:

    http://abcnews.go.com/video/playerIndex?id=8989402

    Other articles:

    http://www.sportsscientists.com/2008/03/running-shoes-part-iii.html

    http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2010/01/different-strokes/


  • chgobuzz1

    Posts: 155

    Nov 12, 2010 6:50 AM GMT
    I have the KSO version which I use to run and work out in both indoors and out. I really like them as it mimics barefoot runing which I love. I did a step aerobics class in them but found the pounding was a bit to hard on my feet so switched back to New Balance for step class. I want to buy a pair for every day wear. They feel almost like wearing mocs or thick socks and if you like that feeling and dont like wearing shoes a lot you will love these. It is myth that feet need to be wrapped in cloth and leather all day for support. The muscles in feet will develop if allowed to speard beyond the limits of confining shoes which is why people report knee pain disipates with barefoot running and going barefoot in general. Here in Chicago Im seeeing more guys out and about wearing Vibrams now that it is getting too cold for flip flops or maybe they just like the feeling of being closer to barefoot. I found in hot weether they made my feet too hot. But all I have are the KSO's. The other styles may be cooler.
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    Nov 12, 2010 7:23 AM GMT
    I call them my blister factories, or shoes from hell. I got a pair of nike free's and then was SO excited to get the vibram's.

    Major complaints:
    1. Where the rubber meets your foot, particularly on the inside of the forefoot, not just blisters - literally rubbing the skin right off. I got 6 miles into a 9 mile run and had to hobble 3 miles back to my car after it cut through the skin.
    2. No padding - means that trail running is particularly irritating, because whenever you step on a rock, YOU FEEL IT.

    I think they're making a new version that at least corrects the total lack of any foot protection, but ... I've been trying to wear these things for about a year now, and can't do any sort of distance in them without destroying my feet (which, historically, have been pretty resilient to running).

    Just my experience, though. icon_idea.gif
  • MykeY

    Posts: 22

    Nov 12, 2010 7:39 AM GMT
    So far I've had nothing really positive to say about these guys after 6 months of trying to love them, but I guess I need to check those books out and see what I'm missing out on. Here are the reasons I don't like it them:

    1. I have abnormally long toes in proportion to my feet so they don't fit very well.
    2. I'm still not comfortable running in them and have not adjusted my running style yet so my heels end up feeling like I took a hammer to them by the time I'm done running.
    3. When running on hot surfaces, they heat up VERY quickly and cool down quite slowly.
    4. I like trail running and running on trails with rocks feel like I'm running on a trail with rocks.

    Oh! I just thought of a positive: they're pretty efficient for rock climbing without buying a set of shoes solely (pun intended!) for climbing.
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    Nov 12, 2010 7:58 AM GMT
    Yeah seems like people either love em or hate em. You really do need to work into them though, If you ever hit your heel while running in them it is sheer pain. So it is a completely different running form than most are used to.

    I do agree with the blisters though. I have the KSO's and yeah, where my big toe knuckle joint is, it rubbed until my blister formed then popped, then went raw, between mile six and seven there was a fresh blood stain on them. Oddly enough it didn't hurt very much...and still know knee pain, lol.
  • Cockteau

    Posts: 1

    Nov 17, 2010 1:25 AM GMT
    For me Five Fingers have been life transforming - using them for 18 months. I run 7 days a week now, up from 3-4, and do a 10-15M road/trail run on Sundays (asphalt road, lots of rubble and roots on trail). I've had knee problems in the past but don't any longer. No doubt not everyone will have the same experience. That said, I suspect many guys who have problems with them don't have the right size or are not adjusting their stride to land on the forefoot. Also, it took me weeks to transition from my cushy running shoes.

    Next marathon I run I'll be wearing them - or going barefoot. Then I'll see about a 50 miler.
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    Nov 17, 2010 1:28 AM GMT
    Been there done that, and I really do't seem to feel any "transformation" from them. I actually tried wearing them day to day for a couple of weeks and the only thing you get from it is people asking about them.

    I've noticed more guys wearing them around today (I bought mine last year or the year before) though I've never really been a fan of running in them.

    Check out the bodybuilding.com and http://www.t-nation.com/ website forums, you'll find some interesting articles and forum posts about them.

  • westdave

    Posts: 212

    Nov 17, 2010 1:30 AM GMT
    I have a pair of them. I use for training myself and when I train my clients. Use these shoes with caution when performing balance-related exercises.

    The shoes are not for everyone, especially those with issues in their lower extremities, LPHC and who have weight problems, as joint/muscular/connective tissue problems may become exacerbated. I do not use them for running, more to strengthen my feet, ankles, and frankly my whole body - fascia chains included.
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    Nov 17, 2010 1:36 AM GMT
    Damn. Whenever I see this topic I keep reading "Vibrator Five Fingers." icon_confused.gif
  • swimbikerun

    Posts: 2835

    Nov 17, 2010 1:42 AM GMT
    I tried running in them but I think you can actually get a lot of use out of them if you just wear them around.
    My regular shoes feel like 'platforms' or something. I wore them for one day only just walking around and my calves were killing me but my feet felt great.
    The toes really want to grip and flex.
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    Nov 17, 2010 4:18 AM GMT
    I've actually seen a guy at my gym hefting heavy dumbells in these. While I wouldn't emulate him, and have avoided running and other impact exercise given a bad back, I'm wondering whether they'd be useful in eventually transitioning back to running because I wanted to start out running barefoot at my local beach, which is shell encrusted, with my dogs. Is this advisable? These two pics show the actual crunchy surface I'd be running on (and my dogs, for scale):

    i78zsz.jpg

    14aepe8.jpg
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    Nov 18, 2010 9:23 PM GMT
    there's a guy here who once posted he broke his toe trail running in fivefingers.

    i bought neoprene slippers last spring to get a feeling of that type of running.
    i never quite made it to full time forefoot running . its just too hard on calf muscles on pavement. It' fine on soft ground.
    i also tried complete barefoot running and that never hurt except UNDER my feet. I'm just too sensitive so it was limited to grass.

    i actually use a mixture of techniques which is why i prefer "racing flats" type of shoes..




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    Nov 18, 2010 9:32 PM GMT
    A1EX saidDamn. Whenever I see this topic I keep reading "Vibrator Five Fingers." icon_confused.gif


    This made me literally LOL.

    I wear Vibram when I work out. I realize they are worthless for lifting but I wear them anyways. I think it is because of the fact that they are lighter and smaller than my training shoes so they don't weight my gym bag down.

    I've ran with them before and they make my feet hurt like a mother fucker. I think they are only useful for squats and stuff.
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    Nov 19, 2010 10:57 PM GMT
    MykeY saidSo far I've had nothing really positive to say about these guys after 6 months of trying to love them, but I guess I need to check those books out and see what I'm missing out on. Here are the reasons I don't like it them:

    1. I have abnormally long toes in proportion to my feet so they don't fit very well.
    2. I'm still not comfortable running in them and have not adjusted my running style yet so my heels end up feeling like I took a hammer to them by the time I'm done running.
    3. When running on hot surfaces, they heat up VERY quickly and cool down quite slowly.
    4. I like trail running and running on trails with rocks feel like I'm running on a trail with rocks.

    Oh! I just thought of a positive: they're pretty efficient for rock climbing without buying a set of shoes solely (pun intended!) for climbing.


    That's your main problem right there. With minimalist shoes like the VFFs, you have to alter your running gait to either a midfoot or forefoot strike rather than a heel strike.
  • Kinneticbrian

    Posts: 230

    Nov 19, 2010 11:09 PM GMT
    I have one pair and love them. Being a former gymnast I am used to training and lifting barefoot and these are amazing. I plan to get more that I can actually wear outside the gym.

    Once you try them you will be hooked for life.
  • FredMG

    Posts: 988

    Nov 19, 2010 11:20 PM GMT
    I've been wearing 5 fingers for over 2 years now, and right off, they are not good for:

    walking in the rain

    keeping your feet warm

    kayaking, canoeing or other water-pass times that involve sand (and I'd guess shells too) or other fine stone granuals that get caught in in the shoes.

    hiking on snow sucks in them too. Not that I was out snowshoeing in them, but I made really good time, and hit the snowline earlier in the day than I thought and did a little hiking around.

    they are really good if:

    you do a bit of research on the five-fingers site and see if they'll work for what you want them for. They aren't just regular old running shoes to strap on and pound pavement.

    none of your toes are radically longer than the other.

    you train your feet for the new activity.

    accept that the way you currently walk or run probabably is not a good idea in these shoes. (I find that I don't land on my heels as hard, and my feet travel in more of an elipse than a circle)

    there are probably a dozen different kinds, from yoga to hiking. I have KSO's and Trekkers.

    I'd say if you get blisters, it's because of a bad fit, causing abrasion while you walk or run. try using the "Injini" socks to fill out the space.

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    Nov 19, 2010 11:34 PM GMT
    They are just a fad to sell more shoes (ie Sketchers rocker bottom toning shoes or the shoe with the large spring for a heel- can't remember the name of them). People love to buy the "latest and greatest new thing." They won't be around for more than 3-5 years. You are better off getting a good pair of New Balance with superfeet insoles. A good running shoe provides a much better base of support.
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    Nov 19, 2010 11:42 PM GMT
    I do wonder if they are not just a bit of a gimmick. I mean, why wouldn't you want the extra padding and protection that conventional training shoes provide? I think it could be like choosing a horse and cart over an automobile; very novel and initially very pleasant, but ultimately not too practical.
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    Nov 19, 2010 11:46 PM GMT
    I have a pair and I think they are great for training! I wouldn't wear them all the time though
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    Nov 20, 2010 12:01 AM GMT
    I tried them, but being partial flat footed, I always land up somewhat on my ankles along with foot and they do not provide any support for that. As a result my ankles started to hurt after sometime and I switched back to my old running shoes with Dr. Scholl's athletic soles. They have been the best thing that has happened to me running wise.
  • swimbikerun

    Posts: 2835

    Nov 26, 2010 3:12 PM GMT
    I'm starting to wear them instead of other shoes. They feel great and it is like walking around barefoot. I actually, so far, don't like running in them. My feet are too tender I guess. But my calves and feet definitely get a workout from just walking.
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    Nov 27, 2010 5:07 AM GMT
    MuchMoreThanMuscle saidI like running in these. I have to watch my lower back as these can make it very tight but so long as I stretch afterward I am fine.

    The butterflies add a masculine touch. icon_idea.gificon_idea.gificon_idea.gif


    Clear_Heels.jpg


    they're banned by the USATF as they give an unfair advantage in competitions.