I love to run, and when I lived in South Florida I ran barefoot on the beach for years. Living in Colorado didn’t provide many opportunities for barefoot running, but when the Vibram Five Finger came out, I got a pair immediately and started wearing them for all my workouts and runs. Check out how easy they are to put on, and why they’re better for your body than sneakers.
Maybe you’ve seen people wearing this awesome, yet slightly funny looking footwear or maybe you’ve never even heard of them. If you’re wondering whether they’d be good for you, or why you would want to switch from sneakers, read on…
Sneakers are mass-produced. If we’re fortunate enough to go to a great place like The Boulder Running Company or other store that provides custom-fittings, videos of your feet walking and running on a treadmill, and fits you for a specific shoe that helps your individual gait, we can avoid that mass-produced feel to a certain extent.
Your foot is unique, and it’s engineered to absorb shock from the impact of walking, running and jumping and carrying you around all day. The separation of your foot bones and the muscles that lie in between them work together to provide natural shock absorption as you go through a heel strike-toe-off gait cycle. This is the reason the Vibrams have separated toes, so that your foot can do its natural job of protecting you. When you’re in a sneaker, your toes are close together and the shock absorption is being provided by the sneaker and its support structure.
Years of wearing sneakers may actually change the way you walk, run and move. Barefoot running will allow and encourage the even development of the muscles in your feet, providing you with a strong and balanced base for everything you do. Don’t do anything in a Vibram that you wouldn’t do barefoot though. They’re great for the gym, running on the treadmill and trails, but never run or do impact activities on surfaces you wouldn’t do them on barefoot, like cement or concrete.
The things that take a little getting used to as a new Vibram wearer include getting them on….just get your toes in first, then slide on the heel. They’re all washable, and after you’ve worn them a few times and start washing them they’ll form to your feet and be easier and easier to get on. They are also going to ask something new from your foot muscles, especially if you’ve been relying on the “arch support” and “cushion”of a sneaker. But don’t worry! Muscles grow and develop and the human body is amazingly adaptable. Building strong, healthy feet muscles will serve you well for a long time to come.