Well, it looks like I have officially jumped on the bandwagon. I have not ordered a pair of my own (yet), but Vibram Fivefingers Barefoot Shoes are now on my Christmas wish list. (Please Santa? I’ve been good!)
Initially, I thought they were plain weird. But after hearing their praises sung by friends and by bloggers on the various Paleo lifestyle Websites I watch, I finally decided to give ’em a go. A girlfriend of mine (Hi K!) loves her Vibrams so much she has two pairs. She shares my foot size, so I asked if I could borrow a pair for a few days. I slipped them on, wore them around the house for the day, and WHOA! My feet and legs were in for a rude awakening! The verdict? The muscles of my lower leg and foot are weak! They are usually snoozing when I walk around in comfortably padded and supportive footwear or walk on bare feet.
Huh? “Bare feet? But these shoes are supposed to mimic bare feet! How is wearing the shoes different than walking around with bare feet?” I found that way the shoes are made and the way my feet are made are different enough that my toes really had to spread out to fit into the toe slots. This sounds like a bad thing, but it’s not. It forced me to use my entire foot and all of my toes when walking and standing, which apparently is not the way I typically walk and stand. Using my whole foot and all of my toes really “woke up” the small intrinsic muscles in my feet as well as the evertors (the peroneal muscles on the outside of the lower leg) and the “shin” muscles. I can see how one would have to ease into wearing them, especially for running. Fair warning: there is a technique to running in Vibrams… I haven’t tried yet, but I might… We’ll see. For now, walking was enough of a wake-up call to alert me that my feet and legs are typically sleeping on the job.
There were a few cons to these shoes. My foot is narrow and my toes are long. Really long. The “toe slots” (as I’ve taken to calling them) are too short for my toes, so I can’t say they fit like a glove. They were also a bit wide for my foot. I would be interested in trying on a few different pairs for a size-check… Where to shop for Vibrams in Kaiserslautern, Germany? I’ll have to work on this one.
So Santa, although there are a few cons, I would love to own two pairs. One for wearing around the house like slippers, and a second pair for my morning walks. I’m on the barefoot bandwagon… Are you?
And here’s an awesome video that details how to strengthen and stretch the muscles of the feet and lower leg in order to make the most of your “barefoot” running (or walking!) experience: