Saturday, September 22, 2012

Review: Vibram Five Fingers Shoe For Minimalist Running

Running shoe technology never stops developing and advancing. But it’s wrong to assume that all of these developments are moving towards more advanced cushioning and support and motion control features. In fact, one of the most popular trends in running shoes over the past few years has been that of “minimalism.”

The concept of minimalism states that since humans have been walking and running for thousands of years with very basic shoes or sandals (or even barefoot), it’s preferable to keep any footwear as minimal as possible and simply let the human body do its job.

English: Vibram FiveFingers Sprint shoes, inne...
Vibram FiveFingers Sprint shoes, inner side. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One of the first shoe companies to take advantage of this trend was Vibram. Vibram introduced its first “Five Fingers” shoe in 2005.  The best description of a Vibram Five Fingers shoe is that it resembles a “glove” that hugs and conforms to the shape of the foot. And just like a glove, these shoes contain individual compartments for each toe. But unlike a glove, the Five Fingers shoe is not simply comprised of a few pieces of fabric stitched together. Rather, these Five Fingers shoes have a shaped and contoured durable rubber outsole, and a pliant upper to make sure that the shoe fits comfortably and securely.

Vibram currently offers over a dozen different models for men and women, and even several different models for children. The differences in the various Five Finger shoes relate primarily to how they will be used. Vibram offers models that are geared towards indoors activities such as dancing and yoga, as well as outdoor activities that take place on sidewalks, paved bike paths, well groomed trails, and rougher trails. Vibram even offers models designed for walking, hiking and running outdoors in cooler temperatures (and even snow).

Each model of the Five Fingers shoe allows the foot to move naturally. The shoes are ideal for individuals who want to be able to run with a barefoot style and form (which generally means landing more in the middle or front of the foot rather than striking the ground with the heel), but who don’t want to be on a constant lookout for glass or other debris that might be on their normal walking paths. The Five Fingers shoe fills the need for runners, walkers and other active individuals who want to strengthen their feet and allow their bodies to experience motion without undue restriction in their feet.

Vibram Five Fingers Shoeware
Vibram Five Fingers Shoeware (Photo credit: mauritsonline)
New users of Five Fingers shoes will notice that while they generally feel quite comfortable once their feet are in the shoes, the process of putting them on can be a bit challenging the first few times. Because the shoe has different compartments for each toe, it can take a bit of practice. It’s also important to try on the model of whatever Five Fingers shoe you’re considering, because the sizing might be different from your current traditional style shoes.

While it’s not necessarily a downside or a negative, it is worth noting that a person who doesn’t have particularly strong foot muscles (in other words, just about anyone who spends most of their waking hours in traditional shoes) will have a bit of an adjustment period while their body gets used to the new footwear. Traditional shoes generally restrict the movement of the feet, so the muscles in the foot will require some time to strengthen themselves. Just take it slowly (see tips in our previous post) and you’ll likely find the Five Fingers shoe to be a great new addition to your active lifestyle.

Vibram Five Fingers Shoe Examples:
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