picture credit to http://www.vibramfivefingers.it/
I wear Vibram 5 Fingers and I get a lot of comments such as:
”How strange!” “Where can I get some?!” “Do you have your train ticket? No? Well you are wearing these awesome shoes so this ride is on me” “You look like you are from the X-Men” “Shoes?!”
But mostly, these comments are majorly negative:
“Weirdo” “What are those creepy things?” “WTF” “Get away from me” “The glass will go right through” “Get some good shoes so you don’t hurt your feet” “Converse are just as minimalist” “Those are hurting your feet”
Now, I can’t address the first comments and the plethora of others that come my way but I would like to talk about the last 3 comments there and the reasons they are wrong.
Walking, running, climbing barefoot is the way we have done it for literally thousands of years. Before we donned the first sandals our ancestors were running through fields, villages, and rocky mountains. Some of the healthiest times in human history were in these ages and we can attribute this, in part, to the fact that they ran with no shoes.
Today we put coffins of rubber and thread on our feet encasing them and ruining our balance and physical health. Here are the reasons. If I forget a reason, I’ll refresh this post and let you know.
1. Modern shoes but your feet at a slant, a position which is not natural and sticks our backs, knees, legs, and hips into awkward positions.
2. Modern shoes encase our feet. During the “Chinese Middle Ages” as I like to call them, the women would bind their feet as small feet were considered lady like and beautiful. Today, we do the same thing although not quite to the extreme. Ever looked down at your feet and seen how close your toes are? Obviously you’ve looked at your hands; notice how open they are? Your feet should look much more like your hands. With toes this close together, we lose balance and stability. Imagine taking a boat, and making it so thin it would almost sink. This is what we do to our feet.
3. Shoes that support our feet are actually destroying us. You know those Nike shoes with massive round shocks in the back? This cushioning is encouraging heel striking or hitting with your heel first. While this may seem perfectly normal to you today, it isn’t natural. Ever notice how after running for a while every step seems to jar you? That is because you are landing on your heel and essentially, bone. Nike shoes like I have described simply make the problem worse as it becomes less painful. With less pain comes more of the wrong procedure and more problems with a person’s back, knees, etc… The correct way to run is on the ball (or the front) of the foot. This allows for a spring like step. When running or walking barefoot the correct way, there is no jarring, no matter how long you run for. Your entire body takes on the path the way it should have.
4. The menace of the flat shoe (converse style shoes) should be pretty obvious by now. They encase your foot and slant you just enough to cause a problem. Your feet can’t get strong and healthy the way they should be in these shoes.
5. The arch of your foot is meant to flatten and then spring back. That is what allows us human’s to walk fully. Shoes take this away from this by keeping that section of our foot from moving.
By now you are saying to yourself either “these are awesome” or “there are no sources” or “you haven’t explained why my feet hurt when trying to go barefoot”. Well, be prepared to be pleased. I will put sources at the bottom of this post all of which are creditable and link to scientific studies on the matter.
As for why it hurts for you? Well, it is simple, you just haven’t gone barefoot for long enough. Just like an addicting drug, weening someone off of supportive shoes or converse shoes is a long and bumpy road. Their feet are usually so weak that most activity barefoot will hurt to the extreme for a few months. After that however, the pain will disappear and you will find yourself happier than before, with a spring in your step (literally).
Going barefoot or minimalist (like VFF) has it’s advantages.
1. Your foot is allowed to flex and absorb shock.
2. You can run faster and farther
3. Your physical form and posture improve.
5. Your ability to balance increases dramatically.
6. The muscles in your legs will tone and begin to form correctly.
7. it goes on
I have a bet with a friend for 30 euro. I say that in 3 years, going barefoot or with simple shoes like Vibram 5 Fingers (see my review here) will catch on all over the world. Right now it is only in the US and that is partially because the people in the United States are early adopters. Here in Europe though, people care much more about style than anything. I bet though, that it will change. At some point, the people of Europe will get fed up of feeling uncomfortable and just switch to being barefoot. Plus, if it started in the US, big corporations will make it popular in Europe.
Some people ask me how I manage to live with all the comments. Well, the more I receive, negative or positive, the more I want to wear these shoes.
To make sure you are all filled in I have cut snippets of different articles with their sources right below. I hope you enjoyed. Here are some quotes from the articles:
“What’s so great about going shoeless? It allows the foot to flex and absorb shock, says Tony Post, president of Vibram USA, which makes FiveFingers. With thick heels, people lengthen their strides, landing heel-first and letting the shoe absorb the impact of each footfall. You can’t do that barefoot (try it sometime), so your body naturally falls into a shorter stride, landing first on the outside middle or ball of your foot. As you advance your foot rolls inward; the arch flattens and helps absorb the impact; it then springs back up as you lift your foot and push off the ground.”
“running barefoot or with minimal footwear is the way to avoid injury.”
If you’re thinking about taking up running to burn off those holiday pounds, you might want to set aside the running shoes. A study published in American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation reports that average running shoes mess up your hips, knees and ankles more than running barefoot or even running in high heels!
Lose your shoes: Is barefoot better? neuroanthropology view
“The human foot is a work of art and a masterpiece of engineering.”
—Leonardo Da Vinci
“OK, dude, what’s up with the goofy shoes?”
“I remained a skeptic but tested them a month later. Now, I have three pairs and find it hard to wear other shoes. Vibram Five Fingers shoes (“VFFs” to the die-hard fans) are worth a closer look.
After two weeks of wearing them, the lower-back pain I’d had for more than 10 years disappeared and hasn’t returned since I started experimentation about 8 weeks ago.”
“Going barefoot is one option, and one that I enjoy, but there are limits. In the concrete jungle, glass and other dangers make going Bushman a roll of the dice at best. Tetanus or a trip to the ER? I’ll pass.
The Vibram Five Fingers shoes, to differing degrees, allow you to both walk without a heel (as would wrestling shoes, the Nike Free, Vivo Barefoot shoes, or thin flip-flops) and condition toe-spread, especially the big toe, for lateral stability.”
“People who don’t wear shoes when they run have an astonishingly different stride,” said Daniel Lieberman, Harvard University researcher, in a statement. “By landing on the middle or front of the foot, barefoot runners have almost no impact collision, much less than most shod runners generate when they heel-strike.”
Barefoot Likely Better Than Shoes If You Step on a Nail
Why running barefoot is better than running with shoes