You’ve probably seen them, or at least heard of them.
The Vibram FiveFingers Shoes!
They tend to come back into circulation every couple of years with new marketing that pushes the same concept
– a design that allows barefoot freedom and sensitivity.
After seeing Anthony Wiggle wearing them in a episode yesterday I felt compelled to talk about them!
Vibram FiveFinger claims:
- A reconnection of your foot with the earth
- Allowing your foot to feel every change in terrain
- A shorter stride, lighter step and better balance
- “Instinctive running”
The Marketing Around Vibrams
The Vibrams are said to target the “committed athlete”, taking running back to its more natural form. A concept where the runner relies on the strength of their feet and legs, rather than the cushioning and support of a shoe. Vibram FiveFinger shoes fall into the Minimalist shoe category.
Minimalist shoes are designed to allow the ball of the foot or the midfoot to strike the ground before the heel, leading to almost no impact collision. Meaning reduced impact. This is said to reduce the risk of plantar fasciitis and ankle sprains. You can see this idea below.
Vibrams – The reality and with what Podiatrists see
What you won’t see in the marketing, is a downside to minimalist style shoes that aren’t talked about – conditioning. If a person doesn’t transition slowly enough from heel striking or from wearing shoes with an elevated heel, there is an increased risk of injuries. Issues that we see in the clinic include the plantar fascia becoming irritated, Achilles tendinosis, metatarsal inflammation and even fractures. Pretty intense isn’t it?
Most feet are simply not ready for them! Injuries can and do happen.
Should I get Vibram FiveFingers?
If you are thinking of trying minimalist shoes, the most important question I would ask you is why. Understanding your “why” with knowing benefits and risks with the vibrams design is vital.
- Are you a competitive runner?
- Do you want a lighter shoe to shave time off your race?
- Want to build up your foot and leg strength?
- Simply curious?
Are you willing to train your feet AND slowly adapt?
Being motivated to take the time to slowly transition from regular shoes to minimalist shoes is important. I would recommend transitioning over a 12 month period to avoid such issues.
Transition exercises includes barefoot time walking and running on sand, running on varied surfaces such as grass, sand, road. Strength work is paramount too, including exercises such as toe curls and splays and weighted calf raises. Don’t forget release work with a lacrosse ball too!
Do they meet your fashion standards?
This comment comes tongue in cheek!
Are you ready for the questions from friends and family? It may sound silly, but people often choose shoes depending on the colour, so we can admit that fashion may influence your decision!
Minimalist shoes including the Vibram FiveFingers can be beneficial in strengthening your feet and legs IF you are willing to take the time to transition and be smart about your running.If you’re not going to take the smart approach, I wouldn’t bother. Stick to your normal runners, throw in regular strength work and save your money!