One Week With Crazy Shoes

posted in Tech on May 6, 2009

It has officially been one week since I received my Vibram Five Fingers, and for seven days I wore only those shoes. So what’s the verdict? Do they suck? Hurt? Somehow turn you into a Hobbit? While they are very unconventional shoes, at the end of the day I must say they definitely rock my face.

With most anything, there is a learning curve that must be overcome. It took me a couple of days for my feet and legs to adjust to the shoes. The first thing you might notice is that your calf muscles will hurt in weird and new ways. Your legs probably aren’t used to balancing barefoot style for really long periods of time. A couple of days of soreness will most likely result if you are anything like me. Walking around outside on cement will also take a little getting used to. We’ve all grown up having our feet pampered by increasingly higher levels of “comfort,” with inch thick padding and weird shock absorbers, so walking around with none of that does feel strange and uncomfortable at first.

The key phrase of all of that is “at first.” After this initial period of soreness, both in your legs and probably your feet too, your body starts to make an interesting shift in sensitivity and awareness. I’ve noticed that in this last week I have changed my default walk from being heel-toe heel-toe (thanks marching band), which feels just awful barefoot, I might add, to a walk that feels more distributed among the whole foot. It all feels much lighter, and walking on all materials isn’t an issue anymore. An added bonus is you definitely gain some proprioception with your legs and feet, which is just fancy talk for foot-eye coordination. It’s not really something you think about until you go back to wearing regular shoes with relatively “static” soles. Today, for example, marks the first day that I had to wear some “normal” shoes because, to be frank, I couldn’t wear my awesome shoes with slacks (maybe one day!). As I was walking to my car, I immediately felt like I wasn’t touching the ground the way I should be. It felt pretty weird and unnatural to have a solid sole separating me from the ground.

The hardest thing to get used to with these shoes – if you plan on doing it – is running. I had originally purchased the shoes as running shoes because my job(s) for the past year have had me sit behind desks for hours on end. My healthy glow I once had as a youth had began to fade into a sea of sluggishness and I wasn’t about to have that. I spent one evening with the shoes jogging/running around my neighborhood while still during the adjustment period. Out of the whole week this was probably the worst thing I could have done, only because my feet weren’t fully ready for it yet. It’s pretty easy to get used to walking in the shoes, but running on hard cement should be something that you hold off on for probably at least a week until your feet get used to hard surfaces. After the run was the only time I felt any discomfort in my feet. But I fully blame myself and not the shoes for this. Just a warning.

So after a week I am still enjoying my purchase. I will definitely recommend these shoes to anyone who wants something that will be, after a few days, more comfortable and fun than what they most likely have in their closet. I’m no expert on feet stuffs, however, so if you have any medical type questions be sure to read over everything they have on the Vibram site to make sure they might be good for you.