Recently a relative started running. He jumped in and has not looked back yet. Up to six miles a day, he is feeling better, eating healthier and has dropped twenty six pounds. With him running the discussion of footwear came up. The new craze is a type of shoe called Vibram Five Fingers. They are designed for a more natural fit that encourages better foot position naturally. Being a bigger guy he was a bit nervous to try them because so far his Asics were working fine but he agreed to try them.
Vibram Five Finger shoes are meant to be worn without orthotic inserts, without socks. They are meant to be worn against runner’s bare feet to allow the foot to move like it would naturally. It is not a shoe that you can jump right into wearing. This is especially true for flat footed individuals and individuals with extreme arches. As a runner works into wearing the shoes the muscles in the foot will adapt and strengthen. This will help with the adjustment period.
Fortunately our guinea pig was anxious to start trying his out. The first week of training in the Vibram Five Fingers he ran only ten minutes in them. He claimed his feet were killing him after each use but new that some adjustment was going to take place and continued with the break in phase. By the end of the week and into the second week the muscles were building strength and his lower legs and feet were beginning to lessen in pain. He was still not completing his normal six miles just wearing the new shoes but was building up the tolerance.
Reading online people tend to work into their Vibram Five Finger shoes at different paces. Some can completely switch in a few weeks while others take months to break their foot into the shoes. Once an individual feels their endurance, muscle strength improve the results will be worth however long they have waited for it. The increase foot and body strength will be noticeable and the shoes will be the ones getting the credit.
There are certain people that should not venture into the world of Vibram Five Finger footwear including people who use orthotics in their footwear, those with extreme pronation and individuals with webbed feet. The shoe manufacturer does not have a way to manufacturer this shoe to meet the specific needs of individual client’s feet. It is best if a runner does have some issues that require orthotics or have extreme pronation, under or over mention the interest in these new shoes to a foot doctor first. As with any product it is not a one size fits all.
Our family was fortunate as we got to see our runner cross the line of his first five kilometer race wearing his new shoes. What started out as a trend to try turned into a runner falling in love with this bare foot style running method. Our family actually caught him wearing them around out at the grocery store.