Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Vibram Five Fingers

So, I have officially gone crazy. I think I've become a fitness nut, disregarding all my social and fashion sense pursue my fitness goals with reckless abandon.

Okay, maybe it's not that bad. BUT, when I bought these shoes,


I pretty much though that's what it had come to.

See, when I first saw VFF's, it was back in May, right before I flipped my life upside down to get healthy. That was the unhealthy-fat-lethargic-mousey-Diana. I saw those shoes with John, my reaction was:

"Those are absolutely hideous, and I would never want you to even try them on!"

And now....just six months later.....I have them on my very own feet. Yes, go ahead and mock me now.

So, here's why I went from laughing at them to wearing them:

It started as I became more and more aware of fitness in general, and how our bodies are supposed to work. It's been a long process of learning for me, because I was treating my body like trash in pretty much every way at the beginning of the summer.

Here in Huntsville, these have become pretty popular. The first person I talked with who had them was my Pilates instructor. She absolutely loved them, and told me about how great they are for your posture and how they allow your foot to move and support your weight the way your foot was made to to do. She is a very cute, hip, fit person, and so that started to change my perception of that they maybe weren't so bizarre after all.

I saw more and more people wearing VFF's, and everyone loved them. By the end of the summer, my gym shoes were starting to wear out. Which, by the way, is pretty much awesome, seeing as I completely wore out a pair of good shoes in 4 months by working out so hard!

So, I told John I would be interested in doing some more research and trying some on. Here's some stuff I found on the Vibram website about the theory behind these weird shoes:

Many experts believe the shoes we wear not only cast the foot in a protective form, but also weaken our foot and leg muscles, leaving them underdeveloped and more prone to injury. And while there are many occasions where traditional footwear is essential for protection, safety, and security, it is equally important to stimulate and exercise the foot in a more natural state on a regular basis.

That’s why we recommend wearing FiveFingers for exercise, for play, and for fun. Stimulating muscles in your feet and lower legs will not only make you stronger and healthier, it improves your balance, agility and proprioception. 
Vibram FiveFingers is different than any other footwear on the planet. Not only do they bring you closer to your environment, they deliver a number of positive health benefits—by leveraging all of the body’s natural biomechanics, so you can move as nature intended.

6 Reasons to Wear VFF's:

1. Strengthens Muscles in the Feet and Lower Legs - wearing FiveFingers will stimulate and strengthen muscles in the feet and lower legs, improving general foot health and reducing the risk of injury.
2. Improves Range of Motion in Ankles, Feet and Toes – no longer ‘cast’ in a shoe, the foot and toes move more naturally.
3. Stimulates Neural Function Important to Balance and Agility - when wearing Vibram FiveFingers, thousands of neurological receptors in the feet send valuable information to the brain, improving balance and agility.
4. Improves Proprioception and Body Awareness – those same neurological receptors heighten body awareness, sending messages about body mechanics, form, and movement.
5. Eliminates Heel Lift to Align the Spine and Improve Posture – By lowering the heel, our bodyweight becomes evenly distributed across the footbed, promoting proper posture and spine alignment.
6. Allows the Foot and Body to Move Naturally, Which Just Feels Good.

So, that was enough to intrigue me. I mean, it makes sense to let our foot use every little muscle instead of encasing it in a running shoe. Also, I go barefoot and wear flip flops a lot anyway, so I thought the transition might not be too weird.

So, I took the plunge.

I've had them for a week now. I must be honest, it hasn't been an instant success. But, supposedly some people need up to a few weeks to fully transition. 

One thing I can notice a difference in is the way it uses my muscles. Like, OH MY GOSH MY CALVES!!!!! I've been wearing them every other day, and the evening and day after I wear them, my calves are soooooo sore. Which is awesome. Because, well, I want rock hard calves. I guess that I just use the balls of my feet a whole lot more, and that's why my calves get a crazy workout. Also, after I've been wearing them for a while, my little toe muscles --like the ones I never knew I had-- start getting really tire and somewhat sore. Hopefully after another week my muscles will have caught up.

Another thing I didn't realize is that my toes are funny lengths. I had never realized this, but my 4th toe is way shorter than it should be. Instead of having a gentle slope from my big toe to my pinkie toe, the 4th one is actually only a teenie bit taller than the pinkie toe. Not a big deal, something I'd never noticed....until I wore FiveFingers. Now all of a sudden, it's like a glove where I'm missing half a finger! I can move all my toes, except if I try to move that little 4th one, it feels like it could slip out of it's little toe spot! Not good. I think it's just something to get used to and won't cause a problem. I think it's funny that I never had noticed that about my toes until the VFF's. Oh well, learn something new every day!

So far in the gym it's been good to use them. I really enjoy running in them; it's more of a barefoot running style --running with a midsole strike instead of a heel strike. My shins haven't hurt as much either when I'm running with these.

One thing that's weird about them is feeling different sensations. Like, in my step classes, I can completely feel the texture of the step, but even though it seems like I'm feeling it with my foot, the sensation I get is that my foot is rubber. That seems confusing, but it's the best way I can explain it. The grip is also something to get used to....it's a lot more grippy than tennis shoes.

That's my analysis for now. I'll let you know how they hold up when I run my 5K in the frigid cold of Montana. So far though, I think I'll like them.

Go ahead and judge me.....do you think the VFF's are weird?


  1. Diana,

    Sorry, i do think they look a little crazy :) But I'm not critisizing you :) I think it'll be strange for you to run in them in MT on the snow, and perhaps ice, but maybe it will be dry and warm - who knows?

    I saw these at first in your Halloween picture (you looked great, BTW) and thought that you painted your whole foot black with like finger-paint or something ;) Now I know what it was :)

  2. haha-- that's okay Ira! Like I said, I thought they looked completely strange too! They have some CoolMax toe socks that they say you can wear with them for winter, so I might buy those. But I will also bring my other shoes just in case they don't work in MT. :)

  3. Good idea about bringing other shoes. :) Just in case ;) Are they running shoes? I know I tried to run a couple of times in cross-training shoes (early on, when I didn't know better, I might have told you), and completely killed my shins and knees for 2 weeks). So be careful - running outside on pavement or concrete in non-running shoes is very different than on the treadmill - there's no cushioning outside that you have on the treadmill.

    Love ya and can't wait to see you soon!!!

  4. VFF's aren't really running shoes or not running shoes. They're meant to act like your barefoot--so anything your foot could do or move barefoot, you do in them. Barefoot running uses different form (you use a mid-sole strike instead of a heel strike), which helps prevent injuries. I definitely am more comfortable running in them then my tennis shoes, which are fairly worn out and aren't specifically running shoes either.