I love these shoes. I love ’em so much, I have to share them with you. And, in the same vein as recommending eye exercises to rid yourself of glasses and/or contacts, I totally recommend you get yourself a pair.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit they do look a bit odd at first…
… but they feel amazing, and you get used to them really quick.
You may have heard of Vibram Five Fingers before; they’re definitely making the rounds among the kind of people who know a good thing when they see it (heck, there’s even a site completely devoted to them!). But if you haven’t, I highly encourage you to try them. Why?
Because they’re ultra-comfy.
I’ve always loved being barefoot, from being a kid at the beach to playing grass volleyball in college. I always take my shoes off indoors, and I love the warm seasons because it means I can get away with flip-flops most days. Wearing shoes is like wearing a tie; in some situations you have to do it, but if I had my druthers, those days would be few and far between.
With VFF’s, though, you can go anywhere you need to, and it feels like you’re barefoot. And because they’re so light, even after a day of walking everywhere, your feet feel great. No more tired ol’ dogs.
You feel more connected to your environment.
When I walk on any surface, I can feel it intimately. Seriously: the second day I had them we went to the movies, and I got grossed out because I could feel the stickiness of the carpet. (But, even on sharp gravel, the sole is enough to protect you from feeling any pain, so you can walk around relaxed.)
Your feet get stronger.
Think about it: for millions of years, we’ve been barefoot. How were we able to run after mastodons, trek over mountains, and still survive if we hobbled along, muttering, “Ouch! Ooch! Oaff!” every time we stepped on a rock? Because we didn’t, that’s why. When you go barefoot, your feet adapt. The ligaments, tendons, and musculature of your feet are strengthened by walking and running barefoot. It’s the wearing of shoes that weakens your feet, by doing the work that your feet should be doing for themselves.
I hike in the mountains wearing these shoes, and four days a week, I do my CrossFit workouts in them. Whether I’m Olympic lifting, sprinting, or doing any of the myriad of exercises I do in CF and the M.E.B.B. protocol I follow, I haven’t had any problems doing them in my VFF’s.
If you’re planning to run in them, I highly recommend easing into it. I started learning POSE running while wearing other shoes, and it took some time to strengthen my feet and calves to the point where I could run without a lot of soreness. When I switched over to the Five Fingers, the technique was much easier, but I was glad I had built up my strength as much as I had. And now, running in them is a joy. My feet/calves almost never get sore, and I can’t explain how great it feels to run without big, clompy shoes weighing me down.
Now, it’s not all sunshine and roses…
The only complaint I have about them is that, well, they stink. After all, I don’t wear socks with them, and after all that exercise, they can get pretty funky. I’ve scoured many online forums where people talk about them, looking for a good solution, and this is what I’ve come up with:
- Clean them after every use. It only takes a couple of minutes, and it’s well worth it.
- I spray them with Trader Joe’s Cedarwood & Sage All-Purpose Cleaner, and Earth Day Products’ “Everyday Stain & Odor Remover”, letting each one sit for a few minutes before rinsing them out and spraying the other. When the weather is warm, they’ll dry on their own pretty quickly, but in the winter, I prop them up against a fan and let them “blow dry” that way.
(If you’re a VFF wearer, and you’ve found something that cleans them well, please leave a comment and share your secret!)
They’re not for going incognito in.
The first time I got asked about my bizarre shoes was within ten minutes of buying them, and the interest hasn’t slowed much (just imagine when I get the red ones!). When people see these shoes, they almost often stare, and the more adventurous ones will strike up a conversation, asking me where I got them, what the story is behind them, and if I love them.
And of course, the answer is always yes.