Vibram Five Fingers

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…

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/7920232[/vimeo]

… 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.

Comments

  1. Justin says

    Great review, Adam! And thanks for the shout-out. I’ll be picking this up on the “latest reviews” (it’ll show up Sunday) on birthdayshoes.

    As for your VFF stank question, you’re certainly not alone and there are a number of solutions people have implemented to counter this odor problem — most of which are in this thread:

    http://birthdayshoes.com/forum/index.php?topic=20.0

    Nice dead lift vid, too –

  2. Adam says

    Thanks, Justin – so far, the two products I use are keeping it pretty much in check… which, by the way, I got the idea for those from your forum! I did just recheck it, though, and there are some good suggestions I’ll try (e.g. baking soda & peroxide).

    And you’re welcome for the shout-out; your site is the definitive everything for VFF’s, as far as I’m concerned.

    (oh, re: the deadlift videos – I had a fellow trainer check out my deadlift form for me, using the first video; the second one is after corrections were made. It sure did help to have another set of eyes!)

  3. Justin says

    Ha well that’s great! Glad the forum is useful. I’d eventually like to move some of the stank solutions into the wiki so as to be a bit more useful, but who has the time?

  4. Melanie says

    okay, I don’t have time to wash my two pairs since I wear them everyday! I am a seasoned mother of three so I have dealt with all sorts of odors on couches and car seats! My favorite odor eliminator has always been febreeze for items that are not fun to wash. I happen to LOVE my five fingers and am frankly afraid of washing them to death, so I have been spraying them with febreeze. Even so after wearing them all day they’re ripe again, but at least I feel like I’ve started the day fresh!!

  5. Mark Griffith says

    KSO in black. I do but not as often as I should. I mix up my footware – vff, trail running shoes, samba k's, and regular sneaks. (Constantly varied, right?) lol

  6. Adam says

    Hi Melanie,

    Thanks for commenting; Febreeze, huh? I haven’t tried it yet…

    I did the baking soda/peroxide treatment this morning; we’ll see what happens!

    Oh, and the balloon-hat-wearing Mongolian is my default gravatar, in case folks don’t have one. :)

  7. Adam Kayce says

    'zactly. Although since starting to CF in my VFF's, I haven't gone back to my Sambas… one of these days, I will, I suppose; I just really like the barefoot feel (and the strength/stability benefits).

  8. Sarah Keeley says

    might have to get some of these for shawn for christmas…they are right up his alley. i have arch issues…i wonder if the would be good for my feet or not so much. I guess the term for what i do is "overpronte". hmmm…..

  9. Adam Kayce says

    Right on – I bet Shawn would love 'em. Make sure he gets to try them on first, though… I hear sizes can vary, and if you've got long toes, you'll need to play around with it a bit.Re: arch issues – from what I've heard, they will help, although it takes a while to build up the strength in your feet. But it's well worth it.

  10. Sanna says

    Interesting blog… I’m not even sure how I got here, but I did – and I read your blog and found it to be something different…

    I’ve never seen these shoes before – I’ll have to keep an eye out for them. I know someone that I think would love them.

    Anyway – thanks for posting. If you have time, I invite you to read my blog at http://www.sannaleeconsulting.blogspot.com – my latest post is regarding the Mac vs. PC debate. ;)

  11. samuel says

    I found that detergent and toothbrush will clean them well for me.. I saw a video about washing the vffs here. [LINK REMOVED]

    Editor’s note: I removed the link, because the video really had very little to do about washing VFF’s, and I’m getting reports that this is actually a spam site. Correct me if I’m wrong, but…

  12. rebecca says

    Thanks for your advise on not letting your FiveFingers get smelly! i’ve had this problem but i’ll be trying out some of the suggestions here! :-)

    • Adam says

      You’re welcome, Rebecca… I’m finding that the baking soda & peroxide treatment does the job just as well as the sprays I was trying. I’ll probably end up using up all the products I have, and then just go with the simplest/cheapest/most-enviro-friendly option.