It is no secret that women tend to love shoes. However, while most women love their Jimmy Choo’s or six-inch stilettos. I have a different kind of love affair. I have fallen in love with the Vibram Five Fingers aka Toe Shoes. Yes. Yes I have. I bought my first pair in March of 2010. I am now the proud owner of five pairs. So this post is to sum up what I think about them.
1. Do you feel the material between your toes?
I honestly do not feel anything between my toes. Now when I had toe socks, I could feel the cotton, the cotton was thick. These do not feel like the toe socks at all.
2. Are they comfortable?
Yes!!! I cannot express this enough. These shoes are so very comfortable. I will add that I love to be barefoot; I would naturally gravitate to something like this. Since I have originally broken them in and found the right tightness to the straps, I have not had any comfort issues.
3. What are the benefits?
I can only speak for myself here, but this is what has changed since I have started working out in them.
A. Arches. I used to have to wear arch supports (since High School) because my arches were falling due to the reliance on the tennis shoes for support. I have since stopped wearing using the arch supports. I also noticed that my arches have not cramped for well over a year and are no longer tender or sore.
B. Feet. As weird as it sounds you can tell the muscles in my feet have developed. My feet actually look ‘slimmer.’ When I wear flip flops, you can actually see some of the muscles move. I also noticed that the fit of my cowboy boots is not the same, which means my feet have actually shrunk. I’m not complaining.
C. Ankles. I have two of the worst ankles. Ever. All I have to do is think about twisting an ankle and it hurts (OK, a bit dramatic I know). But in all seriousness, my ankles have always hurt and cracked. It was so bad at one point people in my office could tell when I was coming because they could hear my ankles. Today. I can’t even make my ankles crack. My muscles around my ankle have tighten up and provide more stability. I don’t have near the pain with them that I previously had while doing physical activity.
D. Calves. Dear All Things Good, my calves are the most defined they have ever been. EVER. When running in the Five Fingers it forces you to run naturally. This was something I never did, I am a heel striker. By running naturally you use more of your calf and boy can you tell. I can even tell from my Jazzercise workouts when we do a lot of calf work, my calves just burn. The workout they get is far greater than doing calf raises (in my opinion). The burning in my calves is extremely welcomed, don't get me wrong.
E. Hips & Back. My hips and back have always caused me a lot of pain. I remember the first time I ran in Sprints, I was so scared of how bad my body would hurt because there is no ‘cushion’ on the sole. I ended up running five miles that morning without any soreness or pain. I ended up having nothing to fear. I have not had hip or back trouble while running in the past year or so of running. Additionally, I’ll add in that I have ran in tennis shoes since buying these and my body ached and hurt so badly, that I knew for as long as I was running low mileage, these would be my shoe of choice.
F. Balance. Due to the toes being spread out and not smashed into a shoe, your balance increases drastically. My balance was so bad that even Wii Fit called me out and said that I needed to "work on my balance." Yes it was a low point in my life. I've noticed in both Jazzercise and Yoga that I can stand on one foot and do certain moves and I don't fall over. Which is a plus.
G. They look weird. They do. Get of it. I smile when people complain how badly their feet hurt after working out/running. It gives me a little bit self satisfaction knowing that I probably won't feel that pain again. Once you put them on and feel how comfortable they are, you won’t care how ugly they are. And every season they are getting brighter and prettier colors. My original pair were black. That was the best color to choose at the time and it was ugly.
The discussion points above have all helped in completely rejuvenated my running. For the first time in my life, I can honestly say I run pain free and I actually look forward to running. That to me, is priceless. This has been pivotal on my fitness journey.
Again, these are the results that I have seen in myself. They may or may not work for you. This is only what they have done for me. I’ve also been wearing them for 14 months almost daily.
4. What do you use them for?
Well I have one pair for Jazzercise. One pair for yoga/Pilates. One pair for outdoor running (I run trails, pavement, gravel.) Then I have one pair to go outside in and play in. These are great to wear in creeks or other water activities where you don't want you feet to touch things. The original black pair I bought are about on their last leg (ha ha) but for now I wear them for times when I do not want to ruin the other pairs. I love to lift in them as well. Yes when I wear them I feel more connected to the earth.
5. Do they smell?
Ha. Yes. But a great thing about them is you can wash them as often as needed. So I wash mine at least once a week in the washer. Just don’t put them in the dryer, they must be air dried. That takes care of the smell.
6. Are they really expensive?
This is always relative. I mean, I’ve bought sneakers for 115 bucks. Last week I bought two pair for $119. Now that I know my size, I can order them on-line and I tend to buy ones that are on sale from last season. Now depending on what you want your Five Fingers for you can pay between $80 to $100 for a new pair. For me, they do last just as long as shoes would with regular use. So I have no complaints. They can be tried on at Elite Runners & Walkers or the two REI locations (Settler’s Ridge & South Side Works).
So that’s my deal. Let me know if you want me to talk about any other aspect of them. Like I said, I am in love with these shoes. I won't work out in tennis shoes for a very long time. These are just too amazing to me.
**As always, consult a physician prior to starting a workout program.**
Take it easy.