278 of 292 people found the following review helpful
on June 29, 2009
I have always liked to run but as a middle-aged, overweight, back-pain-suffering man, I have had way too many injuries to ever get into serious running. Every time I increased my distance or started running faster, my feet came back to bite me. I have had ankle issues, plantar fasciitis and other heel related injuries causing me to move to more and more cushioned shoes with customized orthotics. But none of these helped and things kept on getting worse and worse. So much so that I seriously thought about giving up running altogether. Came a day, recently, when was 40 lbs overweight and my left knee had started to hurt. Along with that my blood pressure had gotten worse and my back pains had returned (thanks to herniated discs of a few years ago).
It was only about 6 weeks ago that I heard about Chris McDougall's book, 'Born to Run'. Reading the book exposed me to barefoot running and these wonderful VFFs. I did some Internet research and since I had nothing to lose, I decided to give them a try. I must say, that from the very first time I put these on, I fell in love with them. I wore them on and off for a couple of days in the beginning and the more I wore them, the more I liked them. Then, after a week of trying them on and walking with them in my neighborhood park, I went for my first run and my feet along with all the unused muscles in my calf ached like hell. This went on for about a week. What I did notice right away, though, was that my running form improved dramatically. I was no longer pounding the pavement (or asphalt since that is surface where I run) and my stride was much, much shorter. Also, even though I had aches in my feet and legs, nothing really hurt. The sharp pains in the knees, in the soles of my feet and the heel were nowhere to be found. By the 2nd week, I was already running with ease and comfort.
My running has improved steadily and dramatically in these last four weeks to the point that I just ran 9 miles (for the first time ever!) and had absolutely no discomfort all all. My feet feel great and strong (I can actually feels some of the muscles in there) and I have not aches and pains anywhere else (thanks perhaps to the improved running form and posture). These simple VFFs have already done for my feet what no doctor or shoe has ever done. They have made them stronger and gave them the freedom to move and support my body according to my body's own particular needs.
There is nothing really especial about me. Like I said, I am an average middle-aged male, 40-50 lbs overweight, with high blood pressure, lower back herniated discs and knee pains. Nothing about me is geared towards running and my shoes have certainly always made sure that I knew that. Running in VFFs though, on asphalt, is showing me just how wrong it all was. When you feet can move the way they need to to support your body's uniques needs, when your running form improves and you stop punishing your body with those artificially long strides, you find that your body, especially your feet and legs, get stronger very quickly. Four weeks running in VFFs and I just ran 9 miles without any ache, pain or discomfort. And I have dropped about 10 lbs.
So do go ahead and give these wonderful VFFs a try. Your feet (and your body) will truly thank you.
124 of 131 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2009
Color Name: Grey/Palm/ClaySize Name: 43 M EUVerified Purchase
I bought these shoes for my wife and I for running and other outdoor activities because I naturally run up on my forefoot and I hate wearing shoes with all the extra padding that only adds bulk. We have had them for several months now and I no longer get shin splints when I run and find that I like walking around barefoot (real barefoot) much more now. Go easy when you start running in them though as you will get very sore because you will use many new muscles. Your calves will get especially sore but they will also look much sexier after you spend a few months running in these "shoes."
246 of 301 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2010
Color Name: Black/BlackSize Name: 42 M EU
When I first bought these shoes, I loved them. I wore the KSO, and gradually built up to daily use, including a twice a week 4 mile run. The other days of the week, I ran in regular shoes and increased my speed or distance to accommodate. The KSOs were fun! They made simply walking to the store feel like I was playing. Yep,I felt like a barefoot kid again. Then I bought the KSO treks. I wore them for about a week and then I went on a short hike in them. I often hike all day in regular shoes, but in these, I walked for 45 minutes on a fairly easy Colorado trail. I loved the feel of them when hiking. I could use my toes to grab onto rocks and in softer terrain (like sand and mud) and I could ford streams without worry. But a few days later, I started to develop back and knee pain. I was certain it could not be the shoes. I alternated, as usual, but kept wearing them. At this point, I have been out of commission for two weeks with debilitating back pain. Podiatrist diagnosis? Bad shoes. Or rather, shoes not meant for my particular body. The doctor recommended that, if I wanted to wear these shoes, I should wear them only for Yoga and walking on a flat trail--not running, not hiking.
I have no doubt that some people can wear these shoes without worry. But I--a competitive athlete from the age of 10--can't. At least, not for running and hiking. My guess is, there are others out there like me. So I'd say--enjoy the shoes, but wear them with caution. If you can get a video treadmill analysis of your stride in the shoes beforehand, that would be ideal.
There is the argument that my stride has been "damaged" by years of shoe wear and running in high-heeled Nikes and the like. These folks argue that 5fingers will correct that stride. But that argument breaks down when one considers I was competitive in martial arts, worked out 18 hours a day, and spent all those days barefoot. My primary training has been done barefooted--and my strength has been developed in that manner. But my stride in running and hiking is not one that lends to going barefoot in that specific activity. Know your needs, and then buy, or don't buy, this shoe.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2011
I haven't used my KSOs for running so much, but they've made great everyday shoes. Very comfortable! I won't go into detail about what makes these shoes great, though, as there are plenty of other reviews for that.
I'd just like to offer some advice for those who don't have the option of trying them on in person, and so must try to figure out the right size to order online. I really wanted to try these on in a store before buying, but every place nearby that had them was sold out of the sizes the sizing instructions suggested would fit me best. I ended up ordering three pairs online before finding a good fit, so I'll be glad if I can save anyone else the hassle I had to deal with.
First of all, when you go by the measuring instructions of using a ruler and your feet against a wall, make sure to stretch your toes out as far as you can, while still keeping your heel touching the wall, before taking the measurement. The first mistake I made was taking the measurement of my toes in a relaxed rather than stretched out position, leading to an inaccurate measurement.
As the official measuring instructions suggest, you'll want to go by the measurement of the longest toe on the biggest foot(if one of your feet is a bit bigger than the other). But be warned that the sizing typically runs small. Based on the sizing chart, a size 40 should have fit me perfectly, but I found it to be too small. I was worried that a size 41 would be too big, but once I tried it on I was afraid that it also felt too small. I stuck with 41, though, and after a little breaking in I've found it to actually be the perfect fit for me.
An important thing to remember about these shoes is that it's OK for them to feel a bit small at first, as they will stretch out to fit you more comfortably after you've been wearing them a week or two. A snug fit is good, but you'll know your size is too small if any of your toes are so scrunched in that you have difficulty stretching them out fully, or if when you put on your Vibrams it feels like circulation is practically being cut off from your foot.
To sum it all up, in order to find the right size of FiveFingers for you, I suggest you measure your feet carefully as per the sizing instructions, go a size bigger than you think you'll need if you're at all close to a "perfect" fit of a certain size, and give the shoes a little time to stretch out for a more comfortable fit. Good luck!
35 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2010
Color Name: Black/BlackSize Name: 43 M EUVerified Purchase
I have to admit the first time I saw my old roommate with these shoes that he'd gone and lost his mind, but curiosity got the better of me and several months later I bought my own pair. Since purchasing my Five Fingers I have done everything from swimming to yoga, to weight training to running and true to their word my legs and lower back have gotten stronger and my posture has improved! I highly recommend these shoes to anyone who lives an active lifestyle with a variety of interests. As a single man they also make a great conversation starter at the beach!
35 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2010
I have been researching barefoot running for awhile and recently read the book Born to Run. I purchased the VFF and I am very pleased with them. Prior to these shoes I have purchased almost every brand of shoe and inserts as well. I have always had arch and knee issues. Since I have started running in the VFF my knee issues are GONE! No arch issues as well. I wish I had discovered these earlier. It would have saved me so much money and pain as well.
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on September 23, 2010
Color Name: Black/Grey CamoSize Name: 46 M EUVerified Purchase
For all my pedestrian life, shoe manufacturers have been working on the assumption that the human foot is a faulty design. Shoe-engineering has always clamored for More Support, More Support, making the "platform" stiffer and the heel wider, and always vacillating between heavier construction but lighter materials. Podiatrists have made comfortable fortunes by prescribing uncomfortable arch supports, and more and more people have found themselves lifetime committed to wearing orthotics.
Vibram Five Toe shoes are based on the assumption that "evolution got it right", that the human foot does its job quite well if it is allowed to flex and grip as it is 'built' to do. The toes are fitted independently, like fingers in gloves, and the sole is merely a tough membrane like the calluses that form naturally on the feet of barefoot peasants around the world. The construction is as light as a hiking sock or a moccasin. The shoes are intended, I suppose, to be worn without socks, but I prefer to wear the lightest Injinji five-toe socks in them. It was the Injinji socks that I wore inside my stiff heavy old hiking boots, on a 20-mile hike, that persuaded me to try these Vibrams. No hot spots, no toenail problems, and my "dogs" weren't barking at the end of the day.
Personally, I confess that I've been more concerned all my life with the durability of my running and hiking shoes than with the durability of my feet. In my sixties, that 'concern' has proven to be misplaced. My sturdiest Vasques boots are still in good shape but my feet have been showing signs of wear and tear. So, I thought, why not try the Vibram shoes, since the Injinji socks seem worthwhile? Besides, if they don't work for walking and running, surely they'll make excellent kayak/beach shoes.
Putting the five-toe shoes on for the first time isn't an encouraging experience. They don't 'fit' until they've been worn to the shape of YOUR feet. They're tricky to get over your toes properly for the first six or eight times, and it's hard to believe the your heels will enjoy the pounding on cement sidewalks or rocky trails. I've been wearing my first pair for all outdoor activities now for about two weeks, and I love them! Light, cool, free-feeling, and I don't seem to be having any problem with jarring on hard pavements. They look somewhat funky with a tuxedo, I have to acknowledge, and on the street people will gawk at your pedal extremities rather than your ample forehead or bosom. Hey, that's not such a bad thing in itself!
I can't yet declare that my overall 'foot health' will permanently improve from wearing Vibrams. Also, I doubt that they will survive as long as a pair of indestructible Vasques; the soles are thin by design and will wear through. But the price isn't so high, even if you replace them twice a year, in comparison to the potential benefits of accepting the wisdom of Evolution and letting your feet do the job they did for your genetic ancestors over the past four million years or so.
30 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2009
After reviewing the size chart on Vibram's website, I went to the local store prepared to purchase. When I told him what size Vibram recommended, he smirked in disbelief. I tried on the Vibram's Web recommended size and then tried what the salesman recommended. Sure enough, Vibram's recommendation felt a bit small to me. Even though a size bigger had a little breathing room, I found it to be a little more comfortable. In addition, consideration of the activity the FiveFingers will be used for should have great precedence. I'm not running, distance or otherwise, in them so extra room isn't a problem. This is an item I would recommend finding locally and trying on before ordering. Your preferred fit may differ from mine. I'm eager to hear other opinions.
Aside from sizing, I love the product. I've never owned any toe separating footwear but wasn't/am not deterred by the Vibram design one bit. They are quite comfortable just wearing around, indoors and out. I will add more info about how they do on the Hawaii shores when I take them out. The original reason I purchased these was for use as reef shoes; fishing and recreation. The KSO's design that covers the top of the foot is expected to keep sand out, at least more than the Sprint. I'll let you know.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2011
I got these shoes for Cross Country and I love them! My first practice is today and I'm looking forward to it.
However good Vibram says they are, there is something they don't tell directly. They will make you VERY SORE for AT LEAST a week and possibly up to 2. That's why I give them 4 stars. You need to have Perseverance and Dedication in revising your running style. I would say these are 5 stars for me though. The idea behind the shoes is to create a more natural running feel. With 'Normal' shoes, your running stride goes- Heel strikes 1st. The rest of your foot then rolls as you move forward and you push off of your toes.- With these shoes, if you repeatedly strike your heel with no cushioning (Because there is none in these shoes) you will injure your foot and heel in particular. You have to do what is called Forefoot Running. That is, running on your toes the whole time. That works your calf muscles totally different and will make them very sore, but stronger in the long run (No pun intended.) If you do get these shoes, do NOT run more than 10 minutes a day for at least 5 days and then increase your running time as you get stronger.
Now some Pros-
Running on off-road terrain like grass or dirt feels amazing! You can feel every little texture of the ground and I love that! Also the thin sole bends very easily so it will mold with the terrain (including rocks)
They look awesome! A lot of my friends say they look really cool. (My mom thinks they're ugly though =D)They can make you feel special.
Another thing about the Dedication aspect is Don't get frustrated putting them on the first time. It will take at least 5 minutes the first time because your toes have never had to spread apart before. To make things easier, buy a pair of Injinji Toe socks. They help tremendously with putting on and with blister prevention. One last thing, before you buy, ask yourself two questions:
#1 Can I persevere in changing my running?
#2 Am I prepared to handle the soreness of changing my running style?
If you say NO to either of the above questions, the shoes are probably not for you. If YES, go for it and good running!
23 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2009
As far as I know, there is no other shoe on the market that so closely mimics the effect and benefits of barefoot walking/running as the Vibrams. This is due to the extremely minimal design of simply encasing the feet in an extremely flexible and durable rubber while allowing the toes to sit separately instead of getting scrunched together as happens in most shoes...this allows the toes to stretch and grip the ground when walking or climbing, and when running the toes would be slightly pulled upwards (dorsiflexion) while the entire foot is allowed to stretch fully and completely, which doesn't happen in most shoes.
Runningbarefoot dot org is one excellent source of information on the growing trend of barefoot running, which is somewhat related to minimalist shoes which are favored by runners seeking a gentler, more biomechanically efficient way of running less prone to injuries than the traditional heel-striking, bone-jarring "power-running" that most traditional running shoes tend to encourage. Barefooting can be used in lieu of shoes altogether, or to complement shod running---it basically forces you to learn correct form and equally important, strengthens the muscles in the feet and calves which protects against injury in the long term.
I use my Vibrams when running on treadmills and for those times when I'm somewhere that I can't find any safe clean asphalt or concrete roads to run barefoot on. They are also very comfortable to wear just walking around the house, grocery shopping, etc.---it's good to spend a few days wearing them if you've never barefoot run before and want to start.
CAUTION: When running outside with them, be sure to run a lot more slowly (you should be taking far softer steps than usual) and shorter distance than you would when wearing normal shoes. The first time I used them outside, I ran 2 miles at a 10:30 pace ... my normal moderate run would be about 6 miles at a 7:30-8:00 minute-per-mile pace ... and afterwards, my calves and Achilles tendons were sore for a good 4 days, as if I'd just run a marathon! So they are a really unparalleled muscle-conditioning tool.
PS. Also, I have to agree with the previous reviewer that it's best to go size these out in a store rather than ordering them sight unseen.