Why Vibram Fivefingers?
Those Weird Looking Toe Shoes?
It always makes me smile when people use yes ‘that phrase’. I can’t help myself and without know it I’m interjecting in defence as if defending a family member. The question I always throw back is ‘What looks weirder, a glove or a mitten?’...........Ah and then the
penny drops. I then add in ‘if I was to offer you a mitten. It’s designed to squash your fingers together but this is to keep your fingers warmer. Would you buy them?’ Of course, the answer is always as you would expect ‘No’. Can you see my point yet?
I have many bones of contention with what the industry call conventional running shoes but absolutely the most glaringly obvious mis-demeanour is the shape. Yes let that sink in. The shape. What shape is your foot? Does your foot taper in from both sides? Does it culminate with a longer toe down the centre? I’m guessing not? (Apologies for any offense if it does) Which shoes look weird now? Ones which mirror your foot or ones which dress them up to not even resemble a foot shape?
My next question then...... Why? Surely at best it makes sense to make a shoe designed for sport to at the very least resembles a foot, after all they want us to spend a lot of time hitting the tarmac, trails, gym floor or hills in these bad boys (no apologies for that phrase). My best guess is it’s a cocoon that is intended to stop the foot spreading and moving around and to collectively support the collection of tarsals, metatarsals, joints, ligaments and tendons from the forces that the act of running sends through the feet ? Hmmm. In effect stopping the feet from acting naturally and adapting. It’s a sorry state we find ourselves in yes? These amazing tools of human design, built for a purpose and we look at ways to stop them doing what evolution built them to do so well. There is a saying use it or lose it? The most obvious example of this is if you or someone you know suffers the misfortune of breaking a leg. The cast which has a very specific job to keep the bone set in place and prevent movement of muscles as much as possible until the bone has time to heal. Remove the cast weeks later and what has happened to the muscle? Yes, it has atrophied and you find yourself with one thin leg and one of normal proportion. Take this same principal to your feet. Every time you fasten your shoes which in effect are cast for your feet.The human foot and ankle is a strong and complex mechanical structure containing 26 bones, 33 joints and more than a hundred muscles, tendons, and ligaments. What effects are we having on how these work by negating their function? I have to point out here that I am not a medical professional but it seems to me to be glaringly obvious. For the health of your feet. Let them walk, let them run and set them free in all their glory.
Bearing in mind all the above it is safe to assume we western shoe wearing humans will all have differing but collective weaknesses in our feet. As we should do with all weaknesses before we exert to much stress is work on strengthening. This is where I urge caution when wearing shoes that free your feet. Take it steady. Wear them to walk in only for the first couple of weeks then gently introduce them into different activities and longer periods. Take note of the instant synaptic responses you get and you will in no time start to feel the benefits of strengthening your body’s foundations.
Your glorious feet.
By Dan Hume - Vibram Fivefingers wearer and Barefoot Junkie