Rethinking Running with Minimalist Shoes (Vibrams Product Review)
The modern Nike running shoe was invented by Bill Bowerman when he poured rubber into his waffle iron. This created the waffle sole and turned into the biggest selling running shoe in the country. The shoe now had a big rubber sole. Changing the way we interact with the ground when running.
There has been a movement of opposition against using all this padding for running. Groups of barefoot or minimalist shoe runners have popped up. I first heard about the movement in the book Born to Run.
In the book the author goes on an adventure to meet an Indian tribe in Mexico of barefoot ultra marathon runners. Along the way he meets a fellow runner named Barefoot Ted who only runs barefoot.
Barefoot running for Ted cleared up multiple recurring injuries Ted was having with sore knees and feet. If Ted wasn't barefoot running he would use Vibram Five finger shoes, which help to mimic barefoot running, but added protection on your feet so they don’t get cut.
I decided I wanted to give the Vibram Five finger shoes a try. I would have gone barefoot, but barefoot in the gym might not go over so well with other gym members.
Why I Wanted to Try Vibrams
My feet have been sore after playing basketball for as long as I can remember. My plan was to run in the Vibram Five finger shoes during the week to help toughen up my feet for basketball. I decided it wouldn’t be safe to wear those to basketball because they don’t have the extra ankle protection I need.
After doing some research on the Vibrams I came across some studies that found that some people have suffered from stress fractures. The people at Vibrams recommend easing into using their shoes. So I started with doing a half a mile walking/running and built up from there.
Wearing Vibrams in the Gym
Wearing the Vibrams in the gym was awkward at first. I stood out. Over time though I grew used to them and no one said anything to me about them. At least if people are judging me they are keeping those thoughts to themselves.
My usual gym routine consists of 20-30 mins of weights, 10 mins of running, and 10 mins of stretching. Squatting with the vibrams was great I was low to the ground and felt like I had better balance. The worry I had was dropping weight on my feet. Since I didn't have the same amount of protection as normal shoes. So I was cautious when setting down weights on the ground.
During my research I found that some studies where vibram runners suffered foot fractures more frequently than normal runners. So I made sure to ease into the vibrams by starting at small distances, slower speeds, and less running time to help prevent this.
It has been a month since I started wearing the shoes. I run 2-3 times a week in them for 10 mins. My feet look tougher and more muscular than when I started. When I run I feel new muscles in my feet and legs engaging during my run.
The results of wearing them have been positive. After playing basketball my feet are not as sore as normal.
On a day when I do run in them my feet are a little sore. The more I run though the more my feet have adapted to it.
My stride length has changed. Now I am taking shorter strides. In the book Born to Run the author suggests that many physical injuries may be caused by stride length. All the padding we have in our shoes has enabled us to take longer strides. Which may be causing injuries.
Vibrams are worth a try if you like to run, but are suffering from injuries. You should ease into your training and let the strength of your feet build up while using them so you don’t injure yourself. They are a great alternative to barefoot running and will help to fix your stride length for when you are not using them.
Here are the Vibrams I own