Looking at our anatomical evolution, Vibrams’ FiveFinger shoes take us on a running lesson.
I’ve had all summer to get acquainted with the Vibrams, and quite honestly, it pretty much changed my whole concept, physically as well as mentally, of running. I run, weight lift, and do everything in these shoes; I even went hiking through the Mexican rainforest with the fiancé– bouldering, swimming, spelunking– through the mountains.
But I constantly receive the same questions about the shoes regarding their effectiveness and overall benefits. If not questions, the same facial expressions displaying the same sentiments as the title of this post.
Sure, they’re not the most aesthetically pleasing choice of footwear, but what can be described best as protective gloves for your feet, are Vibrams’ FiveFinger shoe. Making the list as one of Time Magazine’s best inventions in 2007, Vibram creates shoes for activities such as running, yoga, hiking, water sports, cross-training, and everyday normal use.
So what’s all the hype about?
Progressively becoming more common amongst runners, the barefoot running trend has existed roughly for the past decade. Enthusiasts can be seen running streets, paths, and finishing marathons with absolutely nothing on their feet.
Vibrams’ FiveFinger acts as a protective shell around your feet while still giving the needed protection from terrain without having to develop callouses actual barefoot runners obtain from training.
Skeptics commonly criticize by asking, how can running barefoot, without arch support, without cushioning, without ankle support, be good for you? But keeping in mind that, tennis shoes were not created until the 1970′s and thousand-dollar orthotics were not a primary concern of our homo-sapien ancestors, our anatomy is evidence that our bodies were designed to not wear any shoes at all.
A sales representative at the Fleet Feet running store and proponent of barefoot running, demonstrated his concerns against common issues regarding running in normal shoes.
“Stand straight up and jump directly on your heel, and feel the strain on your body,” he said. “Now jump and land on your fore foot. That’s the natural way our bodies absorb and transfer energy. That’s the way we were made to run.”
Due to the conventional design of the standard tennis shoe, studies have shown that about 75 to 80 percent of runners that wear tennis shoes land heel first. Some would argue the impact from landing directly on your heel is the cause for most knee and back injuries.
The human foot contains 26 bones, 33 joints, 20 muscles and hundreds of sensory receptors, tendons, and ligaments. For this very reason, Vibram says their shoes utilize the body’s natural body mechanics, resulting in a number of positive health benefits:
1. Strengthens Muscles in the feet to reduce injury
2. Promotes natural and free movement of foot and toes
3. Stimulates the neural receptors in the fee t to increase balance.
4. Uses the natural alignment level of the foot to improve posture
“It may take some getting used to, because most people have become accustomed to not running the way the body is built to run,” The Fleet Feet rep said. “But eventually you’ll feel the difference in everything from your lower back to the very tip of your toes.”
For those willing to give barefoot running a try, Vibram recommends a specified transition period. For full details explained on there website, http://www.vibramfivefingers.com.
So is it time to toss those old tennis shoes in the trash and switch to barefoot running? Who knows, maybe after giving into the hype of Vibram FiveFinger shoes, you’ll never go running back.