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Reviewing my Five Fingers and uh…Ten Toes

November 23, 2009

If you called me the impulsive sort, you might be right. I enjoy infomercials, as I’ve pointed out before. I don’t sit there with remote in one hand and credit card in the other, mind you, but I love looking out for the next “shiny object” that symbolizes the future. Case in point: I’m more excited to watch the trailers at the movie theater than the actual movie because I love to get a taste of what is to come. And sometimes when you see that shiny object, you gotta act! Anyone with me?
At the same time I enjoy researching my next object of passion. Before my last few purchases, I also sought out confirmation I was making the right choices. So far, so good. I checked out my iPod Touch thoroughly before the transaction and I still LOVE it (in fact I’m writing this post on it!). I researched P90X to ensure it was all the infomercials said it was. It is and I love seeing the results. And so it was for my latest obsession, the Vibram Five Fingers.
I saw my first pair of VFF’s a few years ago. A salesperson was wearing them while I was choosing my next running shoes and I thought they were a gimmick. It was like some sort of nightmare combining the Hobbits with Latex. All they were missing was some hair.  What the heck?! I just didn’t get it. Then fast forward to last summer when I started reading Chi Running and the method of striking midfoot as opposed to heel to toe. At the same time I was reading this book I also noticed barefoot running was gaining popularity, but the connection between the two was still flimsy for me.  I didn’t know that VFF’s were being worn by runners.
Most recently I was reading a few posts at FitBomb, a hilarious blog that combines P90X, fitness, running and comedy. FB started talking about VFF’s and it stoked some research on my part. When you wear VFF’s, you learn a new way of running similar to Chi Running. But would wearing these help my running, especially considering I wear orthotics?
Critics in favor of Barefoot Running challenge conventional wisdom and the cushioning in today’s running shoes. The cushioning in most shoes, especially motion control shoes, is supposed to help with heel to toe running. As continuous heel impact is made, research says this invariably takes it’s toll on the body and knees. Enter barefoot running (or that with VFF’s). When running without traditional shoes and cushioned heels, you learn to land on the midfoot or balls of your feet, just like Craig the Caveman used to do it. In so doing you decrease the impact on the heels and nature takes the lead, spreading impact throughout the foot. Much more research on this can be found in the book, “Born to Run” by Chris McDougall. The book follows a tribe in Mexico, who run long distances at record paces – sans shoes.

Apparently when you go the VFF method, your muscles are engaged in a new fashion. Your body adjusts to a natural methodology that incorporates calf muscles and others, helping your posture at the same time. Or so the claims I’ve read say.
Overpronaters take note: this shoe and running method may mean great things for us. One downside to being an overpronater is the heavier (and more expensive) shoe we must wear to become the runner we aspire to be. If the shoes don’t correct our issues, then orthotic inserts enter the picture, adding more dollars to the equation. The result of all these costs is to assist our lack of arch (which causes our feet to roll in as we run heel to toe). Now if you are running with VFF’s that force you to run with a midfoot strike, your foot shouldn’t roll in, right? In theory this tells me my orthotic wearing days might be over. And that is very exciting!
That is also what caused me to make the purchase. Yes, that’s right, I bought a pair of VFF KSO’s. KSO is supposed to stand for Keep Stuff Out since these have a mesh that goes from the toes to the ankle. I fully expect odd looks when I wear them out. I don’t care. But I won’t know that feeling nor any accuracy to my theories for another month since its not yet Thanksgiving and the VFF’s are a Christmas gift to myself. I’m anxious to wear them around the house, while I’m doing P90X and eventually when I’m running. In the meantime I’ll continue my research but be so very anxious to wear my Five Fingers and hope they are the solution they appear to be. I’ll also be thinking of some fun comebacks to odd looks or questions I’ll get since these “shoes” are unconventionally ugly.
If you have VFF’s and care to share comments you’ve received – let me know.  I’d love to hear them in the comments section below.  OR, if you are a runner and have had recent experiences with the VFF’s, please comment as well.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 24, 2009 1:14 pm

    Ok, that was a great post…and I literally laughed out loud at the Hobbit part, only missing the hair. Haha. Well, I never heard of these things before. Very interesting indeed. I may be doing some thinking and some research over this next year before I take up running.

    • November 24, 2009 1:57 pm

      I was breaking them in a bit last night (I cheated on the Christmas piece) and it was hilarious to see the look on my girls’ faces. They thought Daddy had been squashing grapes all day and had permanently blue feet. 🙂

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