Barefooters: How do you like it?

I'm seeing more and more people running barefoot. I was looking at the Vibram FiveFingers shoes online and I just wanted to know how people who run barefoot like it? Is it better for your feet? Doesn't it hurt your feet? I thought that shoes with good soles were required to minimize the shock when your foot hit the ground/pavement. Wouldn't wearing something this thin cause too much shock to the feet? This is interesting so I just wanted to hear your opinions on it.

:huh:

Replies

  • summertime_girl
    summertime_girl Posts: 3,945 Member
    It's a very gradual process. I just moved from Asics running shoes to a Newton Running shoe, which simulates the barefoot run, but still has cushion in the forefoot so that you have the time to adjust. My next pair will probably be the FiveFingers. But you can't go right from a regular shoe to a barefoot without risking injury. It also really depends on how your form is when you run. Runners who strike with their heels will have a very hard time, and likely injury, if they switch to a barefoot without adjusting their posture.
  • aippolito1
    aippolito1 Posts: 4,894 Member
    It's definitely very gradual. I don't run barefoot now but I was starting to last summer - I only officially ran outside barefoot once and then I fell off the exercise wagon. I'm sad I didn't keep up with it. But I will tell you this. That couple minutes I was outside barefoot... my feet felt AMAZING. I wanted to run forever!! I was following runnersworld.com's guide to barefoot running. You start running a little bit every other day. First outside in your socks for a couple weeks... you run in place (to focus on form) on carpet... not sure of the order, I don't remember, then you do a little at a time outside. I just wish I kept it up 'cause I could have been enjoying barefoot runs right now!
  • TinaDay1114
    TinaDay1114 Posts: 1,328 Member
    I just got a pair of Vibrams last week after trying a (loaner) pair from a friend of mine. I do like them, and I've done about three 3-4 mile runs in them so far. I find them very comfortable, and I find that I strike more on the middle and ball of my foot when using them, just because of their design.

    One word of caution -- don't transition from regular shoes to just Vibrams right away. In fact, I got a little overconfident in mine this weekend and did an 8 mile run in them this morning. Now my heel hurts, which could be because I put too many miles on them too quickly.

    I have also heard others say that the comfort of them depends on your foot -- specifically your toes. Folks with long 2nd toes (the toe next to the big toe) say they find them uncomfortable because that toe rubs the tip of the shoe too much.

    Also make sure if you are going to use them for running that you get one of the models that is good for running (they usually specify on the websites, and stores can tell you). Some are more for hiking and trail walking, and are designed a little differently.
  • teeby21
    teeby21 Posts: 15
    Yeah i heard this too. Watched a program on discovery the other day and they had found a tribe in South America that run on barefoot for days on end. Scientifically they proved it was better to run barefoot because of how differently your foot strikes the floor and how heavily you tread when your running with regular shoes/trainers. So apparently because your lighter on your feet it prolongs your stamina. Don't know how true it is though. Will have to check it out !!
  • wbond
    wbond Posts: 363 Member
    I run and do my Insanity/P90X in my FiveFingers and love it. I feel I have more balance and control in them. Like most have said, if you transition to FiveFingers, go slowly and progress to an everyday wear gradually.
  • meggers123
    meggers123 Posts: 711 Member
    I have two pairs of Vibrams and I love them for running/working out.

    I used to run, but had taken about 4 years off. When I started up again at the beginning of June, I only used my vibrams. I think being so out of practice was good, because switching to a non-heel strike form was easy for me.
    I've also had issues with my left knee, and I haven't had any knee problems going 3-5 days a week in the vibrams. That being said, my calves will sometimes ache, making me take a few days off, since you build up your muscles a lot more quickly, and you're actually streching the achilles tendon more by using this mid-front foot strike form.

    When I'm on my "break" days (resting), I'll wear regular sneakers walking, but my vibrams are it for: running, 30 DS, pilates... LOVE them.

    You should definitely try them on before you buy any.. I love some styles (sprints, bikilas) and hate others. And do your own research on gradually starting barefoot running. There are some awesome sites (google "barefoot run" cause we can't post sites on here).

    Good Luck whatever you choose.
  • methetree
    methetree Posts: 381
    I do everything in my vibrams. Last year when I moved to AZ I unloaded my truck in my vibrams and didn't have one back problem!

    I exercise in them too. If I am not in my five fingers, I am barefoot. Once in awhile you'll catch me in flip flops, but not very often.

    Running in the five fingers is heaven. I wouldn't run otherwise.. and I don't run a lot. Take the advice from the person who said google Barefoot running. Lots of excellent information out there!
  • TinaDay1114
    TinaDay1114 Posts: 1,328 Member
    I have avascular necrosis is my left knee, and I haven't had any knee problems going 3-5 days a week in the vibrams. That being said, my calves will sometimes ache, making me take a few days off, since you build up your muscles a lot more quickly, and you're actually streching the achilles tendon more by using this mid-front foot strike form.

    Meggers123,
    Have you had any achilles tendon pain before? I feel like I did too much in mine today, and am having pain there. Just wondering if that's something that I can get rid of w/some more rest/stretching, and some more time getting used to the Vibrams...

    Anyone else have advice/opinions?
  • meggers123
    meggers123 Posts: 711 Member

    Meggers123,
    Have you had any achilles tendon pain before? I feel like I did too much in mine today, and am having pain there. Just wondering if that's something that I can get rid of w/some more rest/stretching, and some more time getting used to the Vibrams...

    Anyone else have advice/opinions?


    I haven't had any achilles tendon pain, but when I was researching them in the beginning they say it's common, but you should definitely rest if you do.

    I do get really sore calves, but I've also put on a ton of muscle there in the last month, and am doing the 30DS too (with jumpropes and butt-kicks) so it's no surprise. When I go long (an hour) I've had a bit of tenderness at the front of my foot (where it strikes), but nothing that doesn't go away with a good ice-ing.

    I'd recommend: good, long stretching. I usually stretch before my warm up. Then, after a 3-4 minute warm up, I stretch again on a park bench or anything I come across. I find it really helps to do a "cold" and a "warm" stretch. And a cool down stretch.. clearly, I stretch a lot.

    I've hiked/walked in Vibrams since Dec. and ran in them since June, and I definitely feel like I'm still adjusting. These things take time, I suppose :smile:
  • natskedat
    natskedat Posts: 570 Member
    I ran in Asics for about 10 years before I made the switch to Vibrams a few months ago. I like them a lot. I switched because I was getting bored with running (I've been doing it for 30 years). Running barefoot completely changed the experience for me. I can feel the surface, and I like that. I ran my first 10K in them yesterday, which was completely on pavement, and the difference in the feel of the race was staggering. Here is how to avoid injury:

    1. Cut your mileage. Run shorter distances for several weeks to allow your feet, calves, and shins to remember how to absorb shock. Your feet can absorb a remarkable amount of shock, but cushioned shoes have caused your shock-absorbing capabilities to atrophy. You must work to get them back gradually. You're developing muscles in your feet just like in weight lifting. You don't go from a 10 lb. barbell to a 40 lb. barbell in a week. Neither should you expect such increases in strength from your feet.

    2. Run on soft surfaces. As you begin running barefoot, help your body adapt to your new stride and new demands by running on soft surfaces like grass or sand. You'll minimize shock while maximizing your lower body's muscle building potential. Running on soft surfaces places demands on your major muscle groups and small stabilizers that will help prevent injury when you move to harder surfaces.

    3. Patience. Learn about appropriate stride, the best shoe for your foot, and other's experiences with minimalist shoes. I read about injuries with these shoes nearly every day, and the one commonality among all of these injuries is the absence of adaptation time. You'll be relearning how to run, and that's not going to happen overnight. In a recent article in Runner's World, I read of an elite 5k runner who took ONE FULL YEAR to redevelop her stride. One year! It's not going to happen overnight, but it will happen.

    Thus far, I've avoided injury by adhering to those rules. After running 6 miles on pavement yesterday, my calves and the muscles in my feet are really sore, and they're muscles that I didn't use in traditional cushioned shoes. I'm taking a day or two off to recover and adapt. The experience of running in those shoes felt freeing.

    Good luck!
  • Summertime girl is exactly right that it should be treated, most responsibly, as a gradual process. In the interest of objectivity about the VFF products, I have talked to just as many people who get hurt using that product as I have with people who truly enjoy them and feel benefited by them. That aside, the VFF product (and any other barefoot style products - Merrill Trail Glove, New Balance Minimus Trail etc.) are not engineered to address a runner's biomechanics (pronation tendencies). The advice associated with good form suggests to strike under your hips to encourage a midfoot strike and I'm a believer in this advice to help disperse the impact load as evenly as possible throughout the lower extremities. However, this is not, in my opinion, a substitute for proper analysis of pronation for the purpose of finding appropriate running footwear. After proper analysis, VFF could certainly be an appropriate option but I look at the product more as a tool in the kit rather than a primary training tool. At the same time, I am not a believer that traditional running shoes have ruined our feet and made us weak and more prone to injury... that is silly. If a person's goal is to make a lifestyle of running... my advice for that person is to find the solution that most effectively accomplishes that goal whether it's traditional running shoes, barefoot, a combo of both, orthotics etc. Happy running!
  • jessilee119
    jessilee119 Posts: 444 Member
    Thank you all for your input. I really would like to start running so that eventually I can complete a 5k and see what else I'll be able to do in the future. Right now, I do the Elliptical and Tae Bo but I've been thinking about other exercises and cardio that I can add to my routine. I've always believed that variety is a good way to get fit and not lose motivation from always doing the same things.