Vibram FiveFingers for running.

I am a runner, primarily distances of 5 miles+ per session. I currently use the Asics Kayano shoe for this purpose when I am on pavement which I am pleased with. I switch it up to the UA Horizon RTT for trail running, which is another activity I enjoy.

That said, I have ran into a quite large number of people lately that swear by Vibram's offerings for running shoes. Reviews online are either fanboys or people who think they absolutley suck, with not much in between. Not to mention, reviews on Amazon are highly suspect these days just in general. Anyone have experience with these running shoes? They are kind of expensive just to try out for the hell of it.


  • timtam163
    timtam163 Posts: 500 Member
    You know your feet better than anyone. I personally hated minimalist shoes; I suspect it's because I was blessed with a bone alignment that causes over-pronation. If you don't have this problem, and are willing to build up your barefoot running slowly, they might work for you. I also suspect that they're better for trails since pavement is very unforgiving.

    And I mean 40-60% of ultra-runners run in "maximalist" shoes these days ( so explore all your options out there. You may need different amounts of cushioning for different types of running.
  • MeanderingMammal
    MeanderingMammal Posts: 7,866 Member
    edited August 2017
    There are a lot of "barefoot zealots" out there.

    When you're looking at shoe design there are two main aspects that play in to this debate; heel/ toe drop and stack height. Vibrams have a zero drop and minimal stack height, so provide negligible protection. Altras have zero drop but a significant stack height so quite a lot of cushioning.

    Personally as an ultra runner I prefer a low drop 4mm with a moderate stack height, and for trails a well developed tread. I run exclusively in Inov-8; Race Ultra, Trail Talon, MudClaw, TrailRoc and RoadClaw depending on the terrain.

    The benefit of a low drop for me is good ground feel, but the drawback is much more stress on the achilles. The latter point is one that I have to be cautious of, particularly if I'm doing a lot of climbing as well.

    Vibrams can encourage a forefoot strike, which can be helpful for some people. I have seen studies that suggest the enforced change in footstrike can lead to different injury risk, rather than reduced risk.

    There is no one correct answer, it's very much down to your gait and running preferences. Personally they're not for me, and they're not the magic bullet that the fanbois would suggest.
  • lemmie177
    lemmie177 Posts: 479 Member
    It's less about vibrams specifically, and more about whether you want to take on barefoot running. Water shoes are a cheap option if you just want to try out something minimalist.

    I have a pair, though I don't consider myself a runner. Have to say they feel pretty great running in the mud in the rain or in the surf at the beach.
  • edeonline
    edeonline Posts: 8 Member
    There was actually a study a few years ago (which I can't find now) that showed no performance difference between wearing trainers, or going barefoot (or using minimalist shoes). So it's a preference thing. My personal experience was I got less injury related problems using Vibrams five fingers. However I could also have just improved my technique as a result of shorter stride length and the elimination heel striking. I like the Five Fingers for comfort, useful for wearing in the water too, e.g. when kayaking. Less constricting than a conventional shoe I think.
  • Azdak
    Azdak Posts: 8,281 Member
    Vibram five fingers are a niche shoe that became a fad that are now thankfully returning to their proper place as a niche shoe.
  • rybo
    rybo Posts: 5,424 Member
    I am a fan of minimalist shoes and vibrams. The problem was never with the shoes or the barefoot movement, but with people's misinformed application. Even for someone with strong feet who has spent a lot of time barefoot, there was still a significant adjustment period. Double or triple that for those who never spent any time barefoot. But people are dumb and want to rush everything and cause themselves injuries.
    My personal experience was that I was up to 10 miles comfortably running in virbrams. And would still be, except for the trails I like to run on are just a little too rocky, a little too muddy, so I use low or zero drop trail shoes. I'll still take the vibrams out for a 5k or something on pavement or packed trail. I could never go back to conventional running shoes again. They feel horrible to me now.
  • rainbowbow
    rainbowbow Posts: 7,490 Member
    I don't think any of us can tell you whether or not it's "for you". That's something you'll need to decide on your own.

    What i can tell you is that they get really funky really fast and they take much longer to get used to than you think. I wouldn't start running in them right away; instead i'd opt for walking and increasing your distance there before you attempt running. My boyfriend had a pair and couldn't even handle walking for a couple hours on hard surfaces like tile and wood without serious foot pain.
  • jjpptt2
    jjpptt2 Posts: 5,650 Member
    I have a pair, and I like them, but only for very specific terrain/runs. They could never be an "only" shoe for me.

    Whether or not they work for you is pretty much impossible for us to say. The lack of traditional support is something to consider, but so protection from terrain. Not to mention overall fit and the other considerations that go into any shoe purchase.
  • BrianSharpe
    BrianSharpe Posts: 9,249 Member
    All I can suggest is to try them to see if you like them. I tried a zero drop shoe a few years ago and hated them but we're all built differently.

    It may interest you to note that Vibram was sued over somewhat excessive claims surrounding the whole barefoot running thing....
  • questionfear
    questionfear Posts: 527 Member
    I am a huge fan of minimal shoes. I don't believe they'll cure cancer and create world peace, but I do think they're better for me personally. However, I know people who run in very cushiony shoes (like your Kayanos) and are very happy, who would be writhing in pain if they ran in my flimsy Merrells. On the other hand, I doubt I could run 15ft in Kayanos without my knee exploding in pain.

    The point is, try it if you want, but don't feel pressured. And for the love of your feet, if you do decide you like it, go SLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWLY to start. As in, run your normal mileage in the Kayanos and then run 1/4 mile in minimal shoes. Every week add 1/4 mile to the minimal shoe runs, and if your calves are screaming, back off and run even less. Walk around in them too. The change from Kayanos to Vibrams would be like going from a cushy mattress to sleeping on the floor. You can adjust, but you're not going to sleep well immediately. In this case, it's the same issue plus risk of blowing out your achilles or snapping a tiny bone in your feet.