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December 16, 2010

Vibram FiveFingers, Frequently Asked and Asked and Asked Questions

Filed under: Running — Tags: — Marcus @ 2:00 am

I do a fair amount of weird stuff, having half my office turned into an Aquaponic system is weird, spending the better part of a week cracking/grinding/boiling acorns to make flower to make bread is weird, but people don’t know about those weird things until I make some reference to it.

However go basically anywhere wearing Vibram FiveFingers and you had better allot extra time because you are most likely going to get stopped and asked what they are.  By default, I am a hands off type of guy, the most contact I will have with most people is a handshake, however I have had several people that basically demanded to touch my feet because they wanted to see what the Vibram FiveFingers felt like.

So today, I am presenting some of the common questions I get asked about my Vibram shoes, if I miss a question you have about them, feel free to ask in the comments and I will respond to them.

#1 Don’t they feel weird?  I could never stand having something between my toes:
For the first two weeks you can expect them to feel weird, but you will get desensitized to it until they feel normal.  Think about it, as a baby when you first had the ability you probably spent half your time trying to get out of your shoes or clothes in general because they felt “weird”, but I doubt you think about it much anymore.

#2 What if you step on a rock or something else sharp?
This was one of my questions before I bought my first pair of Vibram’s, and while researching I ran across a blog article where the author mentioned that you foot already has the muscle memory to deal with it, you just never use it in regular shoes.  That seemed a bit odd, but I have now experienced it first hand, I was doing some trail running in them and I landed square on a pointed rock, before I could even thing about it my foot kind of rolled around it, I not only didn’t hurt my foot, but I barely felt it.  In general the soles of the Vibrams are thick enough you don’t feel small things (like a gravel driveway) and the bigger things you foot will react and handle on its own.

#3 How much arch support do they have?  You have to have arch support you know!
There is absolutely no arch support of any kind, and for that I am glad!  I have always been slightly flat footed, and I used to have issues with turning my ankles when I ran.  I always thought I had weak ankles, and so I always wore shoes with lots of support.  I have since learned that is the exact opposite of what I should have been doing.  If you have weak ankles, don’t baby them, work them out, strengthen them.  And the best way to do it, wear shoes with no support that will force your foot and ankles to strengthen up!  I am now running at least three times a week in my Vibrams, and I am up to 5 mile runs, and my feet and ankles have never felt stronger.

#4 What are you wearing those?
I have two main reasons, first and foremost, from my reading, wearing the Vibram’s will strengthen the muscles in my feet, ankles, and my calves, which will in turn help keep my legs and ultimately my back more in line.  Since one of my main goals this year was to work to correct my back issues, the hope that these could help was enough to try them out.  The second reason is for running, I have been trying to run for over 6 months and I just keep hurting my knees.  Within two months of starting to run in my Vibrams, I have far surpassed what I was doing in my running shoes, and I haven’t even come close to hitting a wall yet.  Almost every week at this point I am either breaking my personal speed or distance records.

#5 Those are just like some aqua shoes I saw, its probably the same thing right?
It is unbelievable how many times people have asked me if they were aqua shoes I was wearing, and no matter what I tell them, you can see in their eyes that they know the truth and that they really are just aqua shoes.  No, these are not aqua shoes, yes you can wear them in the water, but you can also run a marathon in them, try that in your run of the mill aqua shoes and report back!

#6 Are they waterproof?
Looking at them, they look like they might be waterproof, however they are not even close.  The tops of the Vibrams are a very open fabric, you feet will get wet just walking across a damp parking lot, however the open design also means that even if your feet get wet, they will dry out quickly once you get back inside.

#7 Do you wear socks in them?
No, there is a company that makes socks that will work with them, but most Vibram owners would agree that defeats the purpose of having more contact with the ground underneath you.

#8 Don’t they stink after awhile?
This is another one that it doesn’t matter what I say, I can tell the person asking me isn’t listening because they have already made up their mind.  As long as you take proper care of your Vibrams, they will not stink, for me I wash them once per week, and I rotate between my two pairs so that they have plenty of time to dry out between times of wearing them.  Most of the time my Vibrams smell like our laundry soap because they get washed so often.

#9 Aren’t your feet cold?
Your feet will get cold easier in these since there isn’t as much isolation between your feet and the ground, however, it is my belief that your feet will harden themselves against the cold with time.  However, that being said, I haven’t been wearing my Vibrams into work since it started snowing because they are very cold when you try to walk through snow drifts with them.

#10 Are you still wearing them???
Its amazing that people still ask me things like this, I get the same question all the time about my Polyphasic sleeping schedule.  Let me save you from the waste of time asking this over and over.  Yes, I am still wearing these, and unless something better comes along, I will continue to wear these indefinitely.

#11 You actually wear those in public?
I will wear them basically anywhere, I wear them to work every day (except in the snow), I wear them to the grocery store.  They don’t seem to go with my dress outfits, but besides that, you will see me wearing them most times I am out and about.

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