So…you want to run (almost) barefoot? Awesome! Here are some of the questions I’ve received about my experience running in Vibram FiveFingers.
[I will be splitting this topic into two posts since I got so many questions. If you have your own experience running in Vibram FiveFingers, please chime in in the comments section and leave links to your blog posts.]
Does it make your feet hurt to walk on the ground in VFF? No, not at all.
But what if you step on something? Well, watch where you’re going! 😉 Every once in a while I’ll hit an acorn or a large rock but I’m pretty good at avoiding those, and little rocks don’t hurt.
Do you have to run differently? Yes. I’ve always been a major heel striker (see blurry, pixelated – sorry! – picture below) and now have to run up on the balls of my feet much more. I’m not running on my tippy toes, but more like a mid-foot strike. And consequently, I’m developing toned calves for the first time in my life! Score!
Does it feel harder to run that way? Surprisingly, no. It’s much less jarring on my body and I feel like I look like the runners I’ve always envied…you know, the ones who look so light on their feet? I pretend I’m a Kenyan runner now instead of a clomper.
What about injuries? Now, I’m no doctor, but I have a feeling my injury rate is going to go way down. Last year while training for a marathon in standard running shoes, I developed issues with my SI joint (located in the lower back/upper butt area). Even after months of physical therapy, I could still feel the ache in my SI joint after a couple miles. However, I haven’t felt ANY pain in my SI joint since I’ve been running in the Vibram Five Fingers. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I don’t strike with my heel anymore, which I think was really jarring and impactful to the SI joint area. I’ve also struggled with IT band problems for over 6 years, and haven’t had any issues since switching to the FiveFingers.
Do your Vibrams provide good arch support? I’ve recently discovered that my right foot has become very flat-footed over time. There is very minimal arch support as you can see below. The bottom is a sort of rubber, flexible sole. However, I have read multiple studies about people who had flat feet and wearing VFF drastically improved their arches. Their feet strengthened from wearing VFF and the arch of their foot developed; they claimed you can “build” arches if you have flat feet and that flat feet are a result of not properly utilizing your feet. Make sense? BUT, obviously check with your doctor since this is all hearsay and I have no personal experience with it.
What if I have weak ankles? Same thing as arches…studies have been done that running barefoot helps strengthen ankles and also reduce foot injuries such a plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendon issues.
Do you still run in your normal running shoes? I did at first (alternating runs or switching to my Asics after 2 miles or so just so I could get in some distance), but I haven’t put them on in over a month.
If you want to run in Vibrams, my favorite style is the Bikila, which you can buy on Amazon. Also keep an eye on deal sites like Zulily and 6pm.com because I see them on crazy sale there a lot!
*Remember, I’m not a doctor or running coach, but am just sharing my experiences. Please check with your own health professional before making changes to your exercise routine and always consult a professional for injury diagnosis and treatment!