Vibram FiveFingers Running Shoes

OK, clear your throat. Now let out a hearty laugh. Yes, these are gloves for your feet, and they look silly. Now listen: Vibram USA is onto something here. I have run close to 100 miles in a pair of FiveFingers, and darn if I’m not becoming a convert (Update: New related content, “Sneak Peek: Vibram FiveFingers 2011” line.)

Marketed as the first footwear to offer “the sensation of going barefoot with the protection and security of a sole,” Vibram’s FiveFingers shoe-gloves have stretchy synthetic uppers and thin rubber soles. Vibram touts its three FiveFingers models as promoting better foot health and stimulating the muscles in the feet and lower legs for greater balance, agility and strength. Other potential benefits the company cites include better posture and reduced back pain.

fivefingers-new.jpg

Vibram FiveFingers Running Shoes

I’ve been testing the Sprint model, which costs $80 and is made for hiking, yoga, sailing, surfing, canoeing, and “barefoot” running. Naturally, these shoes fit tight, wrapping each toe and following the lines of your foot back to a defined heel cup. The Sprint model has a Velcro strap that cinches over the top of the foot for extra security.

Despite the purported health advantages, first-time FiveFingers wearers have to be careful, especially for running. I am a regular runner, and I prefer shoes that promote minimal support in favor of bolstering foot and leg strength. But the FiveFingers philosophy is the epitome of this minimalism, as there’s zero cushioning underfoot.

You feel sticks, stones and cracks in the sidewalk through the shoes. The sole serves only to protect your skin, not your joints.

MORE BAREFOOT RUNNING ARTICLES ON GEAR JUNKIE:

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Posted by Toby - 01/08/2008 12:27 PM

How does the material inside feel against bare skin? Do you think Injinji toe socks would work with these?

Posted by Stephen Regenold - 01/08/2008 09:46 PM

No, go barefoot. The material inside the shoe is soft, made to wear w/o socks.

Posted by Ice - 01/10/2008 03:16 PM

wow. I can’t imagine trailrunning in those! It’s bad enough walking over rocks with wetsuit boots on, and they have a rubber sole, seems like actually running would be quite painful. Or maybe I’m just a wuss. ;-)

Are the tops of them pretty thin too? I’m wondering if they’d work better with fins than bulkier wetsuit boots…

Posted by dean shaw - 01/10/2008 03:33 PM

Ill bet they would be good for archery when doing a sneak on animals?

Posted by Stephen Regenold - 01/11/2008 09:22 AM

Re Ice’s question, the top fabric is thin and breathable.

As my story says, you should be a strong and experienced runner before putting these on for a jog. You have to run with a forefoot strike, not a heel-to-toe “roll.” They allow you to mimic a barefoot running style, though with some protection underfoot.

Posted by Claire Walter - 01/11/2008 10:40 AM

Weird indeed—even weirder than using poles for fitness walking still is and snowshoeing used to be. Snowshoeing finally caught on big-time. Hopefully, Nordic Walking will too. Maybe these “foot gloves” will hit big too. But then again, probably not. Tevas and other river sandals and then Crocs and clones became popular footwear styles, but they both are easy to put on and take off.
Claire @ http://nordic-walking-usa.blogspot.com

Posted by Scott - 01/11/2008 10:32 PM

I purchased a pair and I think they would make good aqua socks for kayaking, but not for running. Good fit, but as in the review I do have some discomfort on the heals.

Posted by Rod Johnson - 01/12/2008 12:57 PM

Hi Stephen,
I tried out a pair of Five Fingers on a Via Ferrata climb in the Dolomites last September. They were fun to climb in, but did poorly on the icy sections. I have a great photo of them in use, if you would like, I can e-mail it to you.
I have had good comments from people while I have been walking around in them.

Posted by Austin - 01/14/2008 11:00 AM

How tough are they? I could see myself using these on many occasions, either doing calisthenics or for around camp (apres backpacking). Does the rubber show any separation from the material?

Posted by Stephen Regenold - 01/15/2008 03:17 PM

Austin—Very little wear on mine, though I run pretty light on my feet in them and stay on grass trails, smooth dirt and asphalt. They don’t get much use here in MN in the winter, though.

Posted by Stephen Regenold - 01/15/2008 03:18 PM

Rod—Please do send me those images!

stephen@thegearjunkie.com

Posted by Dwayne - 01/17/2008 11:41 AM

Hey Stephen,
I have been contemplating getting me a pair of VFF. However I live outside the US, UK, and Canada, so a try out is not possible. I have used the Nike Air rifts on trails before and the feel was great but lacked the traction, so I got the Puma Complete Trail Fox, awesome shoe. As you can tell I prefer minimalist shoes, especially as I am a sprinter, but I am concerned of the complete lack of cushioning. I intend to use the VFF for speed work and short runs. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Posted by Stephen Regenold - 01/18/2008 11:54 AM

Dwayne,
They are minimal. Nothing really there underfoot. It’s like a second skin for barefoot runners. Would you speed train barefoot? If so, these might be the “shoes” for you. Make sure there’s a return policy if you buy online to make sure you get the right fit. As my column said, I took a whole size smaller in these than what I wear for street shoes.

Posted by Rachel H - 01/31/2008 12:49 AM

I hadn’t heard of these until I saw them on JuliB.com, where Lisa Hoffman recommends them for tide pools… sounds like about the right speed, considering the look of them.

Posted by AJ D. - 02/19/2008 02:19 PM

I’ve been an advocat of barefoot running for some time now and I absolutely love these things. I have the ones with the strap over the top. I don’t know if it’s the hippie in me or something else but i hate shoes and these are the perfect option for me. Like Stephen says, there is no support, only the thin sole. I use mine for hiking, running, water sports, and just wearing around town. It took some getting used to but now I can’t see myself ever running in shoes again.

Posted by David - 03/21/2008 11:35 AM

Stephen, I found your site a few days ago and I’ve barely started exploring it but I really enjoy it. I hope you don’t mind a clarification? The model you’ve pictured is the KSO (“Keep Stuff Out”). The Sprint lacks the mesh in front of the strap, and has two short Velcro straps around the heel plus the instep strap.

The KSO and the Flow (same coverage as the KSO but with a 2mm Neoprene lining) aren’t going to appear on the VFF website until April 1, according to email from a VFF customer service person. (Though a few sites already advertise the KSO as being in stock and ready for delivery.) Google found me a brochure showing both new models: http://www.head2foot.se/fivefingers/pdf/fivefingers_workbook.pdf. The CS rep also told me that the Surge model (the boots) is being discontinued so if you like them, get them while you can.

I got a pair of the Sprint about ten days ago but I’m in Pittsburgh so I haven’t worn them outside, just on the treacherous terrain of carpet and hardwood floors. Toby, for me they’re fine over Injinji’s Outdoor and Performance socks as well as over bare feet. I won’t be using for real, I returned them as soon as I learned of the KSO (I hate stuff getting inside my Keens). My primary use for them will be running, I’m trying out Nicholas Romanov’s “Pose Method.”

D.

Posted by Harvey S. Cohen - 06/27/2008 09:08 AM

I wear my Sprints both with and without Injinji socks.
I wear either Sprint or KSO on the golf course. Sprint tends to collect sand from traps, but it’s easy to empty them out. I can put on my Sprints easily by leaving them flat on the ground and sliding my feet in; holding them in the hands and sliding them on (like socks) does not work so well. The KSO are harder to put on (or perhaps I have yet to find the right technique).
Walking the golf course in VFFs feels delicious. Traction for swinging is excellent on dry grass; marginal on really wet grass.
Fit for VFFs is based strictly on foot length (back of heel to tip of longest toe). The VFF web site translates this measurement into a size. The translation is different for different models. (I have 11-inch feet and wear a size 44 Sprint and size 43 KSO).

Posted by peter - 08/22/2008 01:29 AM

I just purchased a pair of Vibram KSO’s and I have mixed feelings.

During my initial run with them, I stepped on a twig (not a branch, merely a twig) which rolled over and ripped a hole in the upper of the Vibrams, over the big toe. I am fully onboard with mimicking the barefoot running technique, but I seriously question the durability of these shoes.

I purchased the Vibrams from Rock Creek Outfitters online. I immediately emailed my concerns that the shoes didn’t make it through my first run and their response was that they were unwilling to take them as a return or exchange. Essentially, I had wasted $80. If you want to purchase these shoes, DO NOT BUY THEM FROM ROCK CREEK OUTFITTERS. They will not offer any sort of customer service when necessary.

Posted by Stephen Regenold - 08/22/2008 08:10 AM

Hmm, too bad. Must have been a sharp twig! I have run many miles in mine and the uppers are fine.

I’d contact Vibram direct to see about warranty.

Posted by mc - 11/11/2008 09:09 AM

For folks wondering about how to fit any and all of the 4 current (winter 08) models of VFF’s, here’s an overview of how to fit each one, and how they fit – especially if you have an “odd” foot shape. also covered: how to size and fit with sox.

Posted by David - 12/01/2008 09:41 AM

As a barefoot runner for nearly 7 years, the most important thing is to properly ‘transition’ to barefoot running. VFFs are a decent alternative when barefooting isn’t possible, but they do not substitute the slower training needed before you can use them. Regardingheel-striking, this is caused ONLY when wearing traditional running shoes die to their positive heel design. This along with over-cushioned design element cause the feet to become lazy and causer a medley of injuries. Check out www.BarefootRunner.com to learn more as well as keep an eye on Skora footwear, which I’m trying to launch for late ’09 / early ’10. www.skorashop.com Happy trails! David.

Posted by Zsofi - 03/17/2009 07:38 AM

I have a pair of classic and i really love it!I wear it indoor, and i always notice people saying omg:)Its very comfortable!When its really hot , the sidewalks are hot tooo and i have to hurry:)So i recommend it it to everybody!

Posted by RunColo - 06/25/2009 09:59 AM

http://www.runcolo.com/Product-Reviews/Vibram-Five-Fingers.html

I have the Classics, love ‘em!

Posted by Chris - 07/30/2009 12:02 AM

Hi Laura,

Hope you’re still enjoying the FiveFingers. I certainly have. Unfortunately they seemed to have a defect though and have started to fall apart! I wrote a review to explain here: Review @ ChristopherRCooper.com

Posted by FuncFash - 07/30/2009 11:19 PM

Hi Stephen, wonderful post on the Vibram FiveFinger shoes. It was so good I included it in a post that we just did about the best reviews in and information for the Vibram FiveFingers .Thanks for the information!

Posted by oldschoolHWK - 09/16/2009 09:43 AM

Bought KSO’s Friday 9/11, played Frisbee and did some light callisthenics’s Sat, and love them. Did some plyometrics and sprints on Monday, lifted weights on Tuesday (squats, deads) and though my calves are still sore (from monday) I can see these becoming my default workout shoe

Posted by james - 09/17/2009 05:29 PM

also found a great site with a lot of info, has some new models too that i haven’t seen out yet.. but i think thats in one of their blog posts. www.vibramfivefingersshoes.com

Posted by Pat Smith - 10/06/2009 09:29 AM

I’ve had my Five Fingers for nearly two years and love them….they go on all water/beach trips. Where they really rock is on a beach with LOTS of shells – and sharp edges, like clam digging/oyster harvesting. With open sandals there is still the opportunity to cut the sides of your feet…not so with these. I agree that if you need more foot support or have knee problems, running is not meant with Five Fingers, but beachcombing and general outside stuff where you want to feel barefoot? They are very comfy.

Posted by Polly Measom - 12/03/2009 10:30 PM

I am looking for a lightweight pair of shoes for my cheerleader son.. He needs something that is not bulky to help with his tumbling. These look perfect, does anyone have experience with this?

Posted by andr0m3da - 12/08/2009 03:56 AM

i would imagine vff would be awesome for something like cheerleading. they are SO lightweight and flexible.

Posted by heyman - 12/10/2009 12:40 PM

you shouldn’t feel embarassed.. they’re nice shoes! stands out a bit, i wear them with these:

http://barefootrunningshoes.org/accessories/five-finger-socks/

Posted by Stefan Toft - 12/16/2009 07:59 PM

Nice and short review.
I do like my VFF classic a lot! I use them for strenght training, yoga, hiking and lately I’ve been using them for a run once a week. Lovely and I will be getting another pair soon.

Posted by Katie - 12/20/2009 06:51 PM

I run in these! Can’t run in anything else. Running trails is no biggee. Just watch where you put your feet down. You’ll find the dirt feels good under your feet. I’d especially recommend these for new runners, since they teach good (better, at least) form right out of the box. And you’ll have to start over with short runs anyway.

Posted by Julia Bell - 01/08/2010 12:50 AM

I am just wondering if anyone has experience with these type of shoes or this type of running and ankle injuries. I am just recovering from my third ankle surgery (had a pretty bad brake three years ago and they are still fixing it….). I have been running in between the surgeries (lightly). However, I am still working on getting my ankle stronger right now before I can start running again. This approach of barefoot running sounds interesting to me and I am just wondering, if anyone would know what that would do to someone with a history of ankle problems. Would it get better or worse? Thanks for your input

Posted by Al - 01/19/2010 06:00 PM

We run trails with rocks, pebbles, cactus thorns, and its a pretty rough ride sometimes. anyone have 5Fingers experience in similar settings? Seems to me they might not provide enough protection…..?

Posted by Scott Backes - 01/26/2010 09:54 AM

Stephen,
I think you missed the point of these shoes. Read the book Born to Run, and check out the Pose method of running, it details how, and why using five fingers is actually great for people with knee problems. The Five Fingers “makes” you mid-foot strike because there is not cushioning for the heel. You end up using your foot’s arch as the shock absorber. I’ve been running in them for 6 months and have had almost no knee pain. They also teach you to mid-foot strike when wearing regular running shoes.

Posted by Matthew - 02/19/2010 10:55 AM

I have been wearing and running in the FF KSO for over a year now. All of my running had been on rugged trails. These teach you to watch where you step a little better, but work great. I just recently started running on asphalt and have had no problems. Because of the cold weather I wear my wool Injinji socks. Also, I just picked up a pair of the new KSO Trek two weeks ago. They are going to be great for the trail. They add just a little more protection and a very aggressive tread along with a kangaroo upper. I wear both pair out and about as well as to work. Heck I even wear them around the house instead of being barefoot. Love’em.

Posted by Ghillie Suits - 02/25/2010 03:56 PM

I have had these for 5 months and I love them. They are great for the gym. Doing squats feels more natural, you have you entire foot on the ground.

Posted by Amber - 03/03/2010 12:54 PM

i want these shoes so bad. im not sure if they are good but i think im going to try some. should i?

Posted by Hanna - 03/05/2010 12:19 PM

I would love to hear how these compare to the Newton running shoes. I’m a marathoner and have been plagued by IT issues, so I’m considering a move to the barefoot running style. I’m a bit afraid to jump straight to the Vibrams. Anyone have thoughts?

Posted by Jeff - 03/19/2010 12:48 PM

I used to run cross country in high school, stopped running in college. I have tried to get back into running several times since. Knee probles always arose. Was fitted for shoes 5 times to account for it, still always ended my running. I started front-foot strike running about a month ago. I then bought a pair of VFF Sprints 2 weeks ago. I love them for running on all surfaces, and so far no significant knee pain! Fro ME at least, these are fantastic!

Posted by Matthew - 03/23/2010 04:57 PM

I bought a pair of VFF Kso last weekend and have been eager to try them out. I am also excited to see the release of the VFF Speed and Bikila later this year as Vibram has said these two models are designed better for running.

Posted by Jacks - 04/07/2010 08:15 AM

Has anyone tried these on a semi-gloss hardwood floor with yoga moves? Do they skid?

Posted by jpea - 04/09/2010 08:25 AM

they’re pretty sticky-rubbery on the bottom so I wouldn’t guess they’d skid. Never tried them though in that scenario…

Posted by Felix - 04/13/2010 11:00 PM

I’ve been using them in a gym with semi-polished wood floors for step aerobics and floor exercise for several months, no slipping/skipping at all.

Posted by Paul D - 04/16/2010 10:04 AM

The Injinji socks work great with FiveFingers for cold weather or for people with sensitive skin.

Posted by Sarah - 04/19/2010 06:02 PM

I am a new runner and just ran my first 5K in these shoes. I always get shin splints and hip pain in sneakers. I love these non-shoes.

Posted by FireSteel.com - 04/26/2010 04:22 PM

Do these come in wide widths or are they pretty much “one size fits all width feet”?

Posted by Hiking Lady - 04/30/2010 08:32 AM

Very interesting. I’ve been intrigued by the notion of bear foot running and this seems to be a good way to do it. How quickly do they dry? If you’re using them for watersports I’d imagine they’d have to dry pretty fast.

Posted by Craig - 05/14/2010 02:42 PM

I’m 57 and have lost 35 lbs in 6 months running in FFV. I used to run in my 20s and returning always caused shin splints, plantar fasciitis, knee problems. I began running in the barefoot style (short steps, ball of foot first) with my New Balances and then switched to FFV KSO. Within a week I was running 6-9 miles, 5 days a week in my FFV w/o a problem. I’m positively evangelical. Training for a marathon….

Posted by AJ - 05/17/2010 09:00 AM

I developed awful shin-spints from running in running shoes. I got the Sprints two years ago and I absolutely love them. I would rather not run in anything else. I use them on cement, asphalt, and trail running. I honestly have to say that they made running fun again. And the best news is, I have not had any shin splints since I started using them.
I just wish they made an insulated version for the cold Canadian winters.

Posted by Brian - 05/19/2010 03:31 PM

These Toe shoes are also great for bodybuilders in the gym just gives it a more natural feel and makes deadlifting alot easier

Posted by Pete - 06/01/2010 10:55 AM

Garbage 7hours use and shot…customer service says fix w/needle and thread…$90.00 shoes. DO NOT BUY

Posted by Professor - 06/14/2010 10:06 AM

I purchased a pair only a few months ago for $110. I had only worn them 15 times when the sewing around the toes came undone. It is unfortunate because I really liked them. I would not recommend people purchasing them.

Posted by ian - 07/07/2010 11:16 AM

I’ve worn mine about 20 times and they are tearing at a seam at the big toe, and also around the ankle have been unraveling since I bought them. There are two cuts/tears all the way through the sole, on my left foot where I stepped on a rock while running. They are ok for running, but running barefoot is still better. I find I have a pain in my achiles as apposed to no pain when I run actually barefoot. They are good for trailrunning/hiking. They are awful for bouldering/rockclimbing. A little worse than climbing barefoot with traction and not even close to real climbing shoe performance. They are comfortable though, and I like riding my bike with them, because they let the breeze hit my foot.

Posted by anonymous - 07/27/2010 12:13 AM

The picture looks so cool.

Posted by Ammi - 07/29/2010 05:33 AM

For those who are suffering from VFFs that are showing significant wear and tear early on, it might be worth considering if the product is a counterfeit. VFF have got a page on their website saying that people are selling counterfeit products that are substandard – something to keep an eye out for.

Posted by stevendm - 08/03/2010 03:26 PM

Beware of these shoes. My wife bought some last year and spent a month building up her feet to get used to these shoes, slowly building up her use of them as suggested by Vibrams. She used to run half marathons and WAS an amateur runner. She was able to run in these shoes twice, once for 1 mile and then for 4. On the four mile run she broke one of the bones in her foot. It wasn’t from hitting a rock or anything, it was just from running on the street like she always has done, in a location that she used to frequent. This stress fracture caused a nerve problem called RSD or CRPS. It is a very painful problem where the nerves in her foot misfire and that causes other nerves to fire and that causes a very painful loopback condition where her nerves are just freaking out. It is very painful, expensive to treat and probably will be with her the rest of her life.

Beware of these shoes. They sound great but can cause serious problems. There is a reason that runners spend big bucks on shoes with good arch support. It is needed and these shoes do not provide it.

Now, it will be interesting to see if this post is deleted since it is not praising the Vibram Five Fingers shoes.

Posted by I'm Right - 08/07/2010 07:22 PM

You people are stupid for buying this. Do you know how ridiculous you look wearing them?

Posted by Gill - 08/09/2010 02:15 AM

Hi, as someone who has their index toe longer than the big toe do you think these would still be comfortable?

Posted by Shannan S - 08/11/2010 03:07 PM

Hey, I bought these a few weeks ago and have been really enjoying running in them, that is until i developed plantar faciitis in my right foot from the lack of arch support. I was wondering if anyone has found perhaps an insole or something that would help support a higher arch?

Posted by JC - 08/11/2010 05:08 PM

Glad I came across this article. I saw these in an ad and they piqued my interest. I’m not sure these are right for me though. I was diagnosed with a bulging disc and probably shouldn’t do anymore running. I miss it terribly though and want to get back into it, but I’m afraid I’ll mess up my back even worse. I am so frustrated! At least I can still climb though.

As a side note, anyone wanting to give these a try might check out REI. They will give you 30 days to return just about anything. I’ve returned a few pairs of climbing shoes after trying them out for a few weeks and never had a problem. Make sure to check if their policy applies to these shoes and if damage disqualifies you from a refund.

Posted by perpoiseboy - 08/20/2010 05:18 PM

to peeps who are doubters..old enough to remember zola bud? if not, google her.

Posted by Aaron - 08/21/2010 06:28 PM

If I’m not at work wearing casual dress, I’m in flip flops or bare feet. I bought a pair of KSO Treks to do a little hiking and kayaking in. I love them. Very comfortable to do anyhting I would normally do. I don’t care how they look and if I look stupid, these shoes are great and I’ll tell anyone that.
For the people that have gotten injured in these shoes I ask, sure it was the shoes? and if it was, are you sure you were conditioned properly for them? When running you are not supposed to run heel toe, you run on the balls of your feet. Different feel different muscles.
Hiking traction is very good if you know how to use them. Great in water! My only complaint, the top strap is supposed to tighten the fit and prevent sand from getting in, this doesn’t really happen. None the less, when these wear out, I’m spending another $125 (tax) for new ones.

Posted by kyle - 08/30/2010 09:57 AM

reply to: stevendm – 08/03/2010 04:26 Pm
i bet it is because your wife’s bones were weaker than a human females foot bones should be. i bet all the years of running in shoes, something wrong in her diet over an extended period, and age all played a much larger role than the shoes. otherwise stories like your wife’s would be more common. i know that when something bad happens we tend to blame everything before blaming ourselves but blame is not the answer, moving on is.

Posted by ep1nephr1ne - 08/31/2010 10:55 AM

Salt water running at the beach. I’m concerned these may chafe and my feet will look like a skinned cat. anyone use these in/at saltwater beaches for 5 miles or more.

Posted by Jim - 09/05/2010 02:53 PM

Putting in insoles to a pair of vff is sort of missing the point.

Posted by Christy - 09/06/2010 09:39 AM

I really liked my vibram sprints…at first. I loved the way I felt walking in them. I walked in them for three months after the birth of my baby girl. Once I was cleared to begin exercise I started running in my sprints. I have extremely high arches and felt an uncomfortable pull in my arches at first but I ran through the pain and the pain faded. I thought this meant my body was adapting to the shoes. But after a month of running in them on my treadmill (I was leary to run on sidewalk with them) I started getting ingrown toenails on my second and third toes, where i’ve never had them before. I gave it a week and was able to run in them again. Then I started having pain in my heel and arch. First thing in the morning my heel hurt really bad and now I have a hard/painful knot forming on my heel. I haven’t seen a dictor yet so I can’t be sure what it is, but from online research I suspect plantar fascitis. After reading vibram reviews which are all overwhlmingly positive I was left wondering what my problem was. Why is no one else having problems with these shoes? Finally I came across an article that said PF accounts for 15% of foot injuries. But for barefoot runners it accounts for 90% of foot injuries. I love the idea of the vibram shoes and am sorry they didn’t work out for me. I thought I’d post this for anyone else who might be having problems like me.

Posted by Anu - 09/09/2010 01:16 PM

Christy, I too am having problems in Vibram(sportstrek). Initially I bought KSO but the sole was too flimsy for trail running I do everyday. SportsTrek allowed more cushioning from the elements. I went hiking this weekend and my achilles tendon was in awesome pain at the end of it. But only on one foot. I took off the straps and rested for a few days. I am back to running with Vibram without the straps and my achilles muscles is beginning to ache. I thought initially the strap was just rubbing during the rugged hike up the mountain but it appears the lack of support is doing something funky to my achilles. Love to hear if this is a faze that I can stretch out the muscles and be ok soon..or Vibram also not for me. I really wanted this to works so I hope it’s just a adjustment period.

Posted by zeephyyr - 09/16/2010 01:39 PM

@Christy,
Actually, usually it isn’t plantar fascitis but rather it’s an overstretch of a muscle that connects your heel bone to the plantar fascia. Fortunately, as in the case of other muscle injuries it is usually less severe and will heal sooner (in a 2 or 3 of weeks if you take care of it).
I also had some issues with Sprints, I had some pain in my right foot sole after running for an hour up and down a hill. It was probably caused by an inappropriate striking with that foot. I had been suffering from some Achilles tendinitis, mainly in that foot. Not very painful, but enough a nuisance to make me step the wrong way. As a result of landing with my heel and midsole I probably overstretched that plantar muscle.
VFFs can be great as long as you give time (and moderate work out) to your tendons, muscles and joints to get adapted to the barefoot-like walking and running.
My adaptive process didn’t really take off until I started to wear my VFFs at home as many hours as possible and everyday walking (best time to start on holidays, once you get used, it’ll be easier for you to dare wearing them in many other occasions). This paradoxically helped me fully recover from my 6-month-long tendinitis that had been caused by a thoughtless day of fast running too soon (in my 2nd month of transition) that led to an overstretch my Achilles tendons.
So far I’ve been learning the hard way, but I think that if you are patient and take care with any possible problems during your adaptation, they all will fade away in a few days after they appeared.
My latest hard learning lesson has been taken after running about a mile barefoot on agglomerate. It caused me blisters and cuts in the skin of my toes. I should have chosen a less abrasive surface, but I really didn’t think that such short distance would be so damaging, and I didn’t feel any discomfort at all the during the 1st 8 hundred meters.

Posted by Michael - 09/16/2010 02:54 PM

I have been running in VFFs KSO now for about one month, just after finishing the Pikes Peak Marathon. I run almost everyday, average 35 – 40 miles a week. I run trails almost 100% of the time. At first my biggest issue with the VFFs were blisters on the side of my feet where the rubber meets the neoprene. I ran thru that pain. Next the stitching around my big toes started to come apart. I returned and was given a new pair. Since then I get pain in the balls of my feet and wonder if that is just from changing from a heel-to-toe runner to only running on the balls of my feet. I had about 100 miles on my VFFs and then, just yesterday, I went back to my running shoes. I did not like that at all. I want to run in VFFs but it seems the quality of the shoe is poor and will not last on top of the issues of the ball of my feet. Any suggestions? Also, after just 3 days out on my new pair the rubber from the sole is starting to peel away from the neoprene.

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Posted by peacecraver - 09/22/2010 01:42 PM

I bought the VFF Sprints about a month ago. I’ve been jogging in them, and I’ve also played tennis in them about 5 times. I LOVE PLAYING TENNIS IN THEM! I feel much more agile and am definitely faster in them, and they are not slippery at all on the court. I would really love to hear about others’ experiences playing tennis in them, and I would especially love to see some of the pros try them . . . BUT, I do have questions about negative effects, biomechanically speaking. My calves hurt just a bit for a while after the first 2-3 times I used them, but they stopped hurting all together. My lower back also feels better than it had been before I tried them. But unfortunately, my feet (all of them – not just the bottoms) and especially the ball of my right foot have been hurting. I am really sad about it but I will probably go back to regular shoes, at least for a while, to see what happens . . . I started reaching for the old shoes this morning before my jog, but at the last second, I put the VFF on. AHHH! They do feel good while I’m in them. But I am a bit worried that I’m damaging my feet. I’m curious to hear from others how long they think it should take to adapt to them.

Posted by xcountry27 - 10/07/2010 05:39 PM

They can be hard on adult feet, asd they take time to get used to. I find that if teens and kids use them, they develope the necesary muscles, making them less prone to injury. plus, after a while they feel more natural. i wish they had more fashionable ones for everyday wear.

Posted by Scott - 10/12/2010 09:15 AM

I think these sound like a really good shoe, but I want to use them for hiking in areas with large venomous snake populations. I tend to hike off the trail preferring to walk through the trees, rocks, and streams rather than around them. Any suggestions on what to do to provide protection from snake bites while wearing these. (beyond the obvious of avoiding the snakes :) )

Posted by Kelly Morris - 10/13/2010 02:41 PM

Just wanted to say that if you buy the KSO TREK from the Vibram website BUYER BEWARE……I received a defective pair from them – the insole on the left shoe was delaminating and bunching up after the first day. You have to call them (long distance charges) and ask for a return authorization – there is no mention of this on their website…..I had to wait three days for a return authorization label as the links that they sent did not work. They finally sent me a pdf file containing the label (after several more long distance phone calls and emails..).
As soon as I received the label I promply repackaged the shoes and sent them back to Vibram. I didn’t hear from them for several weeks and their was no record of them receiving the return for exchange on their website. More calls – emails and I am told that their computers are being upgraded…

Hi Kelly,
Thank you for your email. The exchange process normally takes 7-10 working days.
Having said that, we are going through a system upgrade and are unable to process any orders as we speak.
I apologize for the inconvenience, but at this time am unable to give you an update.
We will send you an email as soon as we go live and are able to input orders.

Regards,

XXXXX

Another week goes by and the computers are still being upgraded! More emails and they finally say that they will refund my account and that I can repurchase from them online, or from another retailer – but wait, when I check their order page….they are sold our of my size!

I would suggest buying locally where you know you can get good customer service – buying from Vibram has been a terrible experience and I will never purchase from them again.

Posted by kat partridge - 10/17/2010 09:49 PM

I have the KSOTrek and love them! not sure I would run in them… but they are so comfy and I love my toes are are to wiggle
I use them in the gym and just to play around in

Posted by Chance - 10/30/2010 12:40 PM

Just ran in my new KSO’s for the first time. I am 6’ 3” and 250 lbs. I usually get very cramped and my feet kill me but today with the KSO’s I was comfortable running for the first time with no cramps. Not to mention I cut about 45 sec on my mile time. You can’t even tell they are on your feet they are so light.

Posted by jane - 11/14/2010 09:51 AM

Just saw my first pr of 5 fingered shoes and am attracted to the concept, but having read the letters of others, realize the source of my attraction is not the norm. I am a 63 yr old non-athlete, raised by depression-era parents who felt an extreme obligation to keep their children in shoes and believed barefoot, was merely a condition of poverty. I now have fallen arches, a couple arched toes and worst of all, bunions that force the great toe towards the outside of my feet, crowding all the other toes. The first relief came with rigid, molded, arch support inserts, but I feel the real answer is to strengthen the feet by making them do their own work and spread the toes back out. The arches have responded well to this and altho they have not risen, i’ve spent the last 4 years in Chacos and obviously, without the supports. I use the model with a toe loop, which has kept the bunions from getting worse or allowing the great toe to pressure the others, but have been searching for a shoe that will cover my foot while still separating the toes. Five fingers could be the answer and after reviewing all the models, i would order the Treksport because it has the thicker sole, seems suitable for my activities of walking and yoga, and it would provide a foot cover. The questions then: would the toe spaces accommodate the arched toes without rubbing them? is the shoe capable of holding the great toe in it’s place and preventing it from exerting force on the others? are the toes expected to actually touch the front ends of the shoes?

The focus of your shoes is on athletes, but the concept is the best ever alternative to the insane offerings of the mainstream footwear industry. You might consider a ‘remediation model’ for those of us needing to rehabilitate damaged feet. I am also disappointed that Treksport is only offered in conservative, neutral colors. Give me the violet of Performas, chili and peach, coral, or better yet, the verde, sky blue, and wonderful magenta/orange of Bikilas!

Posted by Chrissie H - 11/25/2010 01:37 AM

I have a pair and Love them I run and hike and swim in them with no probs but I do go bare foot all the time,they do tell people if you are new to the bare foot idea dont over do it..Build up to it your feet need to get use to the idea of doing what they wer made to do!!!Bare foot Love.

Posted by Alicia Anderson - 12/25/2010 05:06 PM

I just read the first few comments so I am not sure what everybody said… however, I have learned that most americans run incorrectly by landing on their heels. To run like Kenyans you have to land on the balls of your feet. It feels great once you get the hang of it. I can’t wait to get my own pair of fivefinger running shoes.

Posted by joe - 12/29/2010 04:02 PM

I got some for Christmas and LOVE them. I went on action and forgot them and all I could do was think about them.

Posted by bob - 01/03/2011 12:29 AM

absolutely f…ing ridiculous, a stupid fad that you’ll be scratching your head about 5 years from now, if you even remember them. I feel sorry for the fools who buy them.

Posted by Eric - 01/03/2011 08:00 PM

I was given the VFF KSOs as a gift and although I wasn’t sure at first I’m really enjoying them. Genius design, great materials, excellent shoe! I have a bunion that bothers me with after about 3 miles with sneakers and these shoes mold to the shape of my foot so I don’t notice it, although I haven’t gone long distance yet. They may not be for everyone, but I’m impressed so far.

Posted by The Real Bob - 01/16/2011 11:04 AM

Dear bob (and others like bob):
You seem a little too angry about these shoes. Why is that? Did you participate in a “fad” at one time only to be laughed at by the kids in your neighborhood?
I’m sorry you had to go through that, I’m sorry the other kids laughed at you and made you cry. It will be OK bob, I promise, you just need to work past this and build some confidence again.
Now get out there kiddo and show those kids how wrong they were for laughing and picking on you for whatever “fad” you were into. Wear your bellbottoms (just an example as I have no idea what injured you do badly that you must come to the internet to make snide anonymous comments) with pride!!

Posted by kati togger - 01/19/2011 05:08 PM

what is the cost for a pair of these shoes for women?

Posted by justin - 01/20/2011 12:57 PM

hey people check this out, turns out vibram might have some competition…http://www.futglove.com/products/Men%27s-WARRIOR.html

Posted by Wolf - 01/23/2011 06:00 PM

Would these five finger shoes work for an everyday use?
Like walking around school or outside?

Posted by Thomas - 01/27/2011 05:59 PM

I purchased the KSO Trek and love them. They
Have the thickest sole and I wear them everyday for everything. Everyday wear and at the gym.

Recently broke my leg and they have helped in my ability to gain strength, mobility, and stability.

Posted by dude - 01/27/2011 07:57 PM

I have the KSO and I really like running now.
fells kinda light and springy.

I started slowly the transision, not to damage something.
Oh I HAVE to use Toesocks with really cold temperatures here ;)

Posted by Christin - 02/06/2011 04:48 PM

I’m a brand new barefoot runner and am very slowly working my feet into it before investing in a pair of VFFs, however, for anyone that likes doing research into a new concept or wants some structured guidance on getting into the whole barefoot running thing(like me) you might try Jason Robillard’s book “The Barefoot Running Book: A Practical Guide to the Art and Science of Barefoot and Minimalist Shoe Running, second edition.” I can’t give a full review on it’s effectiveness yet, because I’ve just started putting his recommendations into practice, but I have read the whole book through and the process seems to make sense. I also have weak arches and bad knees, so I’m hoping that the change in form will help those aches and pains. Happy barefooting!

Posted by PK - 02/08/2011 05:11 AM

I just bought my first pair of Vibrams Bikila size 43 and I absolutely love them. I am still getting use to them and I am gradually increasing my mileage when I go running. I run a couple of half marathons each year so I am looking forward to running my “first” half marathon in my Vibrams. For anyone who is having problems with their Vibrams such as defects, I belong to Roadrunner Sports in San Diego, CA.
800-743-3206 (I do not work for them or anything) – they ship anywhere and sometimes shipping is free. It costs $24.99 a year for their membership and you do get a 10% discount on everything, but the best part I love is that you get a 90 DAY RETURN policy on all of their shoes. So if you do not like them or not happy with them, you can return them for another pair or a different brand of shoe, no questions asked. Anyways, just a suggestion. Happy running!!

Posted by Agent Orange Blossom - 02/09/2011 02:34 PM

Interesting thread…
I’ve been wearing VFF’s for 6 years every day and yes I understand that VFF’s are not for everybody. Before I had VFF’s I was already a barefoot runner and the VFF’s provided me the extra protection I needed… No more chard of glass in my skin… I always warn my friends about adapting to VFF’s. This footwear does not make you Superman or Superwoman; your feet do. It takes time to develop the proper barefoot walking & running form, from 3 months to a year and the transition is not always easy as it’s always very tempting to over do it. Over time you will develop a keen sense of feel and awareness of your surroundings with your feet. I run trails and always know what’s under my feet without having to look down; there is a great connection with earth. Again, VFF’s are not for everybody but if they are for you they are an amazing tool. For those who can, enjoy your barefoot experience. Happy Trails.

Posted by Overweight and middle aged - 02/09/2011 04:49 PM

Couldn’t run more than 5 minutes at a time with regular sneaks. Son encouraged me to try fivefingers. Can run for half hour (and am increasing my time) without breathlessness or pain.

As for the complaints of others, most problems seem to be that folks purchased the wrong size or style for the activity they want to do, or didn’t take the time to re-learn to walk and run in these minimal shoes.

As for the shoes not being for running, look at the type of shoe sprinters wear. Running flats are pretty minimal. There is a “running” style of fivefingers called Bikila. I use the KSOs on a treadmill (and elliptical) and love it!

Posted by AgentOrangeBlossom - 02/10/2011 01:24 AM

Some people love them and some people hate them;
VFF’s are an amazing piece of footwear for avid bare-footers.
There is not a day that I am not being asked about the VFF’s comfort etc. In a nutshell here are my answers:

VFF“s are footwear not a shoe or sneaker.
Your feet will provide the support, not your VFF’s.
VFF’s are protection for the sole of your feet, nothing less and nothing more.
Learning to walk and run barefoot require training and time; you try too much you will get hurt.
There are different styles of VFF’s for different type of activities.
VFF’s are not waterproof, your feet are.
Wearing VFF’s does not make you Superman or Superwoman; you feet will once retrained properly.
VFF’s also look pretty cool.

Posted by AgentOrangeBlossom - 02/10/2011 04:02 PM

Actually Shafiq most flat footed people who wear VFF’s recover nicely after 6 months of use and develop an arch ….

Posted by Thomas J. - 02/17/2011 02:13 PM

update:

Still recovering from my broken leg and truly love my VFF KSO Treks. Still limited by Drs to running no more then 15 mins, getting about 1.86 miles consistently. Still a lil sore and achy but not on my good leg so I’m attributing it to my leg getting use to the impact and stress of running. Not the shoes. I don’t believe I’ve even put on “normal” shoes since purchasing these (besides my boots for work).

Happy running/walking/therapy/life

Posted by luke c - 02/18/2011 07:18 AM

@Stephen Regenold and @toby, acually, you can wear them with socks, i do, i wear toe-toe socks, i have a pair of KSO. they are made to be worn with or without socks, that choice is up to you.

Posted by eric doucet - 02/23/2011 01:23 AM

Ive had issue with 4 pairs 1 pair bikila 3 days toes unglued. 2nd pair bikila same thing sole separate right off. for my 3rd pair i exchange for kso instead no toe separation but pull tab came stitching came apart after 2h . 4th pair kso mailed to me same size but material is so tight i manege to get foot in i can only where for 5 min and my foot goes lil numb am tired dealing with the company not sure i will buy another pair seems a lot factory defects and inconsistency i am pissed off at them and i want my money back
such peace of garbage and no i am not a spammer or getting paid for this i am a pissed off consumer and will wright this where ever i can find a revue don’t buy this crap

Posted by Shawn - 02/23/2011 03:17 PM

I am an Active Duty Marine and I run atleast 10 miles a week and burn thought a pair of shoes every six months it seems like. Am I really getting my moneys worth when it comes to rubber lasting? I am looking into a pair for all the reason barefoot running is good for you but I dont want to spend $100 on something that will not last as long.

Posted by James - 03/21/2011 08:48 AM

I’ve just finished my first half Marathon in Vibram bilkas and love them. I’m going to be running my first full marathon in them in 4 weeks. I took my time getting used to them, having got them about 6 months ago. I had a few injures in the first months from running too far, too soon. But they are all good in you build up the distances slowly.

Posted by jordan - 03/21/2011 08:52 AM

I play raquetball pretty frequently. I know they would hold up to court use seeing as how it’s just a wood floor. But how would the traction hold on them?

Posted by Eric - 04/13/2011 09:33 AM

Wait till you clip your little toe on a rock.

Posted by Nathan - 05/03/2011 04:21 PM

I’ve had these shoes for about a year now, used them for trail running every day. i could feel my feee getting much stronger. my knees feel much better.

Contrary to the review, barefoot running actually helps prevent joint stress and injuries, given you must run in proper stride.
Run on the balls of your feet, being careful not to over extend the lower portion of your leg, and you can become a much healthier runner.

Great comfort, great traction, great running!

Enjoy your closer connection to nature, literally!

Posted by Rich - 05/05/2011 10:26 AM

Bought a pair to replace a 15 year old pair of Nike Aqua Socks I use for out door water activities, i.e. beach, boating and float trips (rafts and canoes). They are very comfortable. Hope they last as long as the Nike Aqua Socks. My only complaint is it can be some what time consuming getting them on my feet. I have to work to get my pinkie toe in the correct “finger”. In short, more comfortable than Nike Aqua Socks but less convenient than Nike Aqua Socks. Happy with my purchase.

Posted by Nia - 06/05/2011 12:30 PM

Just hiked 2 miles to waterfall and back with scout troop. We followed the river over rocks and banks. I loved the way my feet could wrap around logs and rocks and I could walk through the water. As over 50 mom, I was more carefree than the boys & dads who had to protect their boots and socks from getting wet. At the falls I had the protection in the water and the grip on wet rocks that the others didn’t. Everyone was impressed. By the time we got back to the vehicles to pick up our packs for our overnight hike, I was tempted to continue to wear my toe shoes. I chickend out since I was to add another 50 lbs to my 200 body. Over dry twigs I was glad I had my boots on but when I got my socks wet in the river I wasn’t sure it was the right choice.

When I first saw the shoes in an ad I had a visceral reaction. My feet wanted them and made me get them. It was funny pulling my toes apart the first time I put them on. By the second time my toes sprung apart and said “I love vibram”. They go on faster than tying sneakers.

The only drawback is the look. In shorts with my black toe shoes my kids roll their eyes and say “are you wearing thooose”. I wish my feet were smaller so I could wear the pretty girl colors but size 10.5 foot makes a girl a monster in the retail business. I always have to buy mens. In shoes this means the heals are always too big. Womens wide feet still have small heals. But, the toe shoes are perfect in the heal for me. I guess since they wrap I don’t flop around in the heals like regular shoes.

I use these for walking the dog, shopping, and especially for gardening. They hose off better than sneakers and they stay on better than gardening clogs.

To clean, I just add them to the wash about once a week and air dry them on the porch.

Posted by TW - 06/08/2011 08:12 PM

I LOVE THESE SHOES!!!

I now own 3 pair and it’s my first choice in just about everything I do. I have a pair for paddle sports (KSO – canoe/kayak/dragon boat). I have a pair for casual wear and one for running. The TrekSport and Komodosport. My fav is the Komodo. It’s the softest and most pliable and the Black/Silver looks good in casual wear.
I plan on getting another pair dedicated to running.

These will toughen you up! start slow and gradually build miles. Give time for tissues to get stronger.

I will never go back to padded training shoes.

Posted by Blake - 06/12/2011 09:33 PM

Do you think the salt water will hurt my ffv kso or no

Posted by Odd - 07/05/2011 08:07 AM

I am flatfooted and have noticed a decrease in pain when walking around barefoot for a summer, getting the hang of setting down the whole foot right; I definitely recommend these shoes for flatfeeted peeps but only if you give it time and invest time for your own comfort!

Posted by Jenny - 07/10/2011 01:10 AM

Nice site. Great article information.

Posted by Forest - 09/26/2011 02:49 AM

I would really love to try a pair. I’m confused how they may fit right for people with different toe lengths. Not everyone conforms to the perfect step.

Cheers,

Forest.
RegularRunner.com

Posted by Jackie - 08/10/2012 10:04 AM

Love them but makes my feet stink!!!!!!! So traded in for a new pair at REI with socks, so see how that goes.

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