Vibram FiveFingers

Marketed as “the first footwear to offer the sensation of going barefoot with the protection and security of a sole,” Vibram FiveFingers shoe-gloves have a stretchy synthetic upper and a grippy, thin rubber sole. The toe slots are hard to wrangle your piggies into, but once on the shoe fits, well, like a glove.

(Update: New related content, “Sneak Peek: Vibram FiveFingers 2011” line.)

The Sprint model, $80, is made for light hiking, yoga, sailing, surfing, canoeing, and pose method or chi running. Those last two are what I’m interested in, as I’ve been in kind of a barefoot-running phase as of late.

Vibram touts these shoes — which come in three iterations: the Sprint, the boot-like Surge, and the Classic model — 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.

I haven’t tested the shoes enough to call any big conclusions, but my initial impression is that for anyone in good physical condition there could be some plusses here.

Watch for my full review soon.

Here’s the FiveFingers web site: