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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Workout Wednesday - Vibram Five Fingers

People usually say one of two things when they see me work out. "Man, you are so strong and good looking!" or "What the heck are those things on your feet?" Admittedly, people usually say the latter.
Those "Things" on my feet are called Vibram Fivefingers shoes. They are designed to protect the soles of your feet from the elements while giving you no foot or ankle support. "No foot or ankle support, that's crazy Mike! What about arch support? What about protection from spraining my ankle? Don't your feet hurt in those things? Those things do look really funny!!!" Yeah, yeah, yeah, I've heard it all. Lets delve into why I wear these funny looking things and lets see if they might be an option for you.

1. "5 Reasons to Wear Vibram Fivefingers"

"Strengthens Muscles in the Feet and Lower Legs", "Improves Range of Motion in Ankles, Feet and Toes", "Stimulates Neural Function Important to Balance and Agility", "Eliminate Heel Lift to Align the Spine and Improve Posture", and "Allow the Foot and Body to Move Naturally".
I am sold! I have been wearing these shoes for roughly 4 years and have experienced every one of these positive attributes. You're not sold yet? I wasn't either until I did more research on barefoot training. Please click HERE, HERE, HERE, and watch the following for more information.

According to the Vibram Fivefingers web site, numerous studies and the video above, sounds like training barefoot is pretty good for you. BUT, there are some caveats.
  1. It takes a while for your feet to adapt to barefoot training. When I first started wearing them my feet and calves were VERY sore. But after a month or two of training, with proper programing and rest, my legs became stronger and I now have no soreness from training barefoot.
  2. If you are not careful, you can injure yourself by suddenly converting to barefoot training. Think about it this way; if you have been wearing regular running shoes with an arch support all your life your arches have become weak over time because your plantar fascia has not had to support your body over the years. Your sneakers have been doing all the supportive work. If you suddenly place a large load on that tissue, like barefoot running, bad things can happen, like developing Plantar Fasciitis.
  3. I believe barefoot training is NOT for everyone! I cannot stress this enough. There are many people with pre-existing injuries and conditions that require support from footwear.
I believe there are many positives to training barefoot. I have been training barefoot for about 4 years and love it. I do believe the majority of the population would benefit from wearing minimal footwear. If you decide to experiment with barefoot training, it is very important to start slowly and use a proper training program with enough rest so the tissues in your feet can recover, especially if you have been wearing protective shoes your entire life. Barefoot training is not for everyone! If you are injury free and feel good about your training shoes, keep wearing them. If it's not broke, don't fix it! But if you want to add a different element to your training, why not give them a try?

What do you think about barefoot training? Post your thoughts to Comments...


love barefoot training. I have been doing distance running in Vibrams for 2 years now (including a marathon). But be careful, very easy to get hurt if not introduced properly (from personal experience). Highly recommended!

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