Friday, June 8, 2012

Vibram & Five Finger Running Shoes

What's your take on the minimalist shoes?  I've had too many (specifically) feet and ankle injuries in my career to count.  On-line reviews say they are (given time and patience) good for preventing injuries.

Has anyone worn them or have "dirt" on the shoes?  What models suited you?

The only one at our group to have worn them (that I know of) is Steve W.

I have a super high arch, have super wide toes, and am a natural sprinter.  This long distance stuff came with some practice.  I'm sick and tired of getting 200 miles at best in a decent pair of shoes, and at that my pinky toes busting out of the sides or the cushion just feel dead flat in the shoes. 

Comments appreciated.



Brian Godsey said...

As a forefoot runner, I've been paying somewhat close attention to the discussion about barefoot and "minimalist" running, partially because a faster, more educated (in physiology) friend of mine told me that forefoot striking is not good.

Anyway, the summary of everything I've read is: [nearly] barefoot running has a lot of advantages, including decreasing the maximum forces on joints and bones, strengthening foot muscles, and being more similar to the way humans evolved to run before there were shoes. However, all scientific studies that I've seen have been very specific and under controlled circumstances, so no one can say that such shoes are better for the population at large.

With that being said, my opinion about the best way to proceed is: if you're so inclined, go ahead and try some minimalist shoes, but don't wear them very much at first and don't wear them on hard surfaces. Humans may have evolved to run barefoot, but those humans didn't grow up wearing shoes and then suddenly switch to barefoot running, and they certainly didn't evolve on concrete. Your foot and lower leg muscles will need time to adapt to the new shoes and running style. I would recommend running in them only 10min at a time on grass or dirt for the first couple of weeks until you figure out what works and what doesn't. After a few weeks, you might feel like you can do a whole run in them, and you can go from there, possibly (and very cautiously) moving to harder surfaces.

I, personally, won't bother with Five Fingers or similar shoes, mainly because even though I don't need much/any support in my shoes, I like having a nice fluffy cushion between my feet and the ground. It feels nice especially when I'm having an off-day and not running smoothly, but also because coming down with your heel on concrete even once can cause bruising. Oh, and there's a study that showed that even a forefoot strike has enough impact to destroy red blood cells in your foot, possibly causing anemia or similar problems.

I hope that helps!

Dart said...

Thanks BG for all the thoughts and insight. I started my distance running wearing only Nike Pegasus and never got injured. At some point along the way I ventured a jab at just about every other type of running shoe (almost all except for converse and adidas, although they would have been included if I was logging mileage at an earlier age).

So I'm hesitant because of the damage they can do and the horror stories, but also super curious and interested in the possible longer-term success it may offer.

Andrew Jaffe said...

I have a pair of 5 fingers (one of the first models before they had "running-specific" ones) that I was running in about once a week, but haven't run with them in a while. I could imagine them being a little friendlier on dirt or grass, but it wasn't that fun running around the promenade. I naturally have a bit of pronation and a midfoot strike

I also started running with them basically out of the box without much build-up, but only my Achilles and calves were a little sore, which is probably not what you're supposed to do.

REI occasionally has various models on closeout (I saw them as low as $40 a few months ago) and almost considered picking up a second pair. They're definitely worth trying on in person, and not ordering online, as the sizing is pretty arbitrary.

Also, I personally think they're very comfortable and actually enjoy wearing them at the gym for lifting and core work

Dart said...

Thanks Beef.

I tried a pair of Vibrams on at REI this weekend, but I'm not ready to purchase a specific pair just yet (and was pushed for time).

Any experience with Newton minimalist? I saw quite a few of them at Boston, and spoke with a few guys who say they like them (and they push you forward for "up on calf feel").

Either way, I'm on the comeback trail and it's at least a sign of health that I'm in the arena of buying a new shoes.

Brian Godsey said...

I don't know anything about those shoes, but I've been running "up on my calves" for 15 years now and I still have issues with muscle and tendon strains and inflammation that are---depending on how you look at it---either because of or in spite of my running style. It might be good for you if you transition slowly, or if you wear the shoes casually as Beef does, but a sudden change begs for an injury.

///MM said...

I've had a pair of Newtons and they definitely force you way up on your forefoot. I strike pretty far forward anyway and the Newtons still usually work my calves pretty good. They will have a little more cushion than the other minimalist shoes just because they still have the Newton "lever" things up there, just zero heel cushion instead of fake heel cushion like regular Newtons.
Everything BG said is spot on. I wouldn't wear any of those things for runs of an appreciable distance on concrete. Track or woods, sure, but even in thinner flats my forefoot starts to get sore from impacting the concrete. Never had any joint issues at all since getting off my heels but it took probably a year of work to get my calves strong enough to handle running longer distances.

Dart said...

Thanks Guys. Good info here. Much appreciated.

Claire said...

People here in Flagstaff have been into the minimal shoes before they were popular. I've seen people run on all types of terrain (roads, rocky trails) for all types of distances in them(track workouts, 50 milers).
Another trend in trail racing is the moon shoe, hoka one one, people that wear them say they are the most comfortable shoe and they seem pretty far from minimalist. So I think it's all about what works for you.
As mentioned by others, if you do switch to minimalist shoes take your time easing into them as it takes a few months for you to adjust. Brooks makes some nicely cushioned lower drop shoes in the pure line, they might be a good introduction to minimalist running. I have some pure grits and they are great. Inov8 also has some great minimalist shoes that I enjoy as well, f lite 195.

Dart said...

Thanks Claire Bear!!