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The Pros and Cons of Vibram Five Fingers - June 11, 2012

The Pros and Cons of Vibram Five Fingers

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by Jason Rockwood, DPM

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Dr. Jason Rockwood DPM of Foot and Ankle Associates

There has been a lot of controversy in the last several years surrounding shoes like the Vibram Five Fingers. This genre of footwear mimics the natural feel and cadence of running barefoot. Many barefoot runners are excited to have a style of shoe that both maintains the barefoot feel and includes an added level of safety. However, there are those on the other side that say runners should take advantage of the technology we have. Traditional running shoes are built to provide comfort and safety for the human foot.

If you're looking to buy a new pair of shoes and are considering a natural feel shoe like Vibrams, there are some pros and cons you should consider:

Pros:

  • It is more natural. Humans survived for thousands of years barefoot running without cushioned soles or laces.

  • Running form. The advancement of running shoes, some argue, has negatively affected the natural rhythm and stride that humans developed. Some injuries can be directly tied to poor running form, allowed by running shoes.

  • Lightweight. Some of these shoes weigh mere ounces, and lower weight can increase speed.

  • Flexibility. Running on awkward terrain can cause people with running shoes to roll their ankles, because regular shoes don’t allow the movement that shoes like Vibrams allow. With a natural feel, the body can maneuver the way it needs to so it can protect itself.

  • Their look (depending on your opinion).

Cons:

  • Not enough cushion. Stress fractures can occur with too much repetitive impact to the foot and ankle. Also, the fat pads on the feet that provide cushioning decrease with age. Older runners require cushioned shoes to make up for this loss.

  • Sizing problems. Everyone’s foot is different. In fact, your own two feet can be different from one another. Vibram and other companies have a very complicated sizing system. It is quite difficult to find the perfect fit for your foot.

  • Smell. Most people do not wear socks with these types of shoes, so they stink.

  • Their look (depending on your opinion).

Further questions regarding barefoot or minimalist running and the best running shoes can be directed to the Foot & Ankle Associates in Santa Fe. We will also invite you to request our free Foot and Ankle Health Book.