Since the launch of Vibram FiveFingers® in 2006, the concept of minimalism,
and minimalist running in particular, has spawned a recurring public debate.
So, how are we supposed to do this minimalist/barefoot thing?
The truth is, there isn’t a single correct approach – it’s probably
more complicated than that. However, as one of the prominent leaders in this movement,
we want to give you Vibram’s take on it. We believe that moving and running
in Vibram FiveFingers® can make us healthier, happier, and more connected to our bodies.
We hope the following information will help you discover how YOU can safely
explore the joys of natural movement.
Wearing Vibram FiveFingers® for running, fitness training, water sports or just for fun
will make your feet stronger and healthier—naturally. And while we do love
our Vibram FiveFingers®, we don’t believe it is the only footwear you
will ever need. There are many times when you need the protection and security of
a shoe or boot. Like all things in life, there is a balance, and Vibram FiveFingers®
provides a healthy alternative to traditional footwear. Following the tips below
will allow you to make the switch to Vibram FiveFingers® more comfortably, safely and effectively.
- Listen to your feet! Switching to Vibram FiveFingers® from
traditional shoes is a transition that may take time. For some, it is a matter of
weeks, for others months, and for a few it could be a year or more. Much is dependent
on your foot type, the activities you’re using Vibram FiveFingers® for, and the amount
of pronation you experience. The progression will ultimately be worth the wait,
and your foot and body will be stronger and better off for it. The answer lies in
your inherent foot and body biomechanics and the condition of your muscles. Just
remember, improving the skill of those muscles then practicing and using those muscles
in Vibram FiveFingers® will increase both endurance and strength. This will
have profound beneficial effects on your body and wellbeing. Listen to your body.
- Stop if your arches or the top of your foot is hurting,
or if anything else hurts! Remember to transition slowly to Vibram FiveFingers
in order to build strength in your lower legs and feet and to minimize discomfort.
An adjustment period is normal, and any discomfort should decrease after a week
or two of use. When running in FiveFingers®, sometimes arch and foot pain occurs
from landing with your feet too far forward relative to your hips and having to
point your toes too much. It can also occur from landing with too rigid a foot and
not letting your heel drop gently.
-Stop and let your body heal if you experience pain. Sore, tired
muscles are normal; bone, joint, or soft-tissue pain is a signal of injury.
-In the beginning, remember to carry your traditional footwear in your hands
as a backup. If you need to stop in the middle of a workout, you can
put on your cushioned running shoes and continue with your activity.
Step 1: Understand Your Feet
Vibram Fivefingers® assists the natural form and function of your foot. Before
you make the transition to wearing Vibram FiveFingers®, it is important to familiarize yourself
with your bare foot through our series of sensory exercises rovided by our fitness
advisor Stacey Lei Krauss.
Your feet contain 52 bones, 66 joints, 40 muscles, and hundreds of sensory receptors,
tendons, and ligaments—collectively forming two of the body’s most
beautifully efficient mechanisms.Yet most people assume
that there is something inherently “wrong” with their feet: too wide,
too narrow, arches too high or flat, etc. Traditional shoes have become a way of
“fixing” these assumed abnormalities. And, as a result, the powerful
architecture of our feet has become hidden, disliked, and incredibly sensitive –
even weakened. Feet have taken the brunt of a cultural notion that your foot is
“wrong;” that corrective shoes will make it “right.”
By practicing our recommended sensory exercises, you’ll rediscover the vast
potential of your feet and come to a better understanding of how they look, feel,
and perform – before and after making the switch to Vibram FiveFingers®.
Step 2: Try Different Surfaces
Walk, feel, explore. Your feet will determine the pace of your progress.
The thin, flexible, and deconstructed sole of your Vibram FiveFingers® allows
the foot to curl and flex. The five toes are separate—just like your feet!Because
of these features,every step taken in Vibram FiveFingers® is a lesson in texture,
temperature, and biomechanics.
Your feet are excellent at collecting information. Thousands of neurological receptors
send valuable information to the brain to tell your body where it is in space and
what the terrain is like. Actively stimulating these receptors improves balance,
increases circulation, and enhances overall foot health.
• First, start by practicing our recommended sensory exercises and notice how your entire foot feels.
• Next, walk on different surfaces. This
is one of the most obvious and easiest ways to stimulate and exercise the foot.
With bare feet or in Vibram FiveFingers®, explore your home and its surroundings.
Notice how your feet feel on smooth vs. rough surfaces and try to sense/recognize
the signals that your feet send to your brain.
You’ll probably notice that your foot strike and stride instinctively adjust
to different surfaces. Experiment in a safe, controlled way on grass, carpeting,
pavement, dirt, pebbles, and smooth rock—keeping your eyes open for potential
hazards or unfriendly objects.
Step 3: Foot Fitness Program
2-week strength training program.
Now that you have begun to familiarize yourself with your feet, you’ve probably
noticed that they are pretty weak. Maybe it’s hard to spread or control your
toes? Perhaps being barefoot for an extended amount of time leaves your feet sore
or tired? To safely begin the transition to wearing Vibram FiveFingers®
for running and fitness, we highly recommend the following foot strengthening
Practice the exercises below in 3 sets of 20 reps, 3-5X/week for 2 weeks.
Your feet may feel tired afterwards, but you should not be in pain. Ultimately,
this series of exercises will be part of your warm-up routine.
1. Heel raise
2. Toe grip
3. Dorsi/plantar flexion
4. Toe spread/tap
5. Exaggerated eversion/inversion
6. Grabbing a towel on the floor with toes and pass to other foot
7. Walking in Vibram FiveFingers®: never underestimate the power of just being barefoot
or in Vibram FiveFingers®. One- to two-hour intervals of general day-to-day activity in
your Vibram FiveFingers® is an excellent way to slowly build the small muscles in the feet
Making The Switch To Vibram FiveFingers®
Rule #1: Always listen to your body.
Everybody’s feet are different, so it’s important to listen to yours,
as you make the transition to wearing Vibram FiveFingers®. Here are some
frequently asked questions about running and exercising in Vibram FiveFingers®
with answers supplied by the Vibram Medical Advisory Board. For additional information,
visit the FAQ
section of our web site.
How long will it take to transition to Vibram FiveFingers®?
For some, it is a matter of weeks, for others months, and for a few it could be
a year or more. Much is dependent on your foot type, the activities you're using
Vibram FiveFingers® for, and the amount of pronation you experience. The progression
will ultimately be worth the wait, and your foot and body will be stronger and better
off for it. The answer lies in your inherent foot and body biomechcanics and the
condition of your muscles. Just remember, improving the skill of those muscles then
practicing and using those muscles in Vibram FiveFingers® will increase both endurance
and strength. This will have profound beneficial effects on your body and wellbeing.
Listen to your body.
My feet hurt after wearing Vibram FiveFingers®. Is this normal?
An adjustment period is normal at first as your feet and lower legs increase strength
and mobility. This should decrease after a week or two of use. Remember to transition
slowly to build the strength in your lower legs and feet and to minimize discomfort.
I wear orthotics. Can I still wear Vibram FiveFingers®?
Vibram FiveFingers® are designed to promote better foot mechanics—naturally.
As such, they’re meant to be worn directly against the sole of your foot,
allowing your foot to move as if barefoot. An orthotic is an assistive device to
support your foot's function and help you compensate for any biological aberrations.
Attempting to utilize an orthotic with Vibram FiveFingers® would defeat their purpose.
If you have an extremely flat foot, you will need to work into wearing your Vibram
FiveFingers® gradually, as your muscles will need time to adapt and strengthen.