Do you like to kick off your shoes after a hard day's work? Most of us find that we are much more comfortable sans footwear, but we wouldn't dare go out barefooted because of comfort, safety or social reasons. Until recently, there was no real alternative to putting on bulky shoes or boots. It is true that sandals and flip-flops are great for casual wear, but they still don't feel totally natural. But now, thanks to Vibram, you can combine the comfort and freedom of going barefoot with the protection of wearing a shoe.
Imagine a glove for your feet. Think of how that would feel. To me, this is exactly what I experience when I slip on my Vibram KSO's. I've been wearing these so long that a regular shoe feels like a prison for my feet. Although these are primarily designed as alternative active wear, they are perfect for everyday activities such as driving, doing housework or just lounging. They do feel a little odd at first, but Vibram sizing is easy. However, you should go to a store that sells these when you first try them so you can accustom yourself to the feel and ensure that you are getting the right shoe for your needs. REI is a particularly good choice because of their generous return policy.
Foot and Leg Health
There is plenty of discussion as to whether wearing barefoot shoes is better for foot and leg health. I do not want to get into the details of that here, but I can tell you that my own experience has been that my legs and feet feel better after having adjusted to wearing Five Fingers. The matter of adjustment is an important one, and Vibram goes to great pains to advise consumers of the need to break these in slowly so as to give your feet time to adjust. I ignored this advice and jumped rope the first time I put them on. My knee popped and I had a few weeks of discomfort, so it is very important to take the need to slowly work into an active routine with these. At this point, I cannot imagine going back to regular footwear for most of my workout routines.
Cleaning Five Fingers
Most people wear their Five Fingers without socks but there are some manufacturers that do make socks for use with them. I bought a couple of pairs of Injinji toe socks in the original weight and I find them to be great when a little extra cushioning is needed, but I do not wear them all the time. The only real problem with this sockless scenario is that over time the Five Fingers will start to smell. They are designed to be anti-microbial, and it took a long time for mine to develop an odor, but they finally did. For the most part, a simple wash in the washing machine is enough. All you have to do is throw them in with your clothes. It should be mentioned that you DO NOT want to put these in a hot dryer. I have put mine in a dryer on low heat sometimes, but you should do this at your own risk. Sometimes machine washing does not work and you will have to resort to hand washing. I haven't had to do this very often, but this will depend on the individual. You have probably heard the old saying about sunlight being the best disinfectant, and I have found this to be true. If the sun is shining, simply put your shoes out where they can be fully exposed to sun and air and this will usually do the trick.
Like most people, I was somewhat skeptical about Five Fingers when I first became aware of them. But now I cannot imagine not having a pair or two. They just feel more natural and I can tell you that wearing them has definitely increased my enjoyment of working out and other daily activities.
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(price as of Mar 14, 2014)