If you are an avid athlete you probably are familiar with how after a long run or workout, how crappy your feet feel (and smell). The reason that it feels like your tendons have been yarded around in a very unnatural way is the fact that they basically have been. This logically makes sense; our bodies were not designed to wear shoes.
We have come a long way from 40,000 years ago when we wore rope sandals to the Nike's we wear today. While modern shoes protect our feet from the elements and rough terrain, many athletes prefer running barefoot or wear barefoot running shoes claiming that it is better for their tendons and overall health. I decided to explore for myself using Vibram barefoot running shoes, specifically with the Vibram KSO, and Vibram KSO Trek Sport models.
What are Vibram Barefoot Running Shoes?
In case you are wondering, those are my feet modeling the Vibram Five Fingers KSO (Keep Stuff Out). Vibram Barefoot running shoes are kind of funny looking the first time you see them. This was my first pair of Vibram barefoot running shoes. I picked this model because this is basically the all-round model, it keeps stuff out (handy for when I run on mulch trials), and they are waterproof. There are different models of Vibram barefoot running shoes to suit basically any of your needs. Some of the other models are:
Bikila, MOC, Sprint, KSO Trek, Trek Sport (My Favorite), Smartwool, Performa, Flow, and Classic.
On the bottom of the KSO Vibram barefoot running shoe wrapping over the toenail area is a performance rubber that protects the bottom of your feet, yet has a snug fit and allows your foot to have a full range of motion. As you can see there are individual toe slots which can be a little tricky to get your toes into at first. It does get easier to fit your toes in, and the freedom to move them around is well worth the initial hassle of getting them on. On the top part of the KSO Vibram Barefoot running shoes are a stretch nylon and breathable mesh.
The other models are made of different materials and have different styles according to the use that they are more suited for. I personally use Vibram barefoot running shoes for Crossfit, trail running, and will be wearing them in various endurance events. For the hell I put my feet through my personal choice of shoe is the Vibram KSO Trek Sport.
The Vibram KSO Trek Sport
The reason that I prefer the Vibram KSO Trek Sport is the fact that it is almost as versatile as the KSO model, but also has the advantage of having a little bit more padding on the bottom of the foot. The padding on the bottom of the Vibram KSO Trek sport looks more like a traditional running shoe and even is individually fastened to each toe.
The only negative feedback I have heard about this model is that it is not as durable as others due to the coconut carbon fiber separating from the toes. I personally have not had this problem, and tend to chew through shoes rather quickly anyways, so this is not much of a concern to me.
My Overall Impression of Vibram Barefoot Running Shoes
Whether wearing the Vibram KSO, or Vibram KSO Trek Sport my feet do not feel cramped at all after I finish running or working out. These shoes are a huge attention grabber wherever you go and will get a few people chuckling and a few asking where to get them.
Running: Wearing Vibram barefoot running shoes will take a bit of an adjustment period. You will be forced to correct your form, as you do not have the option of landing directly on your heels when you wear these unless you want some brutal heel bruising. At the end of the day, this is a good thing...wearing cushy running shoes lets you get a little to lazy. I found that I engaged my calves a lot more.
In a Gym Environment: You can not beat these in a gym setting. My Vibram barefoot running shoes grip the floor perfectly. I have suffered from a bad left knee for years, and along with a proper treatment plan/ wearing these shoes I have noticed a huge improvement.
Quality: I have only owned my Vibram barefoot running shoes for a few months and have not any any issues yet. If any pop up I will update it on here.
Style: I know, I know...running shoes aren't about style, they are about functionality. These shoes are highly functional and look really cool. So i guess you can "have your cake and eat it too". I have been at the butt end of a few jokes for wearing these, but the funny thing is a few of the people who were dishing out the jokes are wearing Vibram's now as well.
Barefoot running shoes are not for everyone, my suggestion would be to some light exercise barefoot before making a purchase to see how you like it. If you decide that you want to try out a pair of Vibram barefoot running shoes, they start at $75.00.
*Before you decide to make a purchase, make sure that you are not buying a knock-off pair of Vibram's, as there is no shortage of these around.