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Vibram Five Fingers
Vibram Five Fingers Classic Review

The Vibram Five Fingers Classic are the next best thing to going barefoot.  The "shoe" has individual toe slots to allow
your foot control and stability that only comes from being barefoot.  The upper is made of an elastic fabric that stretches
and wraps around your foot.  The soles of course are
Vibram and are made with a nonmarking rubber.  The shoes also
have slits in the bottom of the soles to increase traction.  Vibram states that the shoes help promote proper balance and
expanded range of motion that will help strengthen your feet.

Vibram makes the Five Fingers in three different styles, the KSO Model (Keep Stuff Out), Sprint Model, used for running
and that have an elastic strap over the top of the foot and finally the Classic Model.  Even though I bought the Vibrams
for running, I went with the Classic Model as I had heard that the strap on the Sprint Model can be a bit uncomfortable
and so far I can't say that I have had an issue with the shoe slipping

The Vibram Five Fingers (VFF) have a thin rubber sole but no cushioning, thus when you go for a run in the VFF it will
feel similar to running barefoot, however you will have thin sole that will protect your foot from glass and small rocks.  I
would recommend that you start off slowly in the VFF and stay on grass, increasing your mileage gradually.

The VFF also have a plastic draw string on the back of the shoe to tighten the shoe. The first few times I ran in the VFF I
used the string to tighten the shoe, but eventually I realized that I had no need to tighten the shoe, in fact tightening the
shoe only made it more uncomfortable.

I am a neutral runner and land on my mid-foot, thus running in the Vibrams was not a significant change for me.  What I
do notice is my form changes slightly, I straighten up and get up on my toes. The first week with the VFF, I did a two mile
run; another two mile run and a four mile run with no problems.  However, I ran entirely on the grass on the outside edge
of a park. I have read stories of people experiencing some calf pain the first few times running in the VFF, but my guess
is those are runners who were landing on their heel before and now having to land on their mid foot were in for a big
surprise.

The following week, I ran another four miler and did a seven miler two days after the four miler with relative ease.  At the
end of the seven mile run, my feet were a tad sore but I had no discomfort the next day.  Running on concrete and
asphalt is still too difficult for me, but I imagine if you did it enough your feet and legs would gain the necessary strength.

My assumption is if you are a runner that lands on your heels that the VFF will take some getting used to and will
probably be uncomfortable at first, as your form will totally change as you will not land on your heel when running
barefoot or with the VFF, instead you will land on your mid foot, on the fat/plush part of your foot.  However, people who
do land on their heel probably have the most to benefit from wearing the VFF.

A few years ago, I had plantar fasciitis at a time when I was running only 10-15 miles per week and doing zero racing.  I
remember thinking at the time how odd it was that I got a running related injury at a point in my life when I was running
the least amount of mileage that I had in the last ten years.  I visited a Podiatrist and of course he recommended
orthotics.  I picked up a pair for my work shoes and my running shoes.  I also bought a pair of night splints, did all of the
exercises and wore shoes at all times and avoided sandals per my Doctors advice.

My plantar fasciitis eventually went away but after I gave up on all the advice  and products that my Podiatrist at given
me.  But, it got me to thinking, I remember my Doctor telling me to avoid going barefoot in the house to alleviate the
plantar fasciitis, thinking about it now, it just doesn't make sense?  If my feet hurt after going barefoot for five minutes in
the house, now I think logically that my feet had to have been weak.  Most likely due to the shoes I wore all the time, thus
my foot was getting cast and the muscles were atrophying.  

Eventually I came across an
article a year from an Orthopedic Surgeon stating that most foot problems were caused by
the shoes themselves and how indigenous tribes that are barefoot never have feet problem such as plantar fasciitis.

I then met Chris McDougal and read his book "Born to Run"  and for me it was preaching to the choir, I was the choir.
Over the past year I have moved from regular cushioned shoes to using performance trainers exclusively.  My plan now
is to move to even lighter and lower profile shoes over the next year, essentially heavier weight racing flats in the eight
ounce range.  However, when I heard about the VFF I was intrigued and finally paid the $75 to own a pair. So far, I think
the "shoes" are fantastic and I really enjoy running in them and plan on getting about 15%-20% of my weekly mileage in
the VFF.  In addition, I am going barefoot all the time in the house in hopes of strengthening my feet.

The first few runs in the VFF were on a rainy night, it was pure bliss running through the wet grass, it reminded me of all
the reasons that I loved to run.  I've also been using the VFF to do yard work and for walks around the neighborhood,
but highly doubt that I will wear them in public.  I already get idiosyncratic looks when I'm out running in them, but if
attention seeking appeals to you, you will definitely get it and the questions that follow by slipping on a pair of VFF.

The VFF are a bit laborious to get on your feet, instead of the normal five seconds to put on a pair of shoes it probably
takes me about thirty seconds to put each VFF on my foot.  The big toe and the two toes next to it go in rather easily,
but I have to manually adjust my foot to get my pinkie toe in.  I have had some mild rubbing on my big toe, just a slight
irritation but that may just take some getting used to.

In conclusion, the VFF are one of the best running products that I have bought in my lifetime.  Pick up a pair, strengthen
your feet and remember what it's like to run "naturally" without a big bulky shoe.