Saturday, March 6, 2010

Vibram Five Fingers: I Love Them, I Love Them, I LOVE THEM

I've been meaning to post a follow up to my first post about Vibram Five Fingers but a few things got in my way. The main one is that I'm so busy walking and walking and walking thanks to this wondrous footgear that I don't have much time for reviewing. But as I noted in that first post, the good folks at Vibram sent me a pair and I promised to write about my experience. I want to emphasize (<-- with italics and everything) that I did not commit to writing a glowing review. And even though I would've felt bad if I hated the shoes, I would've said something truthful but nice. Happily, since I am as in love with these gorilla feet as I am with the dogs (okay, not really but you get the idea) there will be no damning with faint praise. I am here to praise and recommend.

That's not to say I didn't have some troubles with the shoes. In fact I did. Well, just one of them-- the right one. Here's what happened: After the first week or so, the right shoe was really rubbing in the back. I mean serious friction. Like horny teenagers in a borrowed car. This caused me considerable pain. Suspecting that the problem might be more related to my foot than any flaw in the shoe, I wanted to test that theory. There's not a lot of "breaking in" to do with Vibrams. They are super flex from the get-go. But the way they stay on is courtesy of an elastic cord, and my little elastic-adjusting toggle was set as loose as it could be and still, the fit was super tight. Rub rub rub. Ouch ouch ouch. I tried stretching the shoe by pulling on it and then wedging-- I kid you not-- an itty-bitty twig between the elastic and the back of the shoe. This helped a little. In the end though, it came down to My Right Foot, which, while not an entire 1/2 size bigger than the left, is somewhat bigger, which I attribute to the surgical reconstruction back in 2005.

I stuck with the shoes, somedays hobbling along, until the day came-- PTL!!-- when at long last, that right shoe did loosen up just enough and fit like a glove. Not an OJ Simpson glove. A proper glove. The sort of glove we refer to when we say, "Fits like a glove."

How to describe how overjoyed I am that my Vibrams and I have come to this place? Yes, yes, they still look as goofy as ever. And as I predicted they might, they certainly prompt plenty of conversations with strangers. Lots of folks have heard of the shoes but not seen them, and they have vague ideas (often not exactly right) about how they "work." The truth is, they "work" by letting your feet do the work they were designed to. Your arch begins arching of its own accord again, not reliant on some artificial arch in a shoe. You land more on the ball of your foot than your heel. Come to think of it, *I* don't even know the full mechanics. I just know how they feel.


I recently increased my walking distance-- doubling from 30 minutes to an hour whenever I can. Back in the old days walking an hour was nothing. But I've been cautious since the surgery. Now I'm testing out longer walks again and so far, so good. It's like walking barefoot, which I love, except you have a nice little layer between foot and pebbles or burrs or whatever.

Another funny thing-- when I'm inside the house, I am 99% of the time either barefoot or wearing a pair of handknitted socks. There is no place for shoes in my indoor life. Except now-- the way the shoes separate my toes feels so good that the other morning I found myself putting the Vibrams on even though I wasn't going anywhere. I just wanted that each-toe-gets-a-hug-every-minute-of-everyday feel.

So there you go. My Vibram update. Go get yourself a pair. They have them at Whole Earth and REI. Make sure you get the right size. And-- one last thing: if you get the synthetic ones (which I have) you can TOSS THEM IN THE WASHER. I just tested this out, too, and they came out all sparkly clean and totally intact.

Thank you Vibram. Too bad I can't wear them on the Red Carpet. (But that's just because I don't get Red Carpet invites.)


justin said...

I think Classics just keep breaking in for the life of the shoe ... my most comfortable pair of Classics (I have three pairs now!) are my oldest and they are the flimsiest of them all.

Most recently, I cut the bungee chord on a pair and find that they are every so slightly even more comfortable than just leaving the bungee at it's loosest setting (but they still stay on fine for regular walking).

Anyway, I'll be picking up your review in my weekly round-up of Five Fingers reviews (published Sundays) over at birthdayshoes (the unofficial fan site for Vibram Five Fingers).

Stroll on over and say "hello!"

Justin @ birthdayshoes

Snake said...

My husband has been coveting a pair for ages. I might have to surprise him on his birthday.