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Michelle Davidson(Physical Therapist)answered(1/19/2012)There has been a lot of buzz about the 5 fingers shoes and the minimalist running shoes in general like the Nike Free's--and it it seems to be with good reason. Aside from just altering your running pattern to be more of a forefoot strike versus a heel strike (because hitting your heel in gloved feet would just be plain painful!), these shoes have the potential to decrease the amount of injuries in runners and improve general foot strength and balance when they are used correctly. The decrease in support and the more flexible design of the minimalist shoe allows you to build strength and endurance in the smaller muscles of your feet versus wearing the more supportive shoes that we have all been used to.
The catch, though, is to actually progress to wearing these shoes the right way-- experts in the field say that it can take from six months to a year to be able to fully transition to wearing them in order to avoid further injury to yourself-so take your time!
Carolyn Collman, MS(exercise physiologist, nutritionist, aquatic therapist and wellness coach)answered(7/20/2012)While barefoot running may have its benefits, it isn’t for everyone. Some runners with leg-length discrepancies or fallen arches or those who have run for more than 20 years with highly technical shoes may be in for a rude awakening and injuries if they suddenly shuck their shoes. Even the proponents of barefoot running recommend you start slowly and gradually build up your off-shoe running mileage. The Tarahumara Indians may run barefoot with great success, but they grow up running shoeless. For them, suddenly running with shoes may be as potentially harmful as it is for those who’ve worn shoes for many years to run without them. If you want the explore the benefits of barefoot running without going barefoot (or minimalist) you might Barefoot Science insoles which, according to the manufacturer, duplicate the benefits of barefoot running by simulating running barefoot without actually going shoeless.
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seoultrainanswered(11/10/2011)I switched to Vibram nearly two years ago and love them! I tend to get sore knees when I run, and since switching to *nearly* barefoot running, I can now run longer distances than before (though, at a slower pace). However, barefoot running requires you to change the way you run and your cadence. (With the heel cushioning in typical running shoes, runners tend put a lot of initial impact on their heel. With barefoot running, the balls of your feet will naturally hit the ground first, followed by your heels "kissing" the ground- leading to less impact. You will also run with shorter strides). If you decide to invest in a pair, ease into the running style- start out with only a 1/2 mile at a time and build up from there. If your calf muscles hurt after, that's normal for the first week or two! p.s. They are also great for traveling!
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DaniellePanswered(1/24/2012)I've been running in Vibrams and other minimalist shoes for two years now. I looove how it's changed how I run, but I would give caution - ease into this slowly!
I jumped right into Vibrams and should have considered Nike Frees or Reebox Realflexes (both of which provide more support) first, before moving to Vibrams. I had some minor pulls/injuries which set me back a bit, but since I switched to Reebox Realflexes, I'm running better (and stronger) than ever. I'd suggest getting Frees or Realflexes, trying them out for a few months, and then considering Vibrams. You can get all the Vibram benefits in the first set of shoes, though, as long as you make sure you are striking with your fore/midfoot.
Two other suggestions - read Born to Run (the book that started it all!) simply because it's awesome and will pump you up, and if you can, take a barefoot running lesson to make sure your form is good.