Some months back we’d said we wanted to review the Vibram Five Finger shoes. Its taken us some time to get to our first product review, but that additional or extended time has allowed us to also put the Five Finger shoes to a extended battery of uses.
So what is the Vibram Five Fingers? Well some of you may not have seen these (although we doubt it), these are have been around from some time now, but their use in the fitness world has been newer. By looking at an image of the shoe you can see that they are basically a minimalist shoe. There really isn’t much between the sole of your feet and the ground, which allows your foot to really work. In the book Tread Lightly, the adverse effects of having such bulky and rigid shoes is discussed. When we have shoes that make our feet feel like they are walking on clouds, it means our feet aren’t working, stretching, adapting to the terrain and thus actually makes your feet weak and more susceptible to injuries.
We first heard of the shoes as it was spoken about in the book Born To Run, where minimalist and barefoot runner “Barefoot” Ted McDonald was discussed trying them. Some find them ideal for a minimalist running shoe, but everyone says if you opt to make these your primary running shoes you really need to ease into that.
We are not suggesting you use these for running shoes! However you can if that is your desire. We are looking at how these shoes can benefit us rugby players in training? And thus we are looking at these shoes as an option for the gym.
You really want to have your feet pressed into the ground for so many lifts in the gym. Too many people wear tennis, cross trainers, or running shoes to workout. Some of that is because a lot of traditional gyms won’t let you go barefoot, and we’d agree. Not because you could injure your foot (lets be honest you drop a 45lb plate you your toe, your running shoes aren’t going to do much to protect them). We say avoid total barefoot as you are at risk for picking up things at a gym like athletes food, toe nail fungus, or worse a Staph infection!
You can spend hundreds of dollars on proper weightlifting shoes which are solid and replicate being on a flat floor, but unless you are training for power-lifting, your workouts will be too versatile to lumber around in those.
We always liked to use the old Chuck Taylors, but recently Converse change the deign to the Chucks and has added additional cushion which most in the lifting or strength training/coaching are not happy with. So what options are left???
That’s where the Vibram Five Fingers can come in as an option. Again we are not promoting these for running, for example someone like a large prop may experience more injuries and issues trying to suddenly run in a pair of these. What anyone can do is to wear these for lifting.
We’ve tested these things out on a number of different workouts and they work fine. They allow your feed to really be in contact with the floor and are the closest thing to being barefoot. We’ve used these with a range of Kettlebell workouts and they work really well, as it allows you to really feel the shifts in your feed and have your feet do some work. We’ve used them in the more traditional lifts like the dead lifts, and its like being in socks (but you don’t slip), or barefoot without having to risk the staph infection.
They also are great for things like squats, standing presses, as again your feet are 100% planted, and it allows you to do a better job of locking in your feet and getting the torque that you should get with such lifts. Remember getting your foot in the right position, is important and with these shoes your feet can really feel the work they are doing.
Having on a pair of Vibram Five Fingers also lets you do other movements in your workout without having to stop and put on shoes (which you’ would if barefoot). You can do a circuit with transition to things like farmer walks, etc. You can jump on the sled which we love, or just any other variety in your workout without having to change shoes throughout your workout.
So we do recommend the Vibram Five Fingers, as a safer alternative to being barefoot in the gym, as a true minimal shoe over the new Chucks, and way better than your regular running shoe for the lifting. Lastly they are way way cheaper than those bulky lifting shoes.
To start we suggest you purchase the cheapest set initially, and see how they work for you. You do want to wear them regularly (even around the house) to break them in. If you opt for the five finger socks which we haven’t tried (you will need to get a size bigger as these are a snug fit).
You can order them online, but with these we really think you need to try them on first (and then maybe order the size you need on-line). You need to get the exact measurements on these (that’s how they work); you can’t round to a size.