These innovative shoes are a sight to behold. Imagine the hybrid child of toe socks in combination with water shoes!
I came across these puppies a few years ago when I found myself on a flight home from Utah. As I was entering my seat, I happened to glance down at the shoes of lady seated next to me. My first thought was that I had come across some new alien invention. What on earth were these gaudy things? Airport slippers?
Curiosity killed the cat and eventually I had to find out the truth. It turns out that this lady was a professional marathon runner. She had purchased her shoes due to the suggestion of a fellow marathon runner who did all his running bare-foot. (Yes there are people who will run 26.2 miles barefoot!)
Barefoot runners believe that this form of running is healthier and reduces the risk of chronic injuries. The main difference is that shoeless runners put the most force on the balls of their feet, while the rest of us suckers, in padded shoes, put more force on the heels and back of our feet. (Wikipedia )
Vibram FiveFingers gives the benefit of running barefoot with the support of a flexible sole that acts more like a second skin. It looks like these flashy things actually do serve a purpose.
After that encounter, I never forgot those shoes. They left an impression that eventually led to a purchase. Their shoes size is not by US standards; it is identified by the foot’s length in inches. The shoes go up in size to a 12 inch foot, which is the US equivalent to a size 15.
I won’t lie… it takes a little time to get used to these shoes. They are somewhat easy to slip on, but you have to make sure to wiggle each toe into its designated spot. The first week of wear may bring some discomfort. In other words, you become aware that the human foot consists of “26 bones, 33 joints, 20 muscles, and hundreds of sensory receptors, tendons and ligaments” but it’s about time that the feet, like any other muscle in the body, get exercise! (www.vibramfivefingers.com)
They can be worn while doing a variety of sports, which include everything from swimming to hiking (with special shoes for each sport)! I originally bought these shoes as an alternative to sandals, but I have used them for hiking and swimming.
The best part is that these shoes are machine washable and dry quickly.
All credit goes to Tim Ferriss for discovering these old 1905 photographs from the American Journal of Orthopedic Surgery. These photos show the difference between a native from the Phillippines or Central Africa, who walked barefoot and has fanned like feet due to nature of having never wore shoes. The other photograph demonstrates how feet form to the contours of shoes.
The basis for the modern day marathon comes from the legend of how in 490 BC a herald named “Phidippides ran 26.2 miles nonstop from Marathon to Athens to announce the Greek victory and then died on the spot.”