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Going barefoot, some advice please......

by 6832 · May 16, 2012 at 09:12 PM

I go barefoot as much as possible in the summer months on grass, but I want to extend this to include other surfaces and possibly other seasons.

Does anyone have any honest advice on Vibram's five-finger shoes or similar barefoot simulation footwear? (I will not be running on concrete with them (I read Gillebean's post). I have heard of many people raving about them and read the official blog, but has anyone had any NEGATIVE experiences with them?

Could I tackle a mountain path (rocky) in them for instance?

Does it take long for your feet/body to adjust to having no sole and are there adjustment 'pains' involved?

Are they really worth it or would it actually be more economical to sew my own moccasins out of fine leather? Or should I just stick to my crocs??

Last question: What do people do in the colder months, has anyone come across an all weather boot (snow/rain/mud) or is it back to the sewing machine to make a fur lined moccasin, inuit-style?

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55 · March 11, 2010 at 04:42 AM

I wear Vivo Barefoot brand shoes every day, and I love them. (no affiliation to the company, I assure you.) I have two pairs, one casual for weekends and one dressier for work. I will not wear traditional healed or padded shoes any more. I have mild scoliosis and used to see a chiropractor regularly. Since I began wearing the Vivo Barefoot shoes, I have no longer needed to seek any back related medical services. I feel myself walking straighter and more comfortably. They have a way of retraining you to walk the way nature intended. They're not that expensive and I have been wearing mine for almost a year and they're still in good shape. They're a great option if you want the barefoot experience on a daily basis. I feel bad when I see people uncomfortably clomping around in overly padded shoes and throwing off the natural gait created by millions of years of evolution!

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30 · May 16, 2012 at 07:29 PM

I went "barefoot" a few months ago. You will find many of the common injuries you may have suffered in the past will go away, but you may emerge with different injuries to different places. For example, my knees no longer hurt when I run further than 5 miles, but in the initial few weeks running barefoot, my calf muscles were in agony, as barefoot running puts a lot of strain on your calves and ankles. Once you get over this and build a bit of strength in these places it is a good transition, and you will begin to understand what it is all about. Try starting out completely barefoot (on grass) to develop a natural style, and then from there on you can progress to a "barefoot" shoe like VFF's or Vivo's.

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463 · March 11, 2010 at 01:24 AM

I run barefoot and in VFFs (I try to do every other run barefoot) and I hike exclusively in VFFs, both regular KSOs and Sprints. I would start with VFF Sprints because they are much, much easier to fit (because of the double straps). They are great for running or hiking on any surface with two and a half caveats:

  1. Hiking in them is a little masochistic. You will feel rocks more than you are used to. Give yourself some time to adjust and remember that VFFs will slow you down compared to what you are used to.

1a. Hikes that are composed entirely of loose toaster-sized rocks will probably never be fun.

  1. While VFFs are indeed similar to barefoot for running, they are not identical, and they can still mask bad form. I know this from experience. I would strongly encourage you, if you are going to run, to work in enough actual barefoot running that your form does not degrade.

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4059 · March 10, 2010 at 11:05 PM

I picked up a pair of VFF KSO Treks a few weeks ago, and have been trying them out in my environment (rural Ontario; fields, pastures, dirt roads, stone fencelines, lots of snow and meltwater). Back issues have prevented me from running in them enough to evaluate them, so I've just been walking a few kilometers a day in them.

My conclusions so far (in no particular order)?

1) They're neither warm nor waterproof, but I knew that :). 2) I like the sole thickness; I can still feel pebbles, but they aren't uncomfortable to step on. 3) No adjustment pains so far. 4) I'd certainly wear them on a day hike; I prefer something with ankle support for backpacking. 5) You can get used to putting them on pretty quickly; they stay on well under use, and mold very well to my feet. The footprints I leave in the snow are hilarious :). 6) Traction is excellent. 7) I do tend to modify my stride with them; in boots, I tend to step heel-first; in the VFFs, I find myself walking more on the full foot or mid-and-fore foot. 8) I like them. I'm certainly sold on the concept for walking, and can't wait until I can try running in them.

Oh, and as for winter barefooting options, there's the Terra Plana Kariba: http://www.terraplana.com/kariba-p-1037.html?colour=245

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288 · March 11, 2010 at 03:42 PM

I wear Vibram KSOs in NYC and even during the winter they were fine -- you just need to be slightly more aware of where you are walking...I'd been exercising in flat sole shoes for a while when I made the transition so I guess the transition has been less extreme for me...that said, my calves still aren't fully adjusted to the increased work during runs, but I find they make sprinting much more fluid

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20 · March 11, 2010 at 03:31 PM

I wear Vibram FiveFingers on hikes and runs and love them!

To answer your questions..., you can definitely tackle a mountain path in them... you can feel the rocks and stones beneath your feet a little but it just requires being a little more aware of the ground around you so you can avoid any major rocks.

When i first started to wear mine i did have an adjustment period of a few weeks. The best advise i can give you is to just take your time with them when you start off, if you don't have experience of running and walking barefoot on more solid surfaces then it might feel strange and uncomfortable at first. But persevere with it and it will be worth it in the end!

Defo don't wear Crocs! Having a clumpy clog on your feet won't let you experience the full joys of being barefoot! Once you are completely used to your FiveFingers they allow you to move your feet and toes pretty much as you would when barefoot. They are also secure on your feet and will offer you more protection than a moccassin.

In the colder months i wear my FiveFingers with a pair of Injinji toe socks underneath! They keep my feet snug!

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2903 · May 16, 2012 at 09:12 PM

This might sound simple and stupid, but I usually just have some very thin flip flops and a purse large enough to hold them for when I decide I want to be barefoot. I realize this doesn't really work if you're...not a girl.

<3, the girl who goes into 7-11 barefoot.

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77322 · March 11, 2010 at 03:28 AM

Not really a good answer, but a memory. When I was a kid I was able to run barefoot down a gravel city alley in Vancouver with no problem. The more you run barefoot, the tougher you get.

I am much more of a tenderfoot now, and walk carefully on the cement and sand around my casa!

I won't try Vibrams, but I will walk barefoot at home as much as I can. I am not a runner even though as a kid I was.

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3112 · March 11, 2010 at 12:05 AM

My 2nd toe is (slightly) longer than my big toe, and I've had no problems with my Vibrams. Depending on the model, you might want to avoid wet/muddy ground, unless you don't mind some mud and water getting into the shoe. I had no adjustment problems, but a friend of mine had pretty sore calves after his first foray out with his pair.

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11363 · March 10, 2010 at 11:36 PM

Read the fitting instructions carefully if you order via internet. There are lots of disclaimers. VFF's are not recommended if one foot is larger than the other, if your 2nd toe is longer than your big toe, if you have flat or narrow feet, or if you're an over-pronator--whew! How many people does that leave who CAN wear VFF's?

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553 · March 12, 2010 at 05:47 PM

I love my Vibrams; I wear the Sprint model all the time, both for workouts and socially. I have run a 5K in them without problems, but yeah, I had to stay off the concrete. It was okay anyways though, because running on grass is actually kind of fun and felt really nice on the feet (soft, springy, and cool). I've gone to Yosemite and hiked around in them over rock, stream, twig, and soil, and they held up perfectly.

There is an adjustment period of a week or so, but it is not painful, just a little sore, but the good kind of sore, where just rubbing them at the end of the day feels great. I would definitely not let it deter you, this period of soreness and adjustment, because that's just your feet working out the many small muscles in your feet that have been inactive for a long time. But then those muscles get stronger and the soreness lessens gradually until you realize you don't notice it anymore.

Whether they're worth it is a good question. Presumably, the hand-made moccasins aren't going to have individually articulating toes, so moccasins won't let you flex those muscles. But if the sole of the moccasin's is flexible enough, you would see some benefit in your arches and your gait. I'm not sure what the benefit of Crocs is. They supposedly mold to your feet, but to me, the material still seems stiff enough that it keeps your foot from molding itself to the ground. In other words, Crocs don't seem to let your foot flex freely the way barefoot or Vibrams would. Not that there's anything wrong with that, Crocs are a good shoe, but I don't think you'll accomplish the same objective as Vibrams (apples and oranges, seems like).

In the colder months (I live in Dallas), I don't wear my Vibrams except around the house. I probably could have if I wore my legwarmers with them, but my feet get really cold. Other people might not have this problem.

Hope this helps!

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486 · March 11, 2010 at 05:08 PM

It seems like most people here have the KSO's. I'm purchasing a pair of VFF's in a few days and I'm still not sure which model to get. I'll be using them for lifting and running, so is there a particular model I should get?

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