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Has anyone tried the Vibram FiveFinger shoes?

Dee*Jay

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I am back to working out again (after two knee surgeries in a row... ) and, even though my shoes are tied VERY loosely, I find that my instep is sore and my toes are going numb on the elliptical after a few minutes. I wonder if these crazy finger shoes would help? Has anyone tried them? What do you think?!?
 

Aoife

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I have. They are definitely an acquired taste, and fit can be very tricky. If you decide to give these a try, go somewhere where they really understand the importance of making sure you are in the correct style, and that the fit is perfect.

From what you describe, it sounds to me as though you may have some issues with tightness in your Achilles tendon or calf muscles that may be affecting circulation. Have you considered massage? I spent months trying to get a handle on a similar problem, and I ended up being fitted with inserts in my running/walking shoes, and getting regular massages which took care of that problem as well as some other activity related issues. Your P.T. might have some suggestions, too.
 

Dee*Jay

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Aoife -

Thank you so much for the response!

I do have custom orthodics, but you raise a very interesting point about potential tighness. I actually stopped stretching a few weeks ago becuase I realized that every time I stretched I hurt my knee, but I will try it again, just differently. I also have a roller stick at home that I will use on my calves. It would be marvelous the "fix" was a simple one!
 

amc80

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My feet go numb on the elliptical as well...but not when I run. Weird.
 

kelpie

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I had had pain in my instep ever since I could remember walking. I started running in just my socks on a treadmill and that built up the muscles that solved my arch pain ( warning running correctly on the balls of your feet and not heels will start out feeling like hell afterwards). However the soles of my feet would be hot and raw. I wanted to run outside too so I got the five fingers which are good conceptually but the separate toes are a gimmick and cut off my circulation. They also gave me blisters in the heel. I think my feet are slightly smaller than their smallest size....don't shop online without trying them because the fit is not your normal size. I gave those expensive shoes to the thiftstore. Two "barefoot" shoes I've replaced them with and been very pleased with are the feelmax osma and terraplana ($$$$ but worth it). These offer the same benefits without the crazy toes and odd fit.

ETA- I went years with custom orthotics too and wile it solves the pain it does nothing to address why your foot can not hold itself properly using it's own muscles. Running on the balls on my feet in skimpy shoes eliminated my need for them, but like I said the first couple weeks running this way are hard on these low low calf muscles that never get used in most people because we wear such soft shoes.
 

Aoife

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Dee*Jay|1311350555|2974612 said:
Aoife -

Thank you so much for the response!

I do have custom orthodics, but you raise a very interesting point about potential tighness. I actually stopped stretching a few weeks ago becuase I realized that every time I stretched I hurt my knee, but I will try it again, just differently. I also have a roller stick at home that I will use on my calves. It would be marvelous the "fix" was a simple one!
The roller stick sounds like a great idea, but I'd be really cautious about stretching. I'm personally sceptical about the value of stretching, since there's plenty of research that indicates that at best it's neutral. Since you've recently had surgeries, and say stretching hurts your knees, I'd be extra careful. Good luck!
 

purselover

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I have the runnig one (the bikila) and I'm completely in love! They are definitely not for everyone though so be careful. I bought mine at the local running store after I tried them on their treadmill to test my stride in them (they have a super fancy treadmill with all these sensors), the guy helping me says he never recommends Vibrams because most people don't take well to them, but I happened to have the perfect stride for them. He also said most people experience soreness at first but I took really well to them and had no such experience- I was able to use them as my exclusive running shoe right from the start. I suggest you find a store that has them and try walking around in them to see what you think- also it took me FOREVER to get them on the first time but after that it was so much easier so don't worry if you struggle the first couple times!
 

mrssalvo

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A bunch of people have them at my gym and all swear by them. A bunch of the aquatics staff folks have them too and say they are more comfy than going barefoot. One guy who is a long distance runner says they are wonderful too. I'd say go for it but as suggested make sure you are getting the proper fit.

sidenote; how are you doing? :wavey:
 

JulieN

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I'd try them, I only get pain when I wear shoes, not when I'm walking in flip-flops or working out barefoot.
 

Dee*Jay

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Thank you all for the replies!

Interesting comments about the arch pains BTW. I have noticed that myself over the past few weeks. It usually occurs a few minutes into my elliptical workout, and it typically goes away after a while.

There is a great running gear store (Fleet Feet) near me, and I think I will stop by there this weekend and see if they have these shoes. I have found the staff at Fleet Feet to be VERY knowledgeable and helpful, so I hope they will have some insight!
 

Aoife

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Just a FYI, arch pain can also be caused by tight calves, Achilles, etc. You can end up with chronic plantar fasciitis, so it's great that you're being proactive now. Please report back on what the running experts have to say on the Vibrams, I'll keep my fingers crossed that you find a solution for the pain you're in.
 

Skippy123

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too weird; I was just talking to my BIL about these. He has them and has plantar fasciitis and it made it worse! I get plantar fascitis from time to time so I would be to scared to try these.

Hey D!!! :wavey:
 

amc80

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How cushiony are they? That would be my concern...they look like they don't have much padding. I have ridiculously high arches and am therefore prone to shin splints and stress fractues, so I need some cushion. I have custom orthodics as well...not sure if they would work with these.
 

kelpie

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amc80|1311372312|2974872 said:
How cushiony are they? That would be my concern...they look like they don't have much padding. I have ridiculously high arches and am therefore prone to shin splints and stress fractues, so I need some cushion. I have custom orthodics as well...not sure if they would work with these.
I have crazy high arches too. There's no cushion, the point is you learn to step properly so your foot is a spring. Again, the theory is great and I lOve my other "barefoot" shoes but the five toes thing is completely unnecessary complication. All you need is a shoe with a thin flat flexible sole to strengthen your foot. The shoe should have no height in the heel so you run on the balls of your feet. If your high arched feet are like mine then they are weak and orthonics are enabling them.
 

decodelighted

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They make me giggle on two counts .... when I read or hear them mentioned: sounds SO DIRTY. And -- they look so funny on people. But HECK. If they help, go for it.
 

charbie

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DH and I both own these.....and neither of us have used them yet. We got tehm for each other last Christmas bc my cousin raved about them and talked about how they help lower back pain...exactly DHs issue.
Well, a month later, I was knocked up, and DHs back was royally screwed up. So we put them in a box, and plan to both get back into runing/exercise now that his back is healing and my baby is about to pop out :)

I've only heard great things about them from those who use them.
 

vc10um

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I have them and love them, for short distances, as well a the elliptical trainer and other cross training machines. But I have the same problem as kelpie when I get over 2.5-3 miles...the separate toes cut off my circulation a bit because my toes swell. I actually have gotten several blisters from them on the bottoms of my big toes because the skin actually pinched itself together and rubbed. OW.

But the whole barefoot/chi running (which is the form you should be using when running "barefoot") phenomenon is something I 100% support. I just need to find a new minimalist shoe without the separate toes! (kelpie, do you have a favorite?)
 

kelpie

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vc10um|1311386223|2975000 said:
But the whole barefoot/chi running (which is the form you should be using when running "barefoot") phenomenon is something I 100% support. I just need to find a new minimalist shoe without the separate toes! (kelpie, do you have a favorite?)
I would say the cheaper feelmax and expensive terraplana provide similar performance however I believe the terraplana will last much longer. My running store said someone had them for 1000 miles and still going. Also they look much cooler than the dorky feelmax. For rocky trails the terraplana does outperform. The downside is the price is about $160. The feelmaxes are great shoes for $80.
 

jstarfireb

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iluvcarats

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My kids and DH all have them and love them. I tried a pair on and hated them. I didn't like the feeling of having my toes separated. It was like the equivalent of having food stuck between my teeth :knockout:
 

Dee*Jay

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OK, so I bit the bullet and got a pair! The guy that I work with at the running store was very positive on them, and he said if after a couple of weeks I don't love them I can even bring them back (which I would never do, but I do love this place for their great service!). I am going to try to ease into them. Right now my daily cardio is 20 mins elliptical, 20 mins bike, another 20 mins elliptical, so I am going to try doing the first 20 mins in the FiveFingers and see how I feel.

They do look pretty goofy, but I didn't mind the things between my toes (in the very short time I had them on, anyway).

Hello back Mrs. S and Skippy! :wavey:

bikila.jpg
 

Dee*Jay

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Amc, to answer your question about cushion, there really isn't any. I imagine if you ran outside on a rocky surface or went hiking in these you could feel much of the surface that you were on, but I only plan on using them at the gym so that shouldn't be a problem.

BTW, I forgot to say that I tried on several styles of minimalist shoes (i.e., where the toes weren't separated) and these were actually more comfortable to me.
 

Haven

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Dee*Jay,

I hope you have a safe, easy, and swift recovery from your surgeries!

DH and I both wear Vibrams. DH wears his all day long, every day, to work. (He's a muscle specialist, and he's on his feet all day treating clients.)

He just bought the hiking version that has some more protection on top of the foot and wore them to visit me in the mountains of NC two weeks ago and loved those, as well.

I wear mine on the weekends and I really love them.

Please be careful in them, though, because there will be an adjustment period, especially if you usually wear orthotics or very stiff shoes. I'd try to transition slowly, and wear them for increasingly longer periods over a long period of time.

P.S. I have the hot pink and orange ones, and I think they're hilarious!
 

partgypsy

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Someone at my work place has them and loves them. I was intrigued by them. I read about them on the internet and one the thing I read is a certain percentage of people end up getting foot fractures from running in them! Granted I don't know how often this happens or what distances these people ran, but it gave me pause. It might also have to do how they transitioned from stiffer to less support shoes.

My feet are odd. I have very high arches, but hate shoes with alot of support/structure. Basically the less structured the shoe is the more I like it. Maybe that's because of my arch many shoes rub me. Most of the shoes I have are inexpensive (think payless) shoes with little support. Supposedly they should be horrible for my feet. I feel like I should get better shoes because I walk alot but don't want to spend alot on an expensive shoe which may not work out.
When I exercise at home I exercise barefoot.
 

jstarfireb

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part gypsy|1311714308|2977307 said:
It might also have to do how they transitioned from stiffer to less support shoes.
That's what I've heard too. Not a reason to abandon the shoes or the method of running, but just be careful and transition slowly!
 

aviastar

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[/quote]The roller stick sounds like a great idea, but I'd be really cautious about stretching. I'm personally sceptical about the value of stretching, since there's plenty of research that indicates that at best it's neutral. Since you've recently had surgeries, and say stretching hurts your knees, I'd be extra careful. Good luck![/quote]

Can you link to some of that research? Just my personal experience, but I truly feel that I have prevented myself injury, of both the muscle and joint variety, in dance and stage combat through stretching. Like all movement and exercise it should be done properly, but not only do I love the way it feels to stretch, the increased flexability is a big part of performing choreography well and safely. I would be interested to read research that indicates otherwise, since stretching has been a major part of all the movement training I have had throughout my life.
 

Haven

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The roller stick sounds like a great idea, but I'd be really cautious about stretching. I'm personally sceptical about the value of stretching, since there's plenty of research that indicates that at best it's neutral. Since you've recently had surgeries, and say stretching hurts your knees, I'd be extra careful. Good luck![/quote]

Can you link to some of that research? Just my personal experience, but I truly feel that I have prevented myself injury, of both the muscle and joint variety, in dance and stage combat through stretching. Like all movement and exercise it should be done properly, but not only do I love the way it feels to stretch, the increased flexability is a big part of performing choreography well and safely. I would be interested to read research that indicates otherwise, since stretching has been a major part of all the movement training I have had throughout my life.[/quote]

(The quoting function isn't working properly. I quoted aviastar above, who quoted someone else, and here's my response. EEK!)
My husband is a muscle specialist and I know he has the same belief about stretching as the person you quoted, aviastar. (I'm sorry, I can't see that person's name in your post.) I don't know any links to online sources, he gets a lot of peer-reviewed journals on such things. I'll ask if he has anything available to link to, though. (I stopped stretching shortly after we met seven years ago and have never felt better, for whatever that's worth.)

However, I also know he'd say to listen to your body. If you feel that stretching makes you feel better, do it! It sounds like you are keyed in to what does and doesn't feel right for your body, and that is really important.
 
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