Mar 072013

Recently, one of our writers, Jason, forwarded me a story he found on Runner’s World regarding a study by Sarah Ridge et al. that was published in February 2013 in the medical journal, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.  The study is titled Foot Bone Marrow Edema after 10-week Transition to Minimalist Running Shoes.  Simply put, the study examines injury rates in a group of runners during a 10-week transition to Vibram FiveFingers.

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The Vibram Transition: Chapter 7

 Posted by on October 26, 2012  1 Response »
Oct 262012

Every time I find myself looking over this series, I wonder if we should rename it to something like “minimalist” transition, but instead, we keep this name because there are many notable things that differentiate FiveFingers from the rest of the minimalist shoe lines.  So, I wanted to bring some attention to the differences between 5-toed shoes and single toe pocket shoes.  In this post, I’ll explain the pros and cons of a shoe with individual toe pockets relative to a single toe pocket shoe design.

The Vibram FiveFingers brand prides itself on its unique design, quality materials, and its ability to encourage a natural stride.  It does this by providing a very thin sole and a 0mm heel to toe drop; but what is the deal with the toes?  Vibram argues that by providing individual toe pockets, your toes are able to work individually, the way they were originally intended to.  But, if that’s the case, why are there so many companies touting the single toe box design?  Most other minimalist shoe companies provide an extra wide toe box which also allows the toes to splay out their natural way.  The question is, who is right?

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The Vibram Transition: Chapter 6

 Posted by on June 21, 2012  2 Responses »
Jun 212012

The most frequently asked question I get when I wear my Vibram FiveFingers around town is: “Are those actually comfortable?” Of course, my answer is always some variation on “Yes, they’re very comfortable,” and is often followed up by a longer explanation of the benefits of minimalist footwear if the asker is interested to hear more. Obviously, I’m happy to have people ask me about my shoes, because it’s always great to get to spread some of the minimalist shoe gospel–there’s a reason we talk about minimalist shoes on this blog so often! However, I’ve decided that this FAQ is, without a doubt, the most concerning question that I am asked about my shoes and I see it as indicative of our society’s current (but slowly changing!) approach to footwear. Let me explain. Continue reading »

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The Vibram Transition: Chapter 5

 Posted by on March 9, 2012  2 Responses »
Mar 092012

It’s been a while since our last Vibram Transition post. For the time being, we’ve been focusing on testing other minimalist shoe options (lots of exciting reviews coming soon!), but I wanted to come back to this series and talk about one of the less emphasized parts of barefoot/minimalist running: injury. “Injury” often feels like a dirty word in the barefoot/minimalist community. In this post-Born to Run world, many people are touting barefoot/minimalist running as the solution to running injuries associated with heel-striking/traditional footwear, and it’s not hard to find testimonials about how switching “cured” people of their knee pain, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, etc. Of course, there are also plenty of people who would argue that so many people switching to barefoot/minimalist, and doing “too much, too soon”, is going to result in an “epidemic” of foot/ankle/leg injuries in the coming years! While there is scientific evidence indicating that runners with a midfoot/forefoot strike may be injured less often, and plenty of anecdotal evidence suggesting that switching to barefoot/minimalist might help runners overcome injuries and/or prevent new ones, it doesn’t mean that going barefoot/minimalist equals becoming injury-free. Continue reading »

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The Vibram Transition: Chapter 4

 Posted by on January 24, 2012  6 Responses »
Jan 242012

One of the most striking transformations that took place during our transition into and continued use of Vibram FiveFingers was that of our feet. Before I began running in FiveFingers, I don’t think I ever put much thought into just how different one person’s feet are from another’s or what the natural form of the foot should be. Transitioning into minimalist footwear, however, has really forced me to think about the structure of my feet, and it has become (sometimes painfully) clear that no two people’s feet are alike in form or function. Despite how obvious that statement may sound, it is apparently not part of the thought process of many modern shoe manufacturers, which I can attest to after years and years of cramming my toes into narrow toe-boxes and my feet into highly-cushioned shoes from manufacturers who don’t account for the natural shape, strength and movement of the foot. So, for this entry into our Vibram Transition series, I’m going to get to the “sole” of things (sorry, couldn’t help myself) and talk about the effects of traditional footwear and the many changes our feet have experienced since we went minimalist. Continue reading »

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The Vibram Transition: Chapter 3

 Posted by on January 8, 2012  No Responses »
Jan 082012
Haunted Hustle Medal

The 2011 10K Haunted Hustle medal.

Once the pains of calf-ocolypse had finally been soothed, we decided it was time to get back into the swing of things and sign up for our first 10k race.  This would be Meagan’s first race and my first race in over 10 years, but as intimidating as it was, the decision was one of the best we could have made because of the motivation it provided for us.  We chose to run in the Haunted Hustle, a late-October race in Middleton, WI where runners often dress up in Halloween costumes.  Many people are there just to have fun, which takes some of the pressure away and makes it the perfect race for beginners like us.  This race, however, is also a Boston Marathon qualifier, so it was equally great for us to be around a few of the more serious runners and watch them as they finished the race.  We signed up on August 18th, 2011. The run would take place just 2 1/2 months later on October 29th.  This provided us with ample time to begin upping our mileage and increasing the number of times we ran per week.  Before we signed up for the race, the longest run we had ever been on was a 5K, so over the next 2 months we had to work towards doubling our mileage.

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The Vibram Transition: Chapter 2

 Posted by on December 21, 2011  3 Responses »
Dec 212011

In this post, I present the second chapter in our ongoing series detailing our transition into running in Vibram FiveFingers. Here, I will address the more painful (and, sad to say, self-inflicted) parts of transitioning into minimalist running that Steve and I dealt with while we worked to re-train our feet (and really every other part of our lower body) to run in Vibram FiveFingers.

Heel striking: Bad. Forefoot strike: Good! Images courtesy of &

At this point, you’ve probably seen all of the advice and warnings posted online, including on Vibram’s website, about taking it slow while you transition into minimalist footwear. Most runners spend years (or even just a month, in our case) heel-striking in heavily-padded, more typical modern running shoes. Some even believe that this is a natural way to run and argue that one cannot run on pavement, or, in some cases, at all, without the aid of padded shoes. Recently, however, more and more evidence is being uncovered suggesting that heel-striking, along with the wearing of padded running shoes, actually results in the shortening, weakening, and stiffening of important muscles/tendons/bones in the foot and leg that would otherwise be used if you were to run with a more natural (re: mid-foot or forefoot) foot strike.

If you’ve ever tried running completely barefoot (even if you just take a short jog around your apartment), you’ll quickly notice that your body naturally avoids landing heel-first, and instead switches to a mid-foot or forefoot strike. Amazing, right? That begs the question: “Why should running for exercise be any different?”. Therein lies the basis for the minimalist running/footwear movement: shoes should provide some protection for your feet, but they should not compromise your natural stride and the natural movement of your feet and legs. Continue reading »

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