Many of our clients have no doubt seen the footwear of two of our trainers, Tom and Paul. For those who don’t know these are called Five Fingers and they’re made by Vibram.
While the look odd and out of place they actually aren’t new science. They’re bare feet (with rubber covering the bottom for protection – something our fore-bearers who often ran barefooted after game would no doubt have loved.
That’s said, and since they’re are probably a bazillion questions about them, and because Tom and Paul may eventually tire of explaining the concept behind them, I thought I’d say a few words.
Several studies (all referenced below – and there are many more than these) are inconclusive whether barefoot running over traditional (shouldn’t barefoot be traditional though?) shoe running and the flip side traditional shoe running over barefoot running are better or worse. However, what they do agree on is that either way your stride and foot placement change; for better or worse again is inconclusive.
The primary thing to consider if you’re are thinking about trying these out is to remember in the beginning a little goes a long way. It’s a lot like running or weight training or whatever. If it took you 20 years to put on 60 lbs chances are you’re not going to drop that 60 (unless you’re morbidly obese) in a year. I’m not saying it’s impossible I’m just saying that chances are you won’t do it, it’ll take longer than that but it’ll eventually come off. With running, most runner’s injuries can be chocked up to too much, too soon and too fast.
So if you decide to strap on a pair of these, do so with some forethought to how you’re going to gradually make the adjustment. Don’t wear them all day long the first time you pull them out. Don’t go for a ten mile run on the first weekend you wear them. Don’t walk on hot coals…well, that one you should only do completely barefoot anyway.
Also, talk to Paul and Tom (and even Katy’s boyfriend Daniel) and they can tell you about their experiences.
Mike Babbitt, M.F.A, M.A., CSCS, ACSM-HFI
USA Triathlon Level 1 Coach, Master Trainer
Mike is a Master Level trainer at Empower Personal Training. He has a unique approach to fitness that combines his scientific foundation of research and applied exercise physiology with his artistic experience as a professional stage actor. For more information about Empower Personal Training please call (919) 401-8024