I purchased a pair of Vibram FiveFingers KSOs towards the beginning of 2012, but I wanted to take them for a full ride in a number of situations before I wrote my review...so here goes.
After competing in my very first Warrior Dash last year, I decided to finally pick up a pair of Vibrams. I have debated and researched the topic of barefoot running for a while now, but it was after competing in Warrior Dash, and my scheduled runnings of both Warrior Dash and Tough Mudder this year, that I decided to finally give barefoot running a shot.
I remember my running shoes getting absolutely caked in mud during some of the obstacles last year, causing my feet to feel like cinder blocks throughout. I felt a 'minimalist' approach may be the way to go!
Wearing my Vibrams over the past number of months, I have definitely turned a few heads from curious onlookers. One of the questions that I continue to hear time and time again is, "Do those shoes have a lot of padding in them?"
Simple answer, no. But that is the point.
Whether you believe in the barefoot running 'craze' or not, one thing is for certain. Human beings have been running in their bare feet (or thin soled shoes) for many, many, many years. Some may even argue that the human foot and surrounding anatomy is one of, if not the greatest architectural wonders of the human body.
The idea behind barefoot running is that it your body automatically corrects for bad habits that form from running in cushiony shoes. Many folks who run in traditional running shoes have a slew of injuries related to their running form, also known as their 'gait'. The theory, at least, is that many of these injuries are directly related to the shoes we are wearing that, ironically enough, are supposed to protect us from injury!
I am not trying to sell you on the idea of barefoot running, I have made my decision for myself, and you should too. I am not a biomechanics specialist, just someone who has taken an interest in this very topic so I think if you have an interest in this topic, then you should look into the subject some more yourself.
I will recommend a few resources, however. Firstly, there was a tremendous documentary on how running has been such a large part of human history on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation titled The Perfect Runner. I am sorry, but I think only those readers that reside in Canada can watch the program. Also, Born to Run is a great story of ultrarunners, which also touches on barefoot running.
Either way, this is a review on the Vibram FiveFingers, so let's get back to the topic at hand.
It is entirely possible that folks who decide to purchase minimalist shoes may never strap them on to go for a run. I have used my Vibrams for a number of things now, including going for hikes, going for walks, running, yoga, lower body resistance training, upper body resistance training, athletic training, etc.
The reason why I chose the KSO model was because of the versatility. I knew that on top of running, I would be using my Vibrams for a number of other things, like those listed above, so I felt that the KSOs would suit my needs best.
I personally found that one of the best aspects to buying Vibrams was the ability to wash them. I have now worn mine nearly every day since purchasing them for one reason or another, and they get dirty. So, rather than them staying dirty, I literally just throw them in the washing machine, let them air dry, and they are good as new in a few hours!
Another reason why I love my Vibrams so much is their versatility. I mentioned this above, but I literally use mine for nearly everything I do. Running, yoga, resistance training, walking on the beach, etc. Since I wear them for so many things, my feet have become stronger and stronger, so I have no fears wearing them while walking on all types of terrain.
I personally get pretty sweaty hands and feet when doing stretching/recovery workouts as well as yoga, so it is nice to have the Vibrams on to maintain good contact with the floor, maximizing the postures or stretches that I am in.
Lastly, and one pro that some may dispute, is that my feet have arguably become stronger from wearing this type of shoe. Rather than cramming my feet into an over-supported shoe, I walk, run, and play the way nature intended my feet to be, and I can do so with my Vibrams on with little fear that things like rocks or broken glass will injure my feet.
These have zero arch or foot support. There I said it. I know that is unusual for many people, and I have tried to address this issue in the paragraphs above, but I am sure some people will still scoff at the idea that they need foot support in their shoes in order to be comfortable. That is fine, so maybe these shoes are not for you.
Some folks may find these shoes, *ahem*, how should I say..."ugly". I personally find them to be very 'cool' looking and have absolutely zero fears wearing them in public, but I can see how some folks are turned off by them. That is fine, you may never wear these suckers in public, just use them in your home or when exercising, and nobody has to look at your gross feet.
There is definitely an adjustment period to wearing Vibrams. The adjustment period is shorter, the younger you are, as your feet will still be 'supple' and have many of its elastic properties you are born with. The beautiful part of the human foot, and surrounding structure, is the natural 'springiness' and shock absorbing properties involved. Most people, however, become too reliant on padded shoes and arch support, weakening their feet, and therefore making them shy away from minimalist shoes. I know, it is an ironic vicious cycle.
I really, really enjoy my Vibrams. As I said, I use them for nearly everything I do, especially when it comes to physical activity. I wear them until they stink and are covered in dirt, then I throw them in the washing machine and they come out looking (and smelling) like new.
I am very impressed with the overall quality of these shoes. I have worn them numerous times during various types of workouts. They have been used in my home gym, working on endurance, athleticism, and agility. They have been used on the roads and sidewalks around my home town. They have even been trudged through gravel, sand, mud, and water, yet they still look and feel brand new (after a wash of course!).
It took some time for me to build up some foot strength in order to run longer distances, but I have done well, and listened to my body and now have run as long as 16km 'barefoot'.
I guess the only unfortunate part about now owning my Vibrams and becoming accustomed to them is that I won't be able to use them as much once the snow flies!
Overall, I give the Vibram FiveFinger KSOs a 9/10!
Quote of the day:
“If you want to make your dreams come true, the first thing you have to do is wake up.”