I first encountered the idea of barefoot running in a TED talk by Christopher McDougall, which can be found here, on YouTube. He even wrote a book on the subject called “Born to Run.” That was not what convinced me, however, to purchase my first pair of Vibrams a few months later. It was not until then that I read Tim Ferris’ newly published book, “The Four Hour Body,” here on Amazon. For a little context, I have always been a huge Tim Ferris fan. His first book “The 4-Hour Workweek,” was very insightful and had a lot of creative business advice that was not only original but inspiring. The idea that any one of us could rise up and become… well, whatever we wanted, was a hit with most of us in the business community. Not only has this book sold over a million copies, nearly everyone I knew at the time I was in college had read it. So, when he released his next book, I was among the first to purchase it. I read it, and to be honest, a lot of the advice, for me, was difficult to follow. However, I thought, I can at least buy these shoes. It was one of the only things I did from the book that I still do. I tried the diet, and it wasn’t my cup of tea, but at least I bought the shoes. I was wearing them casually for the first little while, and slowly, over time, I found that they were more comfortable than my traditional sneakers. In sneakers, my toes felt squished in their little toe boxes, but with Vibrams I could wiggle my toes.
I have been wearing Vibrams for 3 years or so, almost every day. I’ve never had issues with my feet or legs before, nor do I now. However, the recent controversy has caused me to consider my reasons for wearing Vibrams. Why do I wear these silly-looking shoes? There are plenty of other brands that manufacture “barefoot” style shoes that have a minimal sole, with a full toe box and appear to be “normal” on the outside. Wearing these, only I would know that my feet are reaping the purported benefits of ‘minimalist running.’ Zappos.com has an entire section dedicated to minimalist running shoes. I could wear a less ostentatious version of my favorite shoe. I guess my first excuse would be that these silly little things are silly, like me. Then I remember how pragmatic and serious I am and I have to crumple that idea up and trash it. I think the reason I love the look of Vibrams is that they certainly are unique (which, I consider myself to be) and I do enjoy that the toes fit like a foot glove. I just like the way it feels. A secondary reason I like the look of these shoes is that they are a conversation starter. If I see someone else who has them, it’s like we’re on the same team and we can give each other one of those “knowing” glances. Then, there are the people who stop me and ask questions about them. I enjoy sharing my opinions on the things that I love. I even started this blog to talk about things I love.
The reasons why I wear Vibrams extend beyond the fact that they were recommended by Tim Ferris, who I respect, and that they’re a wacky-looking conversation starter. I also wear them because I find them comfortable. That’s the number one question I get, by the way. People often approach me, squish up their faces a little, point at my shoes and ask “Are those comfortable?” I cheerfully let them know that they are and answer any other questions they might have as I wait in line at Starbucks.
I like my shoes, and I don’t feel that they have harmed my health in any way. I will also say that I don’t believe that they’ve helped my health in any way, either. I am not overly disappointed by that, although that was the original reason why I purchased the shoes (Tim, having recommended them because of their purported health benefits), I am just glad to have found shoes that I find comfortable and I will continue to enjoy them.
I will leave you with two articles that I found especially useful in my decision about continuing to wear Vibram or any minimalist shoes. The first one is from the Huffington Post called “Why We Fell For ‘Barefoot’ Shoes“. This article, including rightfully comparing the Sketchers “Shape Up” debacle to the current Vibram Barefoot Running one, talks about personal responsibility- specifically knowing how run in Vibrams in order to avoid injury. The second article was written by physician Matt McCarthy and is called “The Scientific Case Against Vibram’s FiveFinger Running Shoe.” This one discusses specific studies on barefoot running. Some of the studies support the claims made by Vibram and other studies negate them. However, the length and number of participants in all of these studies are somewhat limiting factors, regardless of outcome.
Thanks for reading! I hope this was helpful! Have you worn or tried Vibrams? Love ’em or hate ’em? Let me know in the comments below!