Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
17 Oct

Vibram FiveFingers

If you are a regular reader of Mark’s Daily Apple you are probably well aware of those funny looking Vibram FiveFingers by now. They’ve been mentioned in our barefoot running post, featured in a Top 10 Ultimate Fitness Gadgets post and showcased in Mark’s sprinting video. What can we say? We’re huge fans! The only thing FiveFingers hasn’t got is its own post. It is high time this performance footwear we love oh so much got the attention it well deserves, so here goes nothing.

How can these foot protecting oddities be described? I suppose if Toe Socks met Combat Boots, fell in love and had a shoe baby you would have Vibram FiveFingers.

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Or maybe if Bunny Slippers wooed Climbing Shoes with her undying charm, and also somehow managed to birth unconventional hybrid foot-protection offspring you would end up with Vibram FiveFingers.

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Flip flops and waters sock?

Ballet slippers and cross trainers?

You get the picture. They are the best of both worlds. They provide the physiological benefits of going barefoot with the advantage of having some level of armor against the elements. You don’t have to worry about stubbing your toe, or cutting your feet on glass or other sharp objects you are bound to come across in your travels. And you also don’t have to fret over the damage years of sneaker wearing would invariably do to your feet.

They take some getting use to, and Vibram warns you as much. Most people’s feet have been wrapped in leather, supported by padding, constrained by laces, and pampered since the day they were born. Since when was the double-stitched, steel-toed, double-buckled, laser, orthotic boot a prerequisite to human locomotion? (I just threw in the laser for fun. Though, if you know of a shoe with lasers please comment below. I am very interested.) Not long it turns out. Our feet developed without all this stuff, and they are better off without all this stuff save for minimal and basic defense.

You are bound to get some looks and see some heads turn if you walk around town in these. This probably isn’t of much interest to all of our trend-setting and trailblazing Mark’s Daily Apple readers. Besides, I am sure they are looks of envy rather than utter confusion or concern anyway.

Seriously, though. FiveFingers are light and malleable, yet durable. It’s as if Dr. Scholl went crazy and let his foot gels creep up around the heel and toes like a mutant foot-protecting demon. That’s it. FiveFingers are like a mutant demon that protects your feet. Yet also like your grandma, soft and protective.

Sorry. Back to serious. It should be clear at this point that Vibram FiveFingers are multifaceted, and a perfect gadget to help live the Primal lifestyle. If there is any criticism I can offer it is that they are a bit difficult to get the right size via post. They are adjustable and Vibram does offer pretty detailed guidelines on picking the right size, but best case scenario would entail you trying them on in-shop before purchasing. Also, if you have webbed feet these aren’t for you.

Do you have FiveFingers? How do you like ‘em? Hit us up with a comment!

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You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I hate how expensive they are in the UK! I’d want to get KSOs or at least Sprints, but they’re over £100 ($140 or so?).

    Chris wrote on March 8th, 2011
    • Chris try doing a search for a coupon. I managed to get my sprints for £75 online with a discount coupon

      lorez wrote on March 8th, 2011
    • Heck yeah! They are crazy expensive over there!! I wanted the speeds, which WERE only sold in UK, but I wasn’t payin that crazy price! Can you payy the US price if you get some from a US website? I’m not sure how all of that works on your end… But they’re around 100 USD on rockcreek.com, travelcountry.com, or citysports.com…. Maybe email them and ask, or go through checkout and see what it says when you put in your country, that is of course if it gives you the option of choosing a country!! Good luck!!

      Matt wrote on June 13th, 2011
  2. I recently tried the VFF originals, KSOs and a sportier version I believe the Komodo. I found them restrictive on my big (size 12) feet. While length was OK, I’m afraid I might suffer from fat toes… Enter Fila Skeletoes. They fit like a dream and while not quite as flexible as the KSO, they are as flexible if not more than the Sportier versions. They also have a EZ slide, combining your pinkie and your this little pig had none toe. Overall I’m very pleased. I’m hoping to see more big shoe names enter the market as competition can only improve things for the consumer.

    Bill wrote on April 17th, 2011
  3. Do you ever know about the funny vibrams five fingers and what do the vibram five fingers looks like?Do you realize the making principle and function of vibram five finger shoes? Now I am very happy to talk about vibram five fingers shoes with all of you because I just know somewhat about five fingers vibram.The rubber sole of vibram fivefinger shoes are quite soft.You may feel strange when you wear vibram five fingers shoes at the first time.But you will feel very comfortable after you wear vibram fivefingers several time.Then you are supposed to know that vibram five fingers can protect our feet to a great degree.

    vibram five finger sales wrote on April 18th, 2011
    • DO NOT GO TO THIS POSTS WEBSITE!! THESE ARE FAKES!!!! As if it’s not obvious… You need to find someone who speaks better English there buddy!!! Pathetic…

      Matt wrote on June 13th, 2011
  4. I just got them. Having an issue with small toe on each foot getting into the slot.

    Ted h in ct wrote on April 23rd, 2011
  5. I have a pair of VFF Treks that I have only worn a couple of times. I tried them on in the store and they felt great. They still feel great when I put them on. However, after wearing them very long the balls of my feet start burning. Does anybody know what would cause that?

    Beth wrote on May 22nd, 2011
  6. @Beth – I have the same problem with lots of my shoes. I think its the skin rubbing on the bottom of the inside of the shoe? Maybe your vibrams are too big? I have had definite issues with sizing, and ended up with ones that were too big and giving me blisters. I have since sold those and bought several new pairs in the correct size, but sometimes I’m a 40 and sometimes I’m a 41 – depending on which style of shoe it is. I sometimes get burning after a lot of walking in my Jaya’s, but never in any of the others. I think the Jaya is more flexible so my foot may move around in them more.

    Tiffany wrote on June 8th, 2011
  7. I bought a pair a year ago (in your presence actully as you visited us at our health fair in Miami). I haven’t put on a pair of sneakers since.

    Tony Pearsall wrote on June 8th, 2011
  8. I love my vibrams. I first started wearing them 2 years ago before they were known around my area. I still get strange looks and asked plenty of questions about them especially from girls. (chick magnet!!) I run, workout, fish, play sports, chill, and do pretty much everything in them.

    Josh wrote on June 9th, 2011
  9. Also don’t know if anybody has commented about fixing the stench that inevitably develops but I find that denture tabs dropped in a bucket of water work wonders. Soak your vibrams for a few minutes then let them dry.

    Josh wrote on June 9th, 2011
    • Go to birthdayshoes.com , they have a forum I believe, kind of funny to have a forum for dealing with smelly shoes!! But it’s necessary! Actually it may be more of just a page with suggestions from people, and things they have tried… But it’s a great site too and you should subscribe to emails from them.. They send info on new vibrams and other news! Very helpful site for sure..

      Matt wrote on June 13th, 2011
  10. I love mine. Like Vibram, the retailer, and this article warned me, they take a few days to get used to but I’ve been wearing them everywhere for 3 months straight. Couple of caveats for those thinking of them – first, you MUST keep your feet clean. And wash the shoes regularly. Second, when someone says “they take some getting used to” they mean at least in part that your feet will hurt for awhile as they get into shape. Your poor dogs have been useless lazy stumps at the bottom of your legs for almost your whole life and now you’re going to ask them to stand up and do their job. They won’t like it at first.

    My only and I mean ONLY serious complaint is that I wish they were less … conspicuous. I’ve talked about my shoes A LOT in the last 3 months. At first it was a novelty, over time it’s gotten irritating.

    I walk about 3km a day with my dog, ride my bike 30km to work and back, and play volleyball on grass 5 hours a week and these shoes are awesome for all activities. Love them love them love them.

    it used to be that when I was sitting, my legs would twitch. Sometimes worse than others but always. The main physical benefit I’ve had other than healthier feet is that this twitch has entirely stopped. I put it down to healthier nerves.

    Badhat wrote on June 9th, 2011
    • I work retail and people never leave me alone about them because I wear my, treksports, bikilas, and Komodo sports, to work… Depending on my mood, sometimes it’s irritating! But the thing I hate the worst is when they say “what are those?” I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO SAY!! I’m sitting there thinking like Uhhh SHOES!!??!! they’re on my feet?! What do you think??!! If they say “I like your shoes” I’m ok, but its the whole “what are those” thing that drives me nuts…

      Matt wrote on June 13th, 2011
  11. I tried them on in-store and was disappointed. I may be one of the rare beans who can’t wear Vibrams. Despite walking barefoot for years, my feet are flat, wide, with toes spaced close together.

    Got the largest size the store had and no luck. My feet were cramping after 10 minutes of attempts.

    Shaun wrote on July 14th, 2011
    • YOu need to try the LS version of vibrams… They’re for wide feet… They have quick laces… May I suggest the Komodo sport LS… If u can buy them… I’m not sure if they’re out yet… But even still they sell the LS version in other vibrams as well… Not sure how the rest of the shoe will fit but that should take care of the width problem at least!! I hate to see anyone who wants to wear them, not be able to!! Cuz they’re awesome!! :)

      Matt wrote on July 14th, 2011
  12. just got a pair of vibram five fingers and as some people commented, wearing them made me want to move more because they felt good. however, they seem to make me use a ton more muscles in my feet. consequently, i get some muscle fatigue and pain the the muscles mostly on top of the foot and instep. what is a good way to space out the usage of the vibram fivefingers and what inserts are available for arch suppport

    chrhistine randolph wrote on July 27th, 2011
  13. I was interested in these for a long time, but I have very wide feet (EEEE) and … due to not having a store around that sells them … never gave them a shot. That is until I found out a roomate had a pair of Treksports. In an odd coincidence they were the correct length according to Vibram’s website (11.5in = 45), so I asked him, tried them on, and they fit great!!

    I just got my own pair of the new Komodosport LSs from online and they fit as well! Love them so far. The feeling is great, and hopefully they will help splay out my toes a bit (years of tight toe boxes have scrunched everything together and twisted my pinky toes).

    JakeH wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  14. All,

    I really enjoy all the content in this website, so first and foremost I’d like to thank Mark for it. The argument that we shouldn’t be eating things that our body hasn’t evolved to deal with resonates with me. However, I’m a bit puzzled about how this reasoning applies to Vibram Fivefingers.

    We live in a very modified environment, where streets are mostly asphalt. Our body, similarly to how it hasn’t evolved to digest certain foods, surely hasn’t evolved to deal with such an environment. In that case, wouldn’t it make sense to wear something that protects us from this harsh environment? In other words, when dealing with foods, we protect ourselves by not eating them, and opt for healthier choices. But when it comes to walking, by using the same argument, shouldn’t we encourage the act of adapting/protecting ourselves from the environment (e.g. shoes)?

    The whole argument for Vibram Fivefingers (or going barefoot) makes sense when we talk about hiking, or running in a forest or other natural surface, like we used to do in the past. But what about highly-modified, asphalt surfaces?

    Could anyone please clarify a bit? Or let me know if this issue has been discussed in the past.

    Thanks.

    Gustavo wrote on August 15th, 2011
  15. I finally purchased a pair before my trip to Maui. I have worn shoes my whole life and am a “tender foot.” I love the VFF’s and can’t wait to wear this pair out so I can buy another pair. I purchased the Bikila LS and they fit great. I prefer the laced versions as I have fairly narrow feet around my arch. The lacing provides a better fir than the velcro strap versions.

    Tim wrote on August 18th, 2011
  16. Been wearing mine for two weeks now. I love them. I bought them as I’ve had PF for a while and though it’s not much better, I have gradually built up to walking 5 mile in them. However my very fashion conscious daughter won’t let me wear them out with her! But I don’t care it means I get to not have to go shopping with her!!!! Other people are freaked out by them, quite common. I’m trying to get my husband to start going barefoot running as he gets injured these days… Near 60 years old, can I get him out in flatties and some baggy shorts instead of lycra and heavy duty trainers….. I’ll let you know.

    jane wrote on September 27th, 2011
  17. Okay, so the vibrams are great. What is another alternative that works for work when you need something a little more professional and dressy?

    I work as a corporate photographer, photographing conferences, tradeshows and the like and often times semi formal cocktail parties after the event. I’m 27, have torn two ligaments in my foot and have achilles tendonitis on both feet. I’m young and in shape 5’4 105 lbs and don’t understand why my feet are hurting so much.

    need a solution that helps me be able to stand on my feet for 14 hr days, carrying equipment, sqatting and lifting, etc without being in pure agony!

    I spent $350 on shoes last week, tried out each pair for a full day at another long event and my feet are still reeling in pain 5 days later! I tried a born leather shoe, sperry black leather boat shoe, and something by aerosoles.

    suggestions! please and thank you and you are all awesome!

    Amber wrote on October 26th, 2011
    • This site has several different styles of barefoot-type dress shoes. I got a pair of the Men’s “Dharma” shoes and have been loving them when I must wear “traditional” dress shoes. They have a very similar feel to the Vibrams but without the toe pockets.

      August Kryger wrote on October 26th, 2011
  18. I bought Vibram Five Fingers about nine months ago, and in the past five or six months have used them exclusively for my three or so weekly runs of 3 miles each. I have been having knee problems, and found the only way I could continue running was adjust my stride and not be a heal striking any longer, but run either flat footed or on the balls of my feet. Vibram’s help me to run on my toes and balls of my feet, to take the stress off my knees. THAT SAID — in the past couple days I’ve developed severe pain at the base of my right big toe. I’m hobbling around all day today just walking into work. It’s a sharp pain, as I bend my foot when I take a step. Anybody else have this issue? And if so, how to combat?

    Charles Boisseau wrote on October 31st, 2011
  19. So, my Sprints came in the mail yesterday. I know I have the right size… but I am feeling some pain in between a few of my toes. I’ve been wearing the shoes a few hours at a time and then taking them off. Will my feet adapt to the toe separation? Do I just need to keep wearing them?

    Genevieve wrote on November 1st, 2011
  20. I went and bought a pair of VFF the other day. I went running in them yesterday and it felt great!
    Now that I have been Primal for a few weeks I have gotten stronger and the running was really enjoyable. Love them!

    Kat wrote on November 13th, 2011
  21. I’ve had vff’s for a few months now, and I wish I had the praise everyone else does. I only use them for running, and while I appreciate the merit behind promises of improved form, my pf shows no sign of healing. I will continue wearing them when I run with hopes that they will one day be comfortable, but they don’t feel very nice after only a few miles. They most I’ve run at one time in them was 8 miles, and the last two miles were uncomfortable. I don’t have perfect feet with nicely formed, straight, correct length, toes for a shoe that mimics a perfect foot. I can see where the VFF would be a good match for people who have feet that look like the shoe, but if your feet are imperfect, as are mine, you may want to consider a minimal shoe with a nice spacious toe-box instead.

    dirtrunner wrote on November 30th, 2011
  22. Vibram is a weak company that can’t seem to figure out how to manage an inventory that includes products for the smaller sizes (38M, 39M…) Instead, we’re left with 3 models to choose from, and no choice of color. That said, I do like my KSO’s, it’s just that they’re getting worn, and even a year and a half after I bought them, the product choice is exactly the same as it was then, even though they’ve introduced 4 or 5 new styles. Weak Vibram… (and the female versions do not fit)

    Kenny wrote on February 6th, 2012
  23. I have ahd these shoes for just under a year now. I’ll be honest and say that I wear them on and off(more off then on), I really love the concept of being able to walk virtually barefoot, but with protection. I forst heard about them when reading born to run (which I recommend)
    As it turns out my pinky toes still KILL me when wearing them to this day. I’m not sure if they’re too tight OR working. My pinky are pretty f’d up from all the shoes I’ve tried to squeeze my feet into all these years lol.

    Melissa wrote on February 9th, 2012
  24. Well I reluctantly just sent back my 3rd pair o VFF’s. I measured my foot according to their website, and my first pair of kso’s were too small, so I went up a size. Perfect fit other than my pinkie toe, which happens to be bigger than the toe next to it. I could wear them a while, then my baby toe would kill me! So I sent them back for the next larger size, and they are too big in all the other toes…I found the second pair amazingly comfortable except the little toe issue. And it wasn’t like an annoyance pain, it was a straight pressure pain. Would they finally stretch that last little bit? Or am I one of the un lucky ones :-( I absolutely am in love with the kso’s and would love to have a few different pairs for different activities.

    Aaron wrote on March 9th, 2012
  25. so, I’ve read many of the comments but not all I’ve read a bit from beginning middle and most of the current ones. I’ve been wearing VFF for months now and have several pairs. I also have several pairs of “minimalist” footwear like my Stem/LEMings for work…my suggestion to get many answers for the questions I’ve seen about is check out a website called birthdayshoes.com it’s a all in one place that answers many questions and is incredibly informative and full of helpful people who have been “sans shoes” for quite awhile.
    my two cents

    Cubicle51 wrote on March 19th, 2012
  26. I have been wearing VFF’s for several years now, and the only issue I have had was when I stopped running in them consistently. I ran a 15k race in them after not really using them for 6 months, and boy did my feet complain! I had a very minor case of plantar faciitis in my right foot, but it went away after 3 weeks or so.

    weebl411 wrote on April 11th, 2012
  27. What are the model of FiveFingers in the first picture? They look like a good trail boot sort of thing.

    Michael wrote on April 23rd, 2012
  28. Based on the info here on MDA I bought my first pair of FiveFingers a couple of weeks and after seeing the information online about counterfeit products etc, thought I would buy direct from their website. Unfortunately being in England, you need to go through the Italian website. :(

    Well I received them yesterday after chasing them on several occasions as to the whereabouts of them. Sadly they don’t fit and now I need to try and get them exchanged… which is an grumpy experience in itself.

    Unfortunately I don’t think I will be a repeat customer of Vibrams unless they decide to actually have a retailer close to where I live. The service from the Italian office is very poor and I just don’t want to go through it again. Which is a shame as I believe that the benefits of these shoes are there. I suspect that it will be at least another two weeks before I get my replacement shoes, if I get them. The element of doubt they have given me when I requested to return the ones I have means I am not confident that they will honour the return.

    At least I have learned a lesson to some degree.

    Travis Koger wrote on May 9th, 2012
  29. I’ve bought my first Vibrams two days ago, love them! Although I’m hesitant to wear them for work though … maybe first start with wearing them in my free time and then buy a KSO Trek Soft later on to be worn more widely :)

    Jerome wrote on May 20th, 2012
  30. Would love these, but they simply don’t make them in my size. I would need something like a women’s 42 ultra narrow (my foot is 11AAA, and I have [genetically] flat feet). The whole lateral side of the shoe is empty, my foot simply won’t fill it out, let alone come anywhere near to reaching the pinky toe. Yes, I’ve been fitted professionally. Wish there was a better option for those with long narrow feet.

    Dizzy wrote on June 13th, 2012
  31. I feel like this is bigotry against us web-footed mammals! I demand we protest! who’s with me??! *silence ensues*

    Erik Boyd wrote on December 28th, 2012
  32. I have wanted these “shoes” since I first saw them years ago. However, they don’t make them in size 15-16 US Mens and neither do any of their competitors. I am stuck with shoes I can find and barefoot at home.

    Josh Nicholls wrote on January 20th, 2013
  33. I have two pairs of classics (one pair I wear at work and one at home), and one pair of KSOs that I bought last week for running in. I absolutely adore them. I have very wide feet, longer second toes, and my two smallest toes are rather bent under. I had a bunion removed from one foot about 15 years ago, and have always had enormous difficulty finding shoes that fit properly. Most of the time I end up with the ones that hurt the least, rather than the ones that fit the best.

    The first time I tried on VFFs, I decided not to buy them straight away because the colours they had in my size were not to my taste. I planned to find a nicer colour online. But, on the way home, my feet were practically screaming to have those wonderful shoes back. I went back the next morning and bought them regardless of the colour.

    Yesterday I went out for my first ever run wearing my new KSOs. It felt amazing. I am not an experienced runner, and usually feel like a baby elephant pounding down the street. I felt light, and free in the KSOs and felt like I could keep going forever. I did, however stick to my schedule and heeded the advice on the Vibram website about not over-doing it until your body adjusts to the shoes.

    I just love these shoes and I can’t say it enough. I actually feel sad when it’s time to take them off and go to bed. If my partner would tolerate me wearing them in bed I probably would :)

    Rachel S wrote on April 4th, 2013
  34. I got my Vibrams last summer, and I will never, ever go back to exercising in normal sneakers. Not a chance.If they were allowed at work or in the bars/nightclubs I frequent, I would literally wear them at all times. The one and only issue I have with them is that my pinky toes are unusually short in proportion to my other toes so they don’t even come close to reaching the end of their toe slot on the shoes. That, however, is very a minor, ineffectual issue completely and overwhelmingly outweighed by all the benefits Vibrams provide.

    Mark Pompeo wrote on April 17th, 2013
  35. I am in the market for a pair of VFFs. I tried two on yesterday. Both felt AMAZING! Now, how to decide between them? The one (komodosport) has a softer sole. The other (Spyridon) has more tread and some arch support with a hard sole on the arch for protection when off roading. I plan to use my VFFs for everyday use, from walking with my kids, going to the park, biking and hiking. The Spyridon is recommended on the Vibram website for multiuse, but will I get the full benefits of barefooting with this slightly more rigid sole?

    sarah wrote on July 30th, 2013

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