vibrams 5 fingers

After reading about all the pros (and cautionary advice) about VFF, I am now almost convinced that this is a good direction to move my run training in... especially because I do it for the pleasure, and I like the idea of having a more biologically natural running style. However, one last thought sticks in my head, and I wonder if anyone else has already thought about it:

If VFF are so great, and give such anatomical and possibly speed benefits, then why don't professional athletes wear them? Especially as athletes already tend to run mid - fore-foot, which I'm led to believe is the key to running with minimalist running shoes... it was just a thought!


  • The pros would generally have near perfect running form so wouldn't need a shoe to help them with that. They also run in racing flats or spikes which are very minimal anyway. Maybe vibram don't pay anyone to endorse their product.
  • I'm also wondering why sweatshop don't stock them... coud just be because Sweatshop don't think they're popular enough to sell next to other brands I suppose, or maybe because they aren't trained to sell them?! Or are Sweatshop not convinced that they are a good running shoe - that is my concern. Or maybe I'm thinking about this too much!

  • If VFF are so great any has Vibram been pulled up for using fake or non-existent science to advertise them? They're being sued in Florida.
  • Maybe if they stocked them it would go against all of the gait analysis stuff they promote in store. Although they said have the New Balance Minimus ones in there the other day.
  • Cheaper to buy a pair of old school plimsoles for a fiver.
  • It's all very well being biologically natural - but since when did humans run for leisure on concrete ? Conventional running shoes make more sense to me.
  • i just find it quite strange that if i try running barefoot (in the house!) i put my forefoot first and i find it odd to try putting my heel first (and clear bad). Then the opposite happens when I put my nice cushioned trainers on and run.

    I have read articles from people who have run the great north run (complete tarmac route) in VFF with no subsequent pain. I did the GNR a couple of weeks ago and had bad ankles/feet for a couple of days afterwards... it seems my currents training isn't strengthening my feet and ankles enough, my thought are that these cushioned shoes are supporting a bad an unnatural running style (at least for me).

  • Ultra cougie wrote (see)
    It's all very well being biologically natural - but since when did humans run for leisure on concrete ? Conventional running shoes make more sense to me.

    You've never run on hard-packed earth after a hot spell that's as hard as concrete? Your body's perfectly capable of absorbing the impact of running on road.

    catherine Tetard-Jones wrote (see)

    i just find it quite strange that if i try running barefoot (in the house!) i put my forefoot first and i find it odd to try putting my heel first (and clear bad). Then the opposite happens when I put my nice cushioned trainers on and run.

    VFFs are fun, but you don't necessarily need toe-shoes to encourage you to run with better form. I would suggest that trail-running encourages you to use many of the same elements as barefoot running. Finding shoes with a lower heel-toe differential will help, too. If your budget allows you to experiment, it might be worth moving to a lesser heel before trying no heel at all.

    Really, the best thing you can do is simply to think about what you're doing with each step you take, since every step further ingrains a particular type of running form. If it means cutting down on speed/distance for a while, then so be it. It should be quite possible to run with good form in any neutral shoe (probably easier with one that doesn't have 4 inches of EVA foam stuck to the bottom, mind).


  • VFF are just one option of going down minimalist route. I changed from conventional trainers to low-drop ones, with good effect on ITBS ( but bad on calf tightness for a long time) but I still value a bit of cushioning. A lot of people say that if you want to go minimal run with no shoes at all, as this will help learning good form better. Then you can run in anything you like
  • i think atheltes wear what they're told to wear from their sponsor ie nike and addidas.

    I wear luna sandals which fit perfectly you might find vff a bit of a weird fit....

    as for tarmac... i have to agree with radcchio on that.

    high heeled cushioned shoes are so wrong... you dont see a dog or horse running in high heels do you! lol


  • VFF brilliant. They have those lovely individual pockets for your tooties. What more can you want in your cwistmas stocking. Hand over your 120 quid sucker for a pair of 2 pound fifty plimsols you could have bought at Marks and Sparks.
  • Btw totally disagree with ultra cougie. They aren't the best things since sliced bread
  • @avit - you don't see a dog or a horse running 10 miles on tarmac, and dogs and horses have different gaits, so your point is moot and, frankly, dumb.  Although humans have been running barefoot for millenia, they've done so on soft surfaces, unlike the tarmac and concrete we run on now.

  • my point was that why go change something that has worked for millenia....

    whatever i aint arguing with u about how hard dry ground is compared to tarmac-would we never have over frozen ground in the winter? thats pretty hard

  • I dont really care if anybody else runs in minimalist shoes, barefoot or big cushioned shoes.  I run in vivo's and love them, however still do most of my miles in trail shoes and some in cushioned road shoes.  I like the variation of running in different shoes, but it has to be said, im no hippy but it just feels right running in barefoot shoes (even if my calves do hurt the next day).

  • Run what you feel comfortable in, I have multiple pairs of hoka one one. Zero drop, but lots of cushioning.


  • People heel strike in cushioned shoes because the cushioning absorbs the jarring impact of hitting the ground heel first, they don't do it so much in minimalist shoes because they realise how painful/unnatural it feels.

    You don't need VFFs to change your gait but you might find they help purely because the absence of cushioning will make you more mindful of how you place your feet. I have some and like them because it's the closest thing to running barefoot that I'd consider in Central London. I haven't gone further than 8 miles in them, preferring to wear minimalist Saucony shoes for longer distances - that's more down to blisters/ friction from the road on the skin of my feet than pain in calves or other muscles.

    Personally, I'd rather work on strengthening and conditioning my muscles and fix any issues/imbalances in my hips/pelvis than put on a pair of shoes that are the trainer equivalent of riding a bike with stabiliers, but to each their own.

  • To answer the OP, two reasons spring to mind professional means possibly sponsored so, you'll go with the sponsors shoes. VFF's won't give you a speed advantage, so if you're already running fine in whatever you're allready running fine in, then there's no incentive to change.

    I do love my VFFs though!

  • Ian M wrote (see)

     VFF's won't give you a speed advantage

    Surely they weigh less than standard race shoes, so should give a speed advantage?

  • Stupid question alert! - How do I find out what the heel- toe drop on my current shoe type is, and is the implication earlier correct- that a lower drop will help ITBS?

  • tricialitt wrote (see)

    Stupid question alert! - How do I find out what the heel- toe drop on my current shoe type is, and is the implication earlier correct- that a lower drop will help ITBS?

    nobody can say for certain they will but i used to get a nagging itb and it went away since i started running in minimalist shoes. So it can in some people i suppose. 

  • I have a friend who weard VFF's and he swears by them for weight lifting!, He can't run to save his life so that didn't play a part in his shoe choice, but the low profile of the shoe really helps him with lifts like deadlifts, where you have to be in contact with the ground. 

    He has told me though, that if he had worn them before he bought them (online purchase) then he would probably have gone to Primark and got some plimsoles. 

    I say, buy them if they are suitable for what you want if you really want them. If not look around and try some others, why do you wan't VFF specifically? No harm in looking elsewhere

  • Thanks everyone for all the advice. i was originally just looking for trainers with toes. Been playing with some toe separators for the last couple of weeks (CorrectToes) to see whether it could help realign my toes and whether this would help stengthen my feet/ankles... my toes dislocate sometimes when I excercise on them or put pressure on them sometimes... the seperators seem to be working so far. The whole thing about running in minimalist shoes seems to make sense (akin to riding a bike without stabilisers), but I wouldn't want to run on my forefoot without letting my poor toes spread out, that has to be like clipping a birds wings! Will def check all the options and try instore before I buy. 

  • I've been wearing VFFs almost exclusively* for the last year.  I started by just wearing them to walk around in, wearing them to work and so on, then started running in them for short distances, gradually building up to being able to do 10K races in them about 9 months later.  Whether they've really changed my form or not, I don't know — I think I've always been a mid-foot striker, but I do know that my recurring ITB injury doesn't flare up when I'm wearing them.  

    Incidentally, if you're going to the US any time soon, buy them there — they're way cheaper and more readily available to try on!  Also bear in mind that sizing can vary between different styles.

    As for the comments about "you weren't designed to run on concrete" - as someone else mentioned earlier, sun-baked dry, compacted earth is pretty damn hard and there is no reason why, with optimal running form, your body can't absorb the impact.

    For what it's worth, I think there are a few reasons why VFFs might not be worn (at least publicly) by professional athletes.  First, I doubt Vibram can offer as much sponsorship money as Nike and Adidas and second, switching to minimal shoes requires a long transition period if you're going to do it without injury and I don't think they'd want to risk that in their training schedule.

    * I switched back to my 'normal' running shoes for longer distance training/racing while I was building up the mileage in VFFs. 

  • I've been running with Vibram KSO shoes all this year. I have completed a fair amount of races in them including various 10k's (including one this morning) Eccup 10 mile, Glasgow Half Marathon and a load of Parkruns.

    I also have Brooks T7 Racers which I wear now and again when the Vibrams are getting cleaned and also have trail shoes for boggy races.

    Here's my analysis anyway:


    • They have removed all of my ITB problems on longer runs by improving my form and stopping me striking on the backfoot when fatigued.
    • I am a more efficient and quicker runner on any running shoe due to the improved form.
    • Light and comfortable
    • You get some interesting looks and shouts from crowds
    • As above, great conversation starter although this may be a con if I'm being referred to as "the barefoot weirdo" who knows
    • Uphill running is far more efficient, I took over so many people this morning on the steep hills
    • The rubber sole is very strong and will stop you getting sole punctures from glass & other rubbish


    • They are expensive, I will be shopping around for my next pair. In fact I clicked this thread in the hope to find a decent alternative
    • ITB problems have been replaced by blisters and calf strains
    • Downhills after 8 miles of long races especially in the heat are painful due to rubbing, although this may be that mine are slightly too big
    • Resistance to rain, especially cold rain is very poor
    • They stink, especially after a run in the rain


    • If you're considering buying a pair I would try before you buy, do not order online. You need to get a good fit or else you may encounter blister or calf problems.  
    • Before buying I would try adding a mile or so of pure barefoot running into the end of your runs, just to get used to the feeling and the shorter stride. This may also be an alternative to buying them if you're just looking to improve your gait.  
    • Build up your calf strength beforehand, you will need it.  
    • Buy some compeed rub or anti chafing gel, you'll need that too.  
    • Leave a month of solitary training and treat that month as if you've just returned from a long serious injury. You will have to build up the mileage and speed slowly as you adapt. After that you'll be ready to compete just as you did before.
    • I wouldn't say they are faster shoes, but they have made me faster, if that makes any sense. I ran the same Parkrun with the VFFs one week and Brooks T7s the next and my times were 3 seconds apart. I have knocked a minute off my 5k time and 3 mins off my 10k & half marathon times since training with VFF.   

    Think that covers it image and if anyone could recommend a cheaper, blister free alternative then I'm all ears.

  • I prefer my New Balance Minimus to VFFs for running. I use my VFFs for casual stuff and yoga now image


  • Shanko wrote (see)
    • They stink, especially after a run in the rain

    You can just throw them in the washing machine, though.  image

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