Are Vibram FiveFingers Safe To Wear?
The Vibram FiveFinger shoes are not for everyone, but for the majority of people they are excellent. However, for some people they can be harmful.
There is a debate in the academic and athletic world about the safety of minimalist and their overall efficiency. Since the beginning of time people have been running, and many were running barefoot. Overly protective footwear is a recent phenomenon. It has only been since 1972 that people have been wearing the type of shoes that have a negative impact on feet; with thick soles, combined with an unnatural elevation from toe to heel. So how did our ancestors cope? New styles of maximalist shoes were created in the belief that they would be more beneficial for the foot, but there was no scientific evidence backing this up. In the past people did have any need to cope!
Your toes are designed to have as much dexterity as your fingers and with training they should be able to flex and extend, abduct and adduct, just like fingers. Between them your feet have 52 bones, which is 26 bones per foot. Putting this into perspective, in the entire body there are only 206 bones. So that is just over a quarter of all your bones being in your feet. They are an incredibly complex part of the body and that means the feet play a major part in the body’s nervous system. It also means that, although they are often not properly taken care of, they should be because your feet are extremely important. They play a huge role in the overall health and functioning of the human body.
If a runner who wears traditional shoes were asked to suddenly run in minimal footwear, without strengthening the muscles of the foot or addressing form and without following a transitional period, they would inevitably become injured. A huge problem with wearing traditional shoes is with the support they provide and the toe to heel elevation. This all leads to the deconditioning of the foot, which in turn leads to muscle imbalance and incorrect posture. Before embarking on a marathon, the foot must be retrained. Wearing Vibram FiveFinger shoes alone is not the cause of injury; rather it is the hurried transition from traditional running shoes to Vibram FiveFingers without the proper conditioning.
Wearing Vibram FiveFingers shoes will decrease the pressure on the entire body caused by heel striking. After the wearer has become accustomed to Vibram FiveFingers they will naturally learn to strike with the heel farther from the ground, with greater acceleration forces, as well as a naturally more balanced foot motion.
Minimalist running in the most suitable Vibram FiveFinger shoes encourages the toes to splay in a natural way. They also allow for foot flexing and a better use of ground contact, which not only leads to a better running performance, but also reduces the risk of common running injuries. This is all happening while the tendons and foot muscles are being strengthened. Wearing Vibram FiveFinger shoes means that the wearer is not creating the transient impact force spikes that go through to their joints, which is what causes injuries.
Anyone who is looking to trade in their trainers for the minimalist shoe can, but to do this they first must plan on strengthening their foot, ankle, and calf muscles. A change in form for runners would also be very beneficial during the transitional period.