Transitioning To Vibram FiveFingers

Making the transition from traditional shoes to Vibram FiveFinger Shoes is something that everyone needs to undertake. Anyone looking to switch to Vibram FiveFingers should take into consideration the following factors before making the switch:

  • Any injury history - particularly in legs and/or feet
  • How fit they are
  • Overall bodyweight
  • Running goals
  • Level of commitment

An adapting period is completely normal when first wearing a pair of Vibram FiveFinger Shoes because the body needs time to adjust whilst the feet and lower legs increase both their strength and mobility. In short, because our feet are designed to be free, not constricted in heavily padded shoes and trainers, this is especially true when undertaking exercise. Wearing FiveFingers for running, at the gym or during outside activities will make your feet stronger and healthier—naturally. A transition is necessary to improve strength, flexibility and range of motion otherwise an early injury is likely. Any pain, which may be noticed in the beginning, will decrease after a couple weeks of wearing.

There are many models, such as the El-x and Bikila Evo, which have been created as entry-level shoes for first- time wearers of Vibram FiveFinger Shoes. Whilst still retaining a zero-drop between the toe and heel, they have more cushioning than some of the more minimalist version. These also have EVA foam in the sole to ease the wearer into their new gait. These models are both excellent starting points for Vibram FiveFingers depending on whether you are looking for a running or gym shoe.

Before using Vibram FiveFingers regularly, we recommend that you walk around in them for a few days so your feet become accustomed. Gradually build up to wearing them for a few light workout sessions. Many people make the mistake of doing too much, too quickly, and that’s a big mistake. Not transitioning correctly can lead to pain, injury, and discouragement. Remember, your feet, ankles and calves are weak from running or walking in traditional shoes for the majority of your life with their unnecessary added protection and restriction.  If you are a runner, to aid in building up the strength in your feet, use a slow and pragmatic approach to this, because in truth it could take several months before your feet are sufficiently strong enough to run your normal 15 miles in Vibram FiveFingers. 

If you have any reservations because you have either flat feet or high arches, wearing Vibram FiveFingers is perfectly fine, but it is advisable to take a slower approach to the transition. If you have any major concerns, then you should consult with your doctor.

For best results we advise, at a minimum to follow the Foot Fitness Program Practice below. Do the exercises in 3 sets of 20 reps at least 5 times a week for 2 weeks:

  1. Heel raise
  2. Toe grip
  3. Dorsi/plantar flexion
  4. Toe spread/tap
  5. Exaggerated eversion/inversion
  6. Grabbing a towel on the floor with toes and pass to other foot
  7. Walking in FiveFingers

Once the feet and lower-leg muscles have been strengthened and stretched using the specific exercises above, you can begin more functional movements in your Vibrams, such as squats, lunges and walking around in the gym or around the house. If you would like to follow a full foot-training regime please follow through by doing the following:

  • Try walking around the home barefoot as often as possible
  • Give yourself foot massages
  • Soak your feet in a hot bath
  • Apply Shea butter or a good moisturising lotion
  • You can also roll your feet on massage balls

Remember to take it slowly. You should not expect go from 0-60 straight away. If you are a runner definitely do not try to replicate your current mileage after you first switch from traditional running shoes to Vibram FiveFingers. We would also advise that when you start wearing Vibram FiveFingers try to avoid running on softer surfaces such as grass because a softer surface means that it will be more difficult to tell if you are heel striking, so when making the switch to tarmac you could do some serious damage to yourself.

Obviously because you cannot go out running straight away and it is imperative to find out if you have the correct size, we would suggest jumping on the spot and carrying out some lunges. If they feel snug and are comfortable then you have most likely picked the correct size. If you find that in order to get a grip you have to scrunch your toes up or that the heel is slipping out of place, you should first you try to tighten them. After you tighten them, this is still happens then you should try a smaller size. When you put the Vibrams FiveFingers on if they feel too tight and there is a feeling of compressing or restriction in the toes then you should try a larger sized shoe.

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