Over the past week and a half, we have started acclimating to Vibram Five Fingers barefoot running shoes and have some mixed reviews.
Him: I've noticed that my calves ache post-run. As soon as I feel uncomfortable, I stop running because I want to gradually adjust to these shoes. It's still early on and it is normal muscle soreness that goes away after a day. Lifting weight in these is a better experience than with regular sneakers. They are incredibly comfortable shoes.
Her: I work out barefoot often - yoga, Lithe Method on hard floor, at home on my mat and on our flooring. We do a lot of hops and foot raises in Lithe and at first my calves would scream after a class there. Over the course of time, I have adjusted to this type of workout and it has strengthened my feet and legs considerably. After my first run in these, I felt like I wasn't running right and called Josh over to assess my foot strike and he told me I was fine. It still felt weird to me and I kept my run to half a mile. Since then, I am back to my normal warm-up run and it feels more natural. I still worry that I am going to hurt myself somehow but my feet and legs feel fine and the rest of my workout is smoother. No bulk or imbalance.
-No more expensive than a regular sneaker, although one of the pricier "minimalist" style running shoes out there, which tend to be a bit cheaper.
-More harmonious floor work. I am able to complete many of my favorite exercises without my stiff, unyielding, bulky Easytone sneakers getting in the way.
-Weight lighting is easier because you can evenly distribute the weight without automatically leaning forward because of your sneaker. Because of the free toe movement, you can keep your weight balanced naturally. There is more stability during overhead presses.
-Balance. I have even noticed an improvement in balance in these shoes during my routine, not just in lifting weight.
-Stronger legs/feet and more natural running with your feet underneath you instead of in front of you.
-No socks! Were you about to buy new socks? I was and I hate socks. Now I don't have to think about that just yet.
-You have to clean Vibrams in the washing machine every week or so and air dry. Unless you want to be that smelly person at the gym and create a welcoming ground for bacteria and fungi. At least you are washing less socks...
-You should build up to running in these. Because our feet/ankles were already conditioned, we started out with a half mile run on our first go, and are now running one mile runs to be careful. I usually don't run more than two miles every other day and we are not long distance runners, so we are not anticipating any injuries. If you are a serious runner, I would do further research and come up with a plan to ease into barefoot running.
-Your husband might try to wear them to dinner because they are so comfortable. I talked mine out of it.
-You will find running awkward at first and even dislike the experience until your body adjusts and re-learns form.
Overall, I am glad we gave the Vibrams a shot and we are both curious to see how the shoes are over a longer period of time. It will be an ongoing battle to keep my husband from wearing them every day.