Walk a Mile in My Shoes

Or how about run a mile…in no shoes at all.  I recently went for my first ‘barefoot’ run in my Vibram Five Finger shoes.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check these out: www.vibramfivefingers.com.  These are, by far, the most functional and odd looking shoes on the market.  I have two pair of them and can’t say enough good things about them.  They are taking the body back to the way it was designed to be…barefoot.  Vibrams let the foot move–they separate the toes and let the metatarsals spread.  As the metatarsals spread, the muscles of the foot are allowed to work and grip better.  This causes a functional chain reaction up the body, because the foot bone is connected to the leg bone.  As the foot becomes more functional, the ankle will do the same, followed by the knee, hip, etc.

What I thought was really interesting about running in my Vibrams was the fact that I could HEAR my hips functioning better.  Hang with me and I’ll explain what I’m talking about.  I was running on the indoor track at my local YMCA.  At this particular location, 22 laps is equal to one mile.  The first few laps went pretty much how I thought they would.  When my heel would strike the ground, my forefoot slapped down with a loud ‘thwack’ sound.  The good news is that both feet were ‘thwacking’ equally.  I felt that I was striking both sides with the same amount of weight and getting equal toe-off on both sides as well.  However, things started to change around lap 17 or 18.  My hips finally started to kick in (remember the chain reaction I talked about earlier?  It had finally reached my hip flexors by that point) and the ‘thwacking’ of my feet became much, much softer.  I was finally able to control my forefoot strike and I was running quieter.  My hips were functioning better, so my knees were functioning better, my ankle functioned better and my foot functioned better.  The last 5-6 laps were extremely different from the first 17-18.  I finished the mile in about 9:30 (for you competitive/professional runners reading this posting you can stop laughing now!), so my pace wasn’t blistering, but I also wasn’t out to break any records.

The after affects of running in my Vibrams was much different than I expected as well.  I for sure thought I was going to be sore, but I wasn’t at all.  My feet felt great, my hips felt great.  I felt better after my run than I did before it.

So, if you’re interested in trying out the Vibrams, go for it.  Do your Egoscue menu to get functional first, and then take them for a test run.  If you do it, or if you have done it, leave a comment and share your Vibram experience!