30 June 2012

Minimal Shoes ... VFFs

WARNING, WARNING ... old, worn, thoroughly used shoe photos ahead.  These are not nice, neat, nor brand new shoes in the following photographs.  For the sensitive, avert your eyes ...

I can guarantee you one thing with a transition to "minimal shoes" ... you will learn proper exercise form, or else.  :)

I transitioned to approximately half my time in minimal shoes in late 2011.

I had seen Vibram Five Fingers (VFFs) for several years, and thought they looked a bit silly.  However, everything I read on them was intriguing and, since I happened upon a sale anyway, I decided to try a pair out.

FYI - For me personally, I don't have any trouble putting VFFs on, I find it easy to figure out where my toes go, and they slip on practically like slippers after all this time. 

Here are my first and favorite VFFs, the KSO Trek in kangaroo leather.  They fit my foot beautifully, and this is the only shoe I would wear if they were a touch more "acceptable."  I ordered them in a size 40 as per fitting recommendations.  This is my European shoe size.  In "American" shoes, I generally wear a women's 9.5B dress shoe or a 10B in athletic shoes.

My only problem?  I wish they reversed the velcro.  I cannot wear longer pants with these as the fabrics catch in the exposed hook side due to my high instep.

I will say, this is not your father's kangaroo leather, it is not stinky or thick, but supple and easy to deal with.  So far, I have not experienced the VFF funk I have read about on other forums.

I enjoyed the KSO Treks so much, that I ordered a second pair (also on sale), Jaya LRs in Almond/Copper color: size 41 (as per fitting recommendation).  These are like slippers, and they are my *only* house shoe for spring and fall.

I had two problems with these.  First off, they are a bit tighter in the pinky toe than the KSO Treks, and I fell asleep in them my second wearing.  When I woke up my pinky toes really hurt!  Ouch.  Moral of this story, don't fall asleep in new VFFs!  :)  They have since stretched out with wear, and I have fallen asleep in them several additional times without pain upon waking.

Second issue, since these have stretched out quite a bit, I cannot workout in them.  Hence the reason they are house shoes only.

My third pair of VFFs were the Performa Jane, size 41, which I absolutely love.  I wish they had a less wear-away base, because these would not last long on concrete.  They are great weight lifting, house, and relaxing shoe.  I don't expect them to have the longevity I would prefer.  I wish they came in a wider range of colors ... psst, Vibram FiveFingers, Give us warmer colored girls something to wear, wouldja?

My fourth pair of VFFs were the Sprint, size 41.  I strongly dislike this shoe.  If I had started with these, I would not have a good impression of VFFs and may never have purchased another pair.  I got these for aerobics because the tread on the Treks are too aggressive for slipping and side to side motion ... a basic requirement of kickboxing.  These are the shoes that taught me the lesson at the beginning of this post.  I get more numb toe issues with these VFFs than any other pair of shoes I've ever worn.  I also had to do major surgery to these to make them halfway wearable by slicing the elastic at the heel.  Surgery did not improve them enough to make them wearable.

I usually wear my shoes into the ground before I replace them.  These are not going to make it that far.  I have considered, more than once, turning them into: dog toys or trash dwellers.

Moral of this portion?  If you have tried VFFs and had a bad experience but like the idea of the shoes, you might consider another style.  Because the style you picked may have been bad for you, not necessarily the entire line.

But I still had issues with my KSO Treks, I have hot spots develop when doing cross training movements.  TaDa ... SmartWool Toe Socks ...

Yeah, KSO Treks dye my socks pretty badly.  I've never had the KSO Treks dye my feet when worn without socks ... but I suspect leather and wool dye have many similarities in property, and I'm just glad the dye issue stops with my socks.

Something I figured out pretty early on, when putting on the socks, pinch a quarter of an inch or so beyond your toe.  If the socks are pulled on really tight, exercise could tighten them more and dig into the soft tissue between your toes.

And here we are ...


No more hot spots, no more blisters, regardless of how much horizontal stress movement I place on my feet.  Good thing too, since I haven't found anything that works as well as my VFF KSO Treks.  I hope VFF brings back the kangaroo leather soon.

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