I began barefoot running a few months back in an attempt to build foot strength and improve form. My initial attempts were all circuit runs around the play field of a local elementary school with nothing protecting my toes. Aside from the chilly morning grass there was very little I had to protect my feet from as I ran around this well-manicured lawn.
Then the positive results started to arrive. Within a month of starting my foot size had shrunk about a half a size. I became very much more conscious of my foot fall while running, and thus avoided opportunities for hurting my feet and legs even while running with shoes. And the muscle tissue starting at my foot and up through my ankle become very much stronger.
At about the same time Christopher McDougal’s book “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen” started hitting the scene. It moved to the top of my reading list specifically because of the premise. Thus you can read the rest of this review with whatever level of skepticism you feel the concept of barefoot running might warrant. As for me, I’m a true believer at this point.
Vibram FiveFingers KSO
I wanted to get off the grass and down something interesting. After spending a few hours searching for sandals that might do the job of protecting my feet from stickers and rocks while providing no support I randomly encountered the Vibram offerings.
I’ve been cross training in the FiveFinger KSO now for nearly two months, over many different surfaces. On a couple of occasions I have bruised the soft tissue of a toe or the arch of my foot, but this is usually caused by inattention on my part and it’s not something the “foot gloves” are necessarily designed to protect you from.
I have run in the open desert and overland where cactus and rattlesnakes are plentiful. The geology of hills around town is rough, hard and volcanic. The KSOs haven’t let me down yet.
Two things that I wish Vibram would consider doing with a future model. First, some very light tread would be very helpful to trail runners. In particular, I’ve noticed that on wet or muddy trails my heal tends to slip when I’m descending. I’ve had no difficulty climbing in these because I can grip and claw with my toes in a way not possible with shoes.
Second possible improvement would be to come-up with a model lacks the little yellow Vibram logo on the sole. It’s nearly impossible to make consistent Sasquatch tracks in the mud if every third one has a brand name embedded in your footprint.
If you’re looking for a protective layer that provides no support and allows you barefoot freedom on the trail this is the foot-glove for you. I’ve been super happy with mine and will continue to cross train in them.