Vibram FiveFingers are unique in two primary ways. First and most obvious - the toes are separated individually. This allows you to engage more of the muscles in your foot for balance and propulsion. Second, there is no (or in some models, minimal) midsole to absorb shock. Because of this, it's less comfortable to land on your heels. Therefore, many who wear FiveFingers shift to a midfoot strike and use their muscles, connective tissue, and joints to absorb the shock as opposed to the skeletal impact usually caused by heel striking.
FiveFingers initially feel different compared to standard footwear. First, because there's material between each toe, and second, because there's no cushy padding under the foot. Most people get used to the feel of FiveFingers after a few sessions.
You can run as far in FiveFingers as you can with any other shoe, but you have to work up to it. You are using a slightly different set of muscles with FiveFingers, and your feet and legs will fatigue faster than normal during the first few sessions.
How well do FiveFingers protect my feet from injury?
While FiveFingers do provide some rubber in front of your toes, it's certainly not up to the level of toe protection provided by the typical hiking boot. You have to be more aware of how and where you are running/stepping. Direct impact with sticks and curbs is not advised. Also, because of minimal cushioning in FiveFingers, special care should also be taken while descending a rocky trail, especially if your feet are tired.
Ideally, you will want your toes and heel to fit into each pocket so that they're comfortably snug, with your longest toe grazing the end of the toe pocket. You do not want the standard room desired in traditional footwear.
Although it is perfectly fine for your toes to graze the end of the toe pockets, make sure each toe can extend fully. If any of your toes are scrunched or curled due to lack of space, you need to go up in size. If you wiggle your toes and they slip out of the toe pockets, you need to go down in size. Ultimately, you should find a pair that you are comfortable in and that allow you to perform activities freely and naturally - as if you were wearing no shoes at all!
It can take a while at first. But as you get used to moving your toes independently, and as your toes naturally spread from repeated wearing, putting on FiveFingers becomes as easy as putting on a glove.
I'm a man; can I wear women's sizes? (Or, I'm a woman; can I wear men's sizes?)
Many male consumers try on a women's-size FiveFingers with great success. The only difference between men's and women's FiveFingers is that men's models are slightly wider and longer than women's. If your foot is smaller than the smallest men's size, certainly try on a women's size based on your measurement in inches. You may have much better luck! If you are a woman and your foot is bigger than the largest women's size, try on a men's model based on your foot measurement in inches.
FiveFingers are machine washable. Use a gentle, warm water cycle with liquid or powdered detergent. Hang to air dry. Make sure to keep the KSO Trek away from direct sunlight or heat source while drying.
Vibram FiveFingers are designed to be worn directly against the sole of your foot, promoting better foot mechanics naturally. Putting something between the two would defeat their purpose. If you have an extremely flat foot, you will need to work into wearing your FiveFingers gradually, as your muscles will need time to adapt and strengthen.
You can wear toe socks in FiveFingers but it's a question of preference. Wearing socks with Vibram FiveFingers can reduce transition time for sensitive feet, friction/hot spots, and odor from sweat, and increase thermal regulation.
Still have questions about FiveFingers? Please contact Eastern Mountain Sports Customer Service at 888-463-6367