I was first exposed to Vibram (pronounced vee-brum) Five Fingers thanks to Tim Ferris. I read several reviews and did my research. After careful consideration I decided to purchase a pair of VFF KSOs.
VFF technology is simple. Have you ever run barefoot on the beach or on grass? Did you feel it (specifically your form) was different from running in sneakers? Well, it is. In short, running barefoot vs. running with sneakers uses different muscles and affects your body differently. The best for us upright apes would be barefoot. But running barefoot in the city may not be too sanitary; just as running barefoot on a trail may not feel too lovely. So, how can we protect our feet while running, without loss of speed or dexterity, while keeping our (upright ape) natural form? VFF.
Because it was raining and I didn’t want to go outside, I was confined to testing the KSOs indoors. Fitting was difficult, but I did not take it easy once they were on. I did repeated couch jumps, which is something I occasionally do. They stood the test and I was impressed. They definitely have more control and stability than sneakers. Balance, landing your jump et al. will take some time to adjust to. FYI, if you don’t land properly, you will hurt your heels.
I had trouble with the fitting again. It took about 3 min. to put them on. As for the run, I took it slow. I ran 1k, stretched, then walked back home. It really felt like I was running barefoot. Sharp rocks will hurt your feet, but they won’t penetrate through the rubber soles. I felt like an upright running frog. After the run, areas that were never sore before began throbbing, such as foot arch, above and around the ankles and below the calf muscles. I think they were newly activated muscles, or strain on muscles that were rarely used with traditional footwear.
[1 week later] Fitting still takes a few minutes to get on properly. I tried to run a bit faster and further this time: 1.5 km. The main thing I noticed this time was a stamina increase. For some reason I didn’t feel tired while running, which I usually feel soon after 3,000 m. After the 1.5 km, when I stopped, the strain hit me, but it was nothing major. The same muscles, as in the first run, were feeling strain again. When I got home and took off my VFFs, my feet and lower legs felt stronger. Walking on hardwood floor had never felt so comfortable.
[a few days later] After rereading the instructions, I discovered a section I skipped: how to put on VFF. This solved my only problem. Now I can put both on in less than 30 sec. As for the run, I tried to run faster and further again (2 km). Unfortunately, I hurt the area below my right calf after 1.5 km when trying to jump over a 1.5 m bush.
[1 week later] I should mention I played 3 on 3 basketball a few days before, and my leg still wasn’t healed yet. However, I decided to challenge myself with a short run. Injured again … bad idea.
[2 weeks later] I gave my leg ample time to heal. This time I ran slowly but longer than usual (2.15 km). Afterward, I felt the appropriate soreness and was happy with the run. The soreness eventually developed into new muscular definition.
I’m very satisfied with this product and would recommend it to runners or health geeks. The only negative I can say was the original fitting, but I resolved this after rereading the instructions. I don’t think I would wear them on a date or when going out, but they’re great for training. If you’re in an area where you can run barefoot without any trouble, this product is not necessary for you.