I’ve been keeping a little secret from everyone on Facebook who hasn’t seen me in a bit. I’m wearing crazy, funky shoes that have “somewhat” changed my life.
My husband was the first to purchase the Vibram 5 Fingers shoeline in our household.When he first put them on I was visually disgusted. He had what I could only equate as “Gorilla Feet.” They were an eyesore and I was sure that going out in public with him wearing those would result in a local paper snapping our picture and publishing us as a fashion “don’t”.
Then he started prancing.
He would leap and frolic and comment on how much he loved his new shoes and he didn’t care how ugly they were because they made him so happy. There was a lot of foot joy in those first few months and his excitement was starting to wear off.Now, I had made a pact with myself that I would no longer fall into the fashion fads of past years. I remember clearly being horrified at the advent of the culotte in 70′s fashion and swore that no person would ever see me set foot in a pair. But…slowly my friends were wearing them…and then they became kind of, dare I say it, cute? A month or two down the line and I was begging my mom to drive me to Lamont’s to purchase my first pair. I still carry that shame.
I thought I was more than safe from the fickle desires of my youth because these shoes were butt ugly and they had the added mortifying benefit of having individual toe holes. Made me shiver to even think about it. I don’t like it when I accidentally have stuff between my toes let alone put anything there intentionally.
After another month or so of continual prancing and comments on how much better he felt running or walking or sitting or standing and the highest of recommendations from my cousin, Tina, a magical reflexologist, I decided to give them a try. Yes, I’ll admit it, I wanted the culotte.
I ordered my first pair online and immediately screwed it up because I decided to measure my foot (the shoes come in European sizes) with a ruler on the floor. Please note, unless you REALLY know your size in these shoes do not buy them online. They fit to your toes and your heels and you will not know your size until you try them on.
I chuckled at the fact that the shoes come with a warning to make sure to “gradually adjust” to the shoes so that your muscles wouldn’t get thrashed too badly at the initial wearing. I shouldn’t have chuckled. After meandering around the house for a few hours I decided that my next jaunt would be a little slow jog around the neighborhood. The total loop had hills and flats and totaled a little over 2 miles. Usually after every jog or walk I would be left with a hip aching so badly the pain would run down my leg. Also, my feet always, always hurt. When I finished the jog I was surprised to find that my hips didn’t feel a thing. My feet were a little shocked by the pavement and the slapping but I think that had much more to do with the fact that my gait had been improper for so many years. I couldn’t just get used to walking properly within the span of a short jog.
The next morning I could barely walk. It wasn’t my hips or my feet. It was my calves. They were tighter than they had ever been and I felt like they were being ratcheted tighter with each step. Aaaaaah, this was why they gave you the warning! I made a note to be more careful next time. However I was left feeling satisfaction that my muscles were sore but not my skeletal system.
I’ve had my toe shoes for over 2 years now and they have really been through the ringer. I always wear them when I exercise, rain or shine, and they are absolutely thrashed because of it. One thing to mention about these shoes, they are NOT weather friendly. If there is even the slightest moisture on the ground you will find it in your shoes. If it’s cold, your feet are colder! I’m excited for Vibram to create an “all weather” shoe that truly keeps you warm and dry but we may be a ways away from that.
I love my shoes. I can say confidently that I am not wearing them as a fad but because they truly let me feel the earth under my feet, correct my gait so that I feel it when I’m walking wrong and let me walk farther without the inevitable backaches, hip and feet problems afterward. At one point, while walking from the waterfront in San Francisco up to our hotel on Nob Hill, I realized that I had walked 3 hours in my shoes with nary a discomfort.
Now I’ve become a loud advocate for the barefoot lifestyle. After months (maybe years) of trying to convince my VERY picky friend to try them (and once even getting so far as convincing her to purchase a pair which she immediately returned without ever wearing) I was able to persuade her to try a shoe with a Vibram sole, albeit covered like a normal shoe (no toe holes).
As she experiments with the shoes (walking, jogging, etc.) we will document her likes and dislikes and let you know her final judgement. As I mentioned, she is VERY picky and critical. Seriously, she would be an ideal job applicant at Consumer Reports. So, until next time ~ Hang 10!