Sunday, December 6, 2009
This article recently reminded me that one of the first things I pledged to write about when I started this blog and haven't gotten around to yet are my Vibram Fivefingers.
I remember reading about Vibram Fivefingers in an article about MovNat and Erwan LeCorre in Men's Journal about a year ago and thinking that it was an interesting concept. The idea behind MovNat, to paraphrase, is that the human body will benefit most from performing the motions and exercises it was built for. Running and climbing in jungles and on beaches, with weight resistance coming from unstable things, swimming, and other exercises that come natural to humans. This follows the idea(s) that I have previously referred to as the "Paleo Principle."
More recently, through my research on athletic conditioning and all things performance-related, I have become aware of movements small and large of people who train barefoot, run barefoot, lift barefoot, and love it. I found studies and books supporting the idea that being barefoot was better for our posture, our joints, our muscular development.
So, a few weeks before I started this blog, I received my Vibram Fivefingers Flows. Contrary to other peoples' experiences, I got the size right on the first try using the sizing chart on their website.
I wore them to walk around for a few days before I had a chance to hit the gym for a serious lower body workout. It was that first workout that convinced me beyond doubt of the rightness of working out barefoot. I remember thinking I'd never felt as good after lifting so heavy.
The next day, when I had to put my regular shoes back on, I felt awkwardly pitched forward, artificially supported, awkward and uncomfortable immediately. I still can't wait to get out of a pair of "regular" shoes and into my Vibram Fivefingers every day. I wear them out shopping, to the gym, and anywhere else that it's not appropriate to be barefoot.
The Big 5 isn't just about your diet. It's about being well and feeling well. It's about "rightness." Being barefoot is something humans undoubtedly did for millions of years.
The human foot is not designed to support your entire body's weight throughout a variety of activities with the help of a pair of super-cushioned arch-supported composite fancy running sneakers. Nor is the human hip or knee. It's designed to strike the ground forefoot-first when running. The toes are designed to splay and grip and propel their owner forward. The ankle is designed for free dorsiflexion and landing on a variety of surface shapes.
I have to honestly report that you couldn't pay me enough to switch back to a traditional running/cross-training/hiking shoe. And I'm not currently being compensated in any way by the Vibram people, but I can't promise to turn down any checks that show up in my mailbox (hint, hint).