Part of my forefoot running success came from wearing the Vibram FiveFinger running shoes because the lack of cushioning is a painful reminder to avoid heel strike when you run. This is one of the main purposes of the Vibram FiveFinger running shoes is that they assist in a forefoot strike landing because the barefoot construction of the shoe gives plenty of ground feel which is key when you are learning forefoot running.
Purpose of the Vibram FiveFinger Running Shoes
Long-term use of stability running shoes with arch support prevents the feet from being functionally independent. When the feet have limited mobility in a standard running shoe, this causes a runner to sustain poor foot health and when the feet aren’t being used, brings on a multitude of other complications that can be injurious during running, such as impaired balance, poor shock absorption and muscle atrophy in the feet.
Can foot problems caused by cushioned running shoes be reversed?
Yes, with permanent use of minimalist footwear, such as the Five Finger minimalist shoes, which holds the promise of restoring the self-reliance and strength of the feet because these shoes are arch-supportless and provide well-rounded sensory stimulation to the feet, thereby improving your neuromuscular system –the nerves in the feet have extensive connections to the motor cortex in your brain.
Overall, the toe shoes are extremely light-weight, super flexible, fit like a sock, and are as close to being barefoot as you’re going to get in a shoe, helping your feet stay active with greater range of motion and flexibility compared to standard running shoes.
As for me, I am nonetheless grateful that running and walking in the Five Finger running shoes allowed me to fully regain muscle power in my feet as well as clearer sensations from the ground. These benefits not only improved my running form, they improved my running performance because strong healthy feet means less time spent injured. In regular running shoes, I was unable to experience tactile and muscular feedback ( called proprioception) at my feet which is one of the reasons I suffered injury upon injury.
Still discouraged by running in such footwear? Here’s what research has found thus far about the Five Finger toe shoes vs running regular shoes:
Other work has found:
- Regular running shoes have a toe spring which is linked to MTP injury.
- Vibram running shoes was found to reduce both knee and lower back pain.
- Runners benefited more from the Vibram FiveFingers vs the Nike Free 5.0.
- Vibram FiveFingers prompted more efficient ankle mechanics during running.
- Thick, cushioned running shoes impairs foot placement awareness.
Runners have tried, and tried to wear different types of cushioned footwear, but because the added cushioning reduces sensory input at the nerves in the feet, makes it challenging for your forefoot strike running form to be in perfect alignment.
In essence, the feet become blinded when running in thick, cushioned footwear and fail to ‘read’ the surface accurately, preventing you from interacting with the ground safely.
If you are undecided on what Vibram shoe is right for your, here are my reviews on the best Vibram FiveFinger shoes for trail running, endurance running, winter running, etc.
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Chambon et al. The effect to shoe drop on running pattern.Comput Methods Biomech Biomed Engin, 2013; 16(1):97-8
Squadrone, R., and Gallozzi, C. Effect of a five-toed minimal protection shoe on static and dynamic ankle position sense. J Sports Med Phys Fitness, 2011;51(3):401-8.
Run Forefoot, because you are faster than you think!
BSc Neurobiology; MSc Biomechanics candidate, ultra minimalist runner & founder of RunForefoot. I was a heel striker, always injured. I was inspired by the great Tirunesh Dibaba to try forefoot running. Now, I'm injury free. This is why I launched Run Forefoot, to advocate the health & performance benefits of forefoot running and to raise awareness on the dangers of heel striking, because the world needs to know.