Five Fingers Fun

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas came early this year, Mrs. Hazmat got me a pair of Vibram Five Fingers Classic shoes. For those who don't follow the crazy outdoors/fitness/training culture you may have never heard of Vibram Five Fingers. To put it simply, they are shoe with toes or gloves for your feet!

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Now, I'm a big proponent of barefoot training, but don't just take my word for it, check out this quote from The Wall Street Journal.
Some experts now believe that most athletic shoes, with their inflexible soles, structured sides and super-cushioned inserts keep feet so restricted that they may actually be making your feet lazy, weak and more prone to injury. As a result, barefoot training is gaining more attention among coaches, personal trainers and runners.While exercising without shoes may sound painful, the idea is that your feet need a workout, too. Proponents believe running barefoot changes a runner's form and body mechanics to prevent some common athletic injuries. - Is barefoot better?

Ever since I built out the home gym in 2005 I've enforced a personal no shoes policy when lifting. In the beginning it took a good bit of getting used to, I would grab a kettlebell and start doing cleans, the whole time thinking.. if this falls I'm going to lose a few toes. However, as most of my friends assured me, even if I was wearing shoes a 50lb KB was capable of inflicting considerable damage if dropped on the feet.

So I went on lifting barefoot for over a year, worked out great, I enjoyed the lifting and personally felt an immediate improvement in balance and coordination when especially during single leg modalities such as single leg squats, presses, and rows.However, when you train barefoot in a gym where others wear shoes you end up with some pretty dirty feet. The solution was simple, a strong scrub brush to the soles after every session, sure it's a hassle but it keeps the feet in fighting form so it's worth doing.

Then enter the Five Fingers. Mrs. Hazmat and I were surfing the web one afternoon and stumbled across these little beauts. I'm convinced she thinks I'm crazy, but like the great wife she is she keeps those thoughts to herself and secretly ordered me a pair. As you can see she went with the black on black Vibram Five Fingers Classic. Very sharp. Yes, those are my hobbit legs!

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Eager to try them out I slipped them on and headed out to the gym. Well, actually it wasn't that fast, you see putting on "toe shoes" is an art all to itself, it takes time to line up each toe, trust me you know very quickly if you missed one. More importantly it takes time to get the adjustment strap on the heel of each shoe just right. Too tight and it pinches the top of your foot, too loose and your heels will come out of the shoe. The first few times I put them on was a little more of a challenge, a few days into it I'm a pro!

So back to the experience. It really is like walking around barefoot, I can still plant and pivot on the balls of my feet, I can grip the ground easily during explosive movements, I can even push off for steps and lunges with no adverse slipping or shoe movement.

The best part is yet to come, they are 100% machine washable. You know gym shoes get loaded with sweat and develop their own special odor in no time, it's nice to know I can toss my five fingers in the wash and pull them out good as new.

All in all I couldn't be more pleased with my new lifting shoe.

Lift Well, Lift Barefoot (well..sort of)


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Steve said...

Hey, I have been wearing some Vibram KSOs for the last month or so, and am going to do a quick post on my blog. Before I did so, I figured I'd better do a quick search for Vibram and BJJ. Lo and behold, you're ahead of me on the trend.

I love my new shoes so far, and wear them pretty much all the time. I swear that I'll have monkey feet in a few years. (Okay, maybe not).

Take care.