The ecstasy of the feet.
November 2, 2011 3:29 PM   Subscribe

Christopher McDougall, barefoot running advocate and author of Born to Run (2009), pens a multipage article on shoeless running for the New York Times.
posted by Gordion Knott (57 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Not sure if it's just having spent years drinking the kool-aid without thinking about or knowing it, or what but the idea of running barefoot both thrills and terrifies me. I tend to do fairly well as far as avoiding injuries, but I'm not sure that isn't largely luck (and that I only run about 15-20 miles a week).

That said, it's an interesting article and great food for thought, thanks for posting.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 3:41 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Agreed. Interesting article... although... yeah. I dunno. I've been wearing minimalist shoes for awhile now (New Balance MT101s) and have run all kinds of distances in 'em -- even the Western States 100 -- but I'm not at all convinced they're a good idea for everyone. Certainly, when given access to "real" running shoes, the Tarahumara do wear 'em... and still win races.

Interestingly enough, in the ultra world, a lot of people are starting to wear Hoka shoes... pretty much the opposite of the minimalist thing.
posted by ph00dz at 3:45 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I ran a 100 miler that Barefoot Ted also ran (on pavement), and almost everyone thought he was nuts. People who had run with the Tarahumara had seen them wear shoes when given the opportunity.

I've never been sure how I felt about making a virtue out of necessity.
posted by OmieWise at 3:50 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Well, yeah: he specifically says that "[t]he 'one best way' isn’t about footwear. It’s about form. Learn to run gently, and you can wear anything. Fail to do so, and no shoe — or lack of shoe — will make a difference."

"Barefoot running" seems like a poorly thought-out name for a much broader concept that has nevertheless become the standard way of referring to that concept. Like "atonal music."
posted by No-sword at 3:53 PM on November 2, 2011 [5 favorites]

actually, the article isn't about shoeless running, it's about how shoes/no shoes isn't the issue when it comes to injuries - it's form!

It's just easier to find the right form, if your padded shoes don't teach you the wrong form to begin with.

The form they're saying to use can be use with shoes or barefoot.
posted by alex_skazat at 3:54 PM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]

I don't know if barefoot is the right answer, especially on pavement, but I have noticed that I'm much happier walking around all day when I wear something like (Asics) Onitsuka Tigers which are nothing more than a leather socks with a 1/4 inch of rubber on the bottom.
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:56 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Honk if you love Zola Budd.
posted by xowie at 3:58 PM on November 2, 2011

Form is necessary but not sufficient. Ask my sports physiotherapist who deals with stress fracture after stress fracture. The whole barefoot-running movement has been great for business. If you've run a lifetime in heavily cushioned high support shoes, you're unlikely to be able to just adopt the proper form and be a-ok.

I have two pair of running shoes currently in use:
- a big ole thick-cushioned pair of Asics that I do any amount of long distance running in
- a pair of Vibram "five fingers" that permit me the form of a barefoot runner (which does have a lot going for it) while protecting my feet from all the crap on the street

The Vibrams get increased use per week, starting with thirty seconds per day (increasing 30 seconds per day, every week). The rest of my running is done in the Asics. My form would improve more quickly using only the Vibrams, but that means either reducing my running to mere minutes a day or risking new injuries. So I toughen up with the Vibrams and get my real workout in the Asics, but over time (a lot of time) the heavy-cushioned monsters will be retired and not replaced.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:05 PM on November 2, 2011 [5 favorites]

I'm definitely going to be applying that stationary form/training method to my winter indoor cycling-oriented workouts.
posted by entropone at 4:05 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Durn Bronzefist is totally right. I've converted a lot of people (mostly non-runners, actually) to Vibrams, but I always have to tell them "You know how the little package insert says to start slowly? START SLOWLY. Like, half an hour or an hour of just walking around a day for the first week."

I've been wearing them for, hell, three years now? And was wearing Nike Frees for two years before that. But they do take a whole bunch of getting used to.
posted by restless_nomad at 4:08 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm not a runner, but I heard about this barefoot running thing a while ago and decided to give up ordinary shoes in favor of super-minimalist footwear that is just enough to get me past the "no shoes, no service" signs in restaurants. And I love it.

I feel that my posture and my sense of balance have improved, and that my awareness of what my feet are doing has increased dramatically. There aren't the same risks as with high-impact running (though you have a greater risk of stubbing your toe, etc.). Somebody really should become a vocal advocate of "barefoot walking".
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:15 PM on November 2, 2011 [3 favorites]

I've been running those 5K obstacle course/rough terrain deals for a couple of years now in Vibrams. I get lots of, "Yeah, let me know how your feet are after the race." (they're fine, and the first race like that I ran i wond my division). I also run completely barefoot occasionally, though I haven't in a while. It requires me to keep my form absolutely perfect or my feet will be sore.

Also, the intermittent knee problems I had before going minimal have since completely disappeared, and I've had exactly one injury playing soccer or running in about three years. So, yeah, I'm a convert, but I grew up going barefoot as often as I could anyway and have no, you know, foot abnormalities. There's no reason to think that everyone can or should run barefoot or in minimal shoes.

Those Hoka shoes are an abomination, though, and cheating.
posted by cmoj at 4:16 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

I started out in Vibrams by running five miles. And my calves hurt like sweet jesus fuck the next day, and for about a week. And then I ran about three miles the next three or four times. And that was it really. That was a couple years ago, and I occasionally go out in shoes just to remind myself how slow it makes me. Otherwise all my running is barefoot-style.

The five fingers are starting to wear out, and I'm looking for a new pair that don't have separated toes. I'm not sold on that being a crucial part of the whole thing, and it seems like it causes more wear and tear and blisters than its worth.

twoleftfeet: I have gone to almost completely barefoot in the summer too, for everything, for the same reasons as you. I would like to all year, but it's Maine. Brr.
posted by rusty at 4:18 PM on November 2, 2011

People have suggested that I wear Vibrams for my "barefoot walking", and I'd really be curious if anyone has tried this. Aside from the expense, I just don't want shoes that look like gloves because I don't want people asking me about my feet everywhere I go.

And yeah, barefoot walking not so good in snow or very rough terrain.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:25 PM on November 2, 2011

I wore my Vibrams sailing all summer, and yeah, the conversations get annoying. I'm not that interested in being an ambassador. I mean, if they want to pay me, sure...

I guess you could wear them walking. Why not? I generally just go barefoot though, and carry along some sandals if I might have to go in a store or whatever. It's not hard to avoid rocks and slugs when you're walking.
posted by rusty at 4:41 PM on November 2, 2011

Local running phenom Kenny Cormier is trading in his running shoes for a pair of combat boots.

This was the fad back in about 1977. If you want to be edgy this is it. Running in those funny slippers are already too trendy to be cool.
posted by three blind mice at 4:42 PM on November 2, 2011

Running in combat boots. Don't get me started. Ever peel the sole off a jungle boot mid-run? It was flapping around so bad it was getting wedged under my feet. Not even the famed 'airborne shuffle' prevented that.

"Boots and utes!" is still a call to make me grouse.

I like my pair of Nike Free 7.0, and I regularly run in a pair of NBs that have had all the tread worn off them (and are starting to literally come apart at the seams). The Vibrams appeal to me, but I did a trail and obstacle race where the guys around me were breaking their toes, so...
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:52 PM on November 2, 2011

I can't wear my Vibrams because my middle toe is too long for them. Which makes me really sad. So instead I wear Chucks, 1460 Docs or surf boots depending on weather and style needs. None of them reward a heavy heelstrike and in the Chucks and surf boots I can easily (and do usually) forefoot strike.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:55 PM on November 2, 2011

I always feel like these discussions of running shoes - wrapped up as they are in the nexus of branding and self-identification - ignore the larger reality of running, namely: the number one cause of running injury is over-training. That is the only conclusion that reams of research has been able to definitively bear out.

Certainly, you can pluck individual studies that say barefoot is better, or old-school padding is better, but as a totality the reality of over-training and injury is super, crystal clear, and the reality of a particular style of shoe leading to injury is far, far more murky.

Of course, such a staid conclusion that serves to promote no product over another is anathema to many of the companies funding and promoting research, and many of the runners looking for a magic bullet to their injury problems. It doesn't make very exciting magazine pieces, rhapsodically going on about how great it is completing a run when you're not injured, but there it is.

I find the evangelism about shoes kind of funny. You can run in clown shoes for all I care; I use what works for me, and I'm not very confident about asserting what will work for other people.
posted by smoke at 4:56 PM on November 2, 2011 [6 favorites]

I'm wearing out my second pair of Vibrams (god, the smell is awful--I swear they are rotting off my feet) and very slowly breaking in a pair of Luna sandals (they don't smell but take a lot of conditioning--and building up inside-of-the-big-toe callus).

It's definitely something that takes a lot of getting used to--I think I started out in half-miles in the Vibrams. I've turned down my big toe two or three times in a couple of years, but that's about it for damage--and I'm a 6'8" guy running on pavement who's normally quite paranoid about his knees.

I love 'em. They do seem to make running more fun--I ran cross-country in high school, hated it, and stopped running for almost a decade. And I just signed up for my first marathon today. So this is a well-timed article. ;)
posted by Earthtopus at 4:56 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Merrill trail gloves are essentially FiveFingers but with no toe pockets. Same sole thickness. I have been running in the Vibrams since last year, and I can say from experience that yes your calves wil hurt like hell, yes you need to start slow (unless you want a stress injury and about two months of working your way back into running again, like I did) and yes, they are great once you get the hang of it. Did 5 miles today and my feet and knees felt fine. These days when I go back to my Asics, my knees bother me within a few miles...
posted by caution live frogs at 4:57 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

"The five fingers are starting to wear out, and I'm looking for a new pair that don't have separated toes. I'm not sold on that being a crucial part of the whole thing, and it seems like it causes more wear and tear and blisters than its worth. "

I finally got their barefoot men's model The Adam in August. I have been averaging about 15 miles a week in them, after having run in a pair of vibram KSO treks. They are awesome, and the last they use fits my size 12.5 EEE foot wonderfully. It's a tossup whether i enjoy the shoes or my foam roller more...
posted by Donkey_Unicorn at 4:59 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Bicycling was a great intro to the Vibrams for me, too, at least as far as calf preparedness was concerned. I've since switched over to wearing Converse All-Stars at work and even they feel like I've got a brick strapped to each foot...
posted by Earthtopus at 4:59 PM on November 2, 2011

Helps if I actually make it a link.
posted by Donkey_Unicorn at 5:02 PM on November 2, 2011

The Merrill trail gloves are essentially FiveFingers but with no toe pockets.

their barefoot men's model The Adam

Thanks--I was just about to ask that very question. I want something that's like the Vibrams, except without separate toes. Monochromatic and unobtrusive-looking wouldn't be bad either.

posted by box at 5:04 PM on November 2, 2011

Oops--forgot to close the italic.
posted by box at 5:05 PM on November 2, 2011

I haven't seen the Adam shoe, but it looks interesting. The Merrill trail glove has (for me at least) about 85% of the barefootness and comfort of the FiveFingers, with none of the hassle of people wanting to talk to you about your feet. I like the Vibrams better, but don't love all the conversations that they bring.

I'm not a runner; this is just for general wear, including a lot of time on rough surfaces and hiking. I will say that I feel far more surefooted in minimalist shoes than I ever do in heavier shoes and boots. Your calves will definitely need time to adjust, and if you can't get yourself to stop hammering down with your heels, you probably shouldn't be wearing minimalist shoes, whether walking or running.
posted by Forktine at 5:20 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Also, maybe I'm not reading carefully enough, but his description at the very end of the article of the Minor and Major exercises don't make total sense to me; I think I need to see a diagram or a video to see what is really going on.
posted by Forktine at 5:29 PM on November 2, 2011

for anyone interested there's a pretty balanced post at runblogger outlining the current state of affairs. The writer is a barefoot proponent himself, but he's super clear about what we do and don't know about running, shoes, and injury.
posted by smoke at 5:32 PM on November 2, 2011

I really like my Vibrams, but since I will be starting a job again in a few weeks, I've been looking for other shoes that have similar no sole / zero drop profile, but look more appropriate in business casual offices (and rainy portland winters).

As for the transition phase: it is all about going slowly and letting your muscles get used to the fact that you are walking barefoot for the first time since you were four or so.
posted by mrzarquon at 5:33 PM on November 2, 2011

Forktine, there's a video on the nytimes page for the article that shows the Minor and Major exercises.
posted by needled at 5:37 PM on November 2, 2011

When I switched to a barefoot running style, problems I had related to distance running (numb feet in mile 3) went away. I then, like others in this thread, moved to minimal everyday footwear. My choice was the around-$15-on-amazon Feiyue kung fu shoe - I go through 1-2 pairs a year (the soft rubber soles wear through) and I love them.
posted by thedaniel at 5:41 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

oh, man, I wanted to try the Feiyues, and bought a pair of the 47s....and they're juuuuuuuuuuust a bit too small. I could never find a 48, either. I'm glad to hear you like them. But am a little bitter.
posted by Earthtopus at 5:48 PM on November 2, 2011

Learn to run gently, and you can wear anything.

I had no idea this was a thing. I learned to do this as a kid in self defense. I always went shoeless outside. Our grass had hidden stickerball things from the trees and the driveway had rocks. I learned to run very gently indeed.
posted by DU at 5:51 PM on November 2, 2011

I haven't switched to a barefoot shoe, but I am considering it. I definitely think there is something to this, since I have been running (dog agility) in minimalist, thin-soled sneakers (almost like dance sneakers), I run lighter and faster, my knees don't hurt, my feet don't hurt, and I can run two dogs in a three-day trial at five runs per dog per day and not keel over. It started because I accidentally forgot my thick-soled running shoes one weekend, and had to run in my crappy shoes, and I ran better, ran faster and was pain free. So now I have three pairs of crappy sneakers for agility, and I never wear anything else.
posted by biscotti at 5:52 PM on November 2, 2011

I walked around barefoot a lot when I lived up north at camp for a while- no broken glass and bits of metal and such to slice my feet open. However RUNNING barefoot? I'd like to see some studies on the health effects of that vs running shoes over the long term- bone stress, stuff like that.

Also: I never figured out the no shoes rules. I mean, are you touching the food with your feet? Eating off the floor? If the food is touching the floor, I don't want to eat it anymore. Actually, I'd rather you wear bare feet in that case, as they are probably cleaner then the shoes you've been wearing outside every day.
posted by Canageek at 5:56 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

I am currently walking around like an old(er) man on tender calves. Reading this thread makes me feel like I am on the right track.

I'll take sore muscles over the torqued knee that convinced me to change my form.
posted by TheRedArmy at 6:03 PM on November 2, 2011

I like the Vibrams better, but don't love all the conversations that they bring.
I wore my Vibrams all over about second looks. You haven't felt a starnger until a bunch of Italians are talking and pointing at your feet while your waiting for a bus.
I really like that the Altra Adam's come with two different insoles, one for transitioning and one for more cushioning, and you have a lot of versatility in a well designed, highly functional piece of footwear. They are a solid product, and if you're balling on a budget, aqua socks achieve the same effect.
The most important thing I learned from going minimalist, though, was to listen to my body, and let my feet do the figuring. They will find the best motion and as long as this is accepted, the miles just flow by.
posted by Donkey_Unicorn at 6:04 PM on November 2, 2011

I really like this line from Emerson's The Conduct of Life: “’Tis the same to him who wears a shoe, as if the whole earth were covered with leather".

Of course, Emerson is making a statement about wealth, which may have little to do with footwear, Nike sweatshops notwithstanding.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:33 PM on November 2, 2011

I was really into shoeless cycling, but 1) the rat-trap BMX pedals kinda hurt and 2) when I got my foot stuck between the pedal and the road that one time, the sensation of the asphalt rubbing on my toenails was too weird to put up with. Now I'm back to wearing boat shoes.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:36 PM on November 2, 2011

While I'm asking barefoot-shoe questions, what are some good shoes that can pass for business-casual?
posted by box at 6:40 PM on November 2, 2011

My wife is recovering from plantar fasciitis and would love, love, to buy a $180 pair of flat shoes. Is there any reason to buy expensive barefoot shoes? It seems to me that she should try Chuck Taylors, but I'd love to have someone smart back me up.
posted by bexpert at 7:20 PM on November 2, 2011

I wore vibrams for a long while, then switched to a minimalist huarache-style sandal (what the author of the linked article calls "spartacus sandals") during marathon training. Google "Luna Sandals" or "Invisible Shoe" if you're interested - I personally cut out the sandals myself out of a sheet of thin Vibram Cherry shoe sole material and string them with laces off of Invisible Shoe. I could write quite a bit on why I did this, what the training was like, and so on, but I'll just say this instead: I strongly prefer the sandals to the five fingers for casual wear.

They're just more comfortable, for one. The five fingers feel clammy and your feet get gross while you're wearing them. There's a reason everyone in this thread says that they smell awful - they soak up your sweat just like socks do. By comparison, in my sandals my feet feel close to barefoot. The feeling is a lot like flip-flops, but you don't have to alter your stride at all to keep the shoe on like you do with those. And, of course, the sole is much thinner than most flip flops.

Secondly, well... the whole "talking to people about your shoes" thing. I have found this much less irritating with the sandals than the VFFs. Now, granted, people are a lot more used to folks running in VFFs these days than sandals, so if someone catches you running in sandals they'll probably want to talk about it. For casual wear, though, sandals are extremely common. If you aren't wearing shorts, most people won't even notice them, even if you've tied them with a toga- or spartacus-style looking knot. Even if they do notice, they aren't generally as creeped out as they are by the five fingers. I have even been told that they are stylish. (I do not believe these people. No man wearing sandals is stylish)

I've started trying to move towards running totally barefoot lately, so my huaraches will probably (hopefully) see less and less use for that. I love them as casual sandals, though - I will probably keep on wearing them until I get distracted by some other shiny object at some point in the future.
posted by billjings at 7:39 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Vibram Bikilas worked pretty good for me. My feet are sore but that's better than my knees being sore.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:01 PM on November 2, 2011

While I'm asking barefoot-shoe questions, what are some good shoes that can pass for business-casual?
posted by box at 6:40 PM on November 2 [+] [!

I just bought a pair of Vivobarefoot Ras and they're great! They come in brown or black and look somewhere between Rockports and moccasins.
posted by mdaugherty82 at 8:24 PM on November 2, 2011

As a former 100-mile-per-week competitive track runner I used to put a lot of miles in on very hard tracks in spikes that had zero cushioning. Running on the balls of your feet is the only option. We didn't call it 'minimalist' running. We just called it running. I ran lots of training runs in racing flats that weighed 6 ounces. None of it mattered. I didn't ever have an injury that was caused by shoes. Of course, I weighed 138 pounds at 5'10".

People think too much about this stuff. Just run. Run in what feels good. If you haven't ever run much it's gonna hurt for a while.

I still train in light trainers. I don't understand why people would want to wear big heavy things on their feet. But, most people are fat and unfit and would hurt themselves running no matter what they're wearing. It takes time to develop a style that works for you when you've spent most of your life watching TV and driving a car and not thinking the slightest about how one should move.

Running is a sport that needs no gear. It drives me up the wall that gear is such a discussion. Wear what you have. Put one foot in front of the other for a while. Then do it again when you want to. At some point go faster. Eat more breakfast it you need to. You don't need to eat special things, wear special things, carry enough water to drown a village, stretch, do yoga, wear spandex, or read bullshit books. Just run. You'll figure it out.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:53 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

People think too much about this stuff. Just run. Run in what feels good.

Yeah, I did that. Now I've got plantar fasciitis. That's why I'm reading this thread with the expression a cat has looking at a catnip mouse.
posted by lumpenprole at 10:26 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

I read born to run a few years ago while going through a bout of plantar fasciitis brought on by rigid soccer cleats. the track where i like to run surrounds a grass field that is kept pretty clean and free of garbage, so i started running barefoot there. I had had the PF for 4 months and no shit it was gone in ten days (ran 3 times per week back then, 3 miles per outing).
posted by OHenryPacey at 11:02 PM on November 2, 2011

I run in VFF Bikilas, and I previously ran in KSOs. I now hike in those KSOs (when not too wet) and it is fine. If/when I need to start thinking about putting on ice crampons or the like I will be wearing my Scarpas. If you are looking for information on minimalist shoes for hiking or everyday wear, check out the Toe Salad website.

People think too much about this stuff. Just run. Run in what feels good.

Please. That's great if you have been running for ages, or have unlimited funds to just keep buying different shoes until you find the 'right' ones. But if you don't really know, are you meant to just buy a pair of shoes because they look nice or are super cheap, and then trash your body? Or how about minimalist running shoes that actually feel great (or for me did anyway) after I got used to them (eased myself into wearing them over a period of months.) If I had just put them on and gone with the 'run in what feels good' idea, I never would have worn them again.
posted by Megami at 2:33 AM on November 3, 2011

While I'm asking barefoot-shoe questions, what are some good shoes that can pass for business-casual?

The Vivobarefoot Ra.
posted by atrazine at 2:37 AM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Please. That's great if you have been running for ages, or have unlimited funds to just keep buying different shoes until you find the 'right' ones. But if you don't really know, are you meant to just buy a pair of shoes because they look nice or are super cheap, and then trash your body? Or how about minimalist running shoes that actually feel great (or for me did anyway) after I got used to them (eased myself into wearing them over a period of months.) If I had just put them on and gone with the 'run in what feels good' idea, I never would have worn them again.

So you want someone on a forum to tell you what shoes to wear? What fad shoes to wear? Please. We can't do that. You need to figure that out on your own.
posted by jimmythefish at 7:13 AM on November 3, 2011

Have you guys heard of moccasins? Made out of leather...lace on to the feet...been around for thousands of years...don't have separate toes. I can't really recommend any particular brand or model or anything, but they seem like they'd be perfect as a "minimalist shoe".
posted by nTeleKy at 9:43 AM on November 3, 2011

I was a non-runner up until May of this year. I'd try running in normal running shoes, but my knees would be in such excruciating pain that I wouldn't be able to do it for more than a week or two.

Then this May I bought some VFF Bikilas and got a Couch to 5k app for my phone. And ran in the grass along the sidewalk around my neighborhood. Took it slow.

September I ran my first 5k ever. No more knee pain. Some sexy callouses forming on my feet. I've advanced to running on the sidewalk again, now, but in VFFs with a forefoot strike instead of a heel strike. If, by chance, I decided to wear my old runners, I've found that even in those, I tend to do the forefoot strike now. But I don't wear those very often.

I'm actually thinking of getting some huaraches in the future.

My big fear now is that winter is approaching quickly. Sidewalks get icy. Snow gets tall. Where do I run? And with what? Below freezing temps in snow and ice, I'm not sure where to go from here and don't want to lose my momentum.

Monday night, I ran 4 miles. Felt fantastic! My calves still feel a little tight now and then, but no pain anywhere else. That's six months of running every week, multiple times a week. I've never done this before. :)
posted by jillithd at 11:39 AM on November 3, 2011

I was as skeptical of the Vibrams as anyone when I first saw them. A guy I was running with had been in them for about two years at that point and he raved about them, so I gave them a shot. I cut about a minute off my mile time in less than a month, my calves felt like I'd been beaten with a spiked bat, and then I pushed it too far too fast and hurt my left foot - no break, probably a tendon issue, but it stopped me cold for about two months (mentioned it upthread but had been in a hurry so details now). But the injury was probably a good thing. I was working towards a duathlon at the time so my bike kept my cardio levels up, and I was pain-free but back in my Asics for a few months after.

A good thing though, because it made me slow down, and I was very cautious getting back into the Vibrams. I didn't give up on them, because running barefoot felt so good. But I was way, way more aware of any little twinge or pain in my feet, and I kept the mileage low for the last summer. I bought a new pair, the Bikala lace-ups, early in the summer and have been really, really happy with them. I tried going back to the KSOs but they just feel wrong now - the instep is too scratchy, like it will give me blisters within a few minutes, and I don't like the way the uppers feel after wearing the Bikalas. Who knows, maybe that pair is just shot, but I'm sticking with the new ones for now. I liked them so much I started wearing them everywhere - trips to the store, on weekends, whatever. I think the constant walking in them really helped me get my feet happy with the shoes. I suggest anyone who wants to try them should start by walking, not running. For at least a month or so. Then ease into them.

As a side note, I have one toe that I jammed years ago and it has always bugged me in flat shoes. It never sits right; walking barefoot on a hard surface irritates it right at the ball of the foot, underneath that one toe. I realized today that I have been wearing flat shoes for work for several weeks now and I can't remember the last time my toe bugged me. I think running in the Vibrams might finally have remodeled the bone there enough to make a difference.
posted by caution live frogs at 12:11 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Nthing the VivoBarefoot series of shoes; they are similar to the Vibrams but the protective toe shell is, for me, much easier to deal with than the toe-glove variety. I often hurt my toes, and they're wonderful.

My father runs in the countryside with them; my husband stands in them all day at museum events; and I do Zumba, jog, and play Dance Central in mine. Sorry no link as I'm on my BlackBerry in a work meeting.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 1:24 PM on November 3, 2011

Yeah, McDougal needs to be taken with a bunch of salt, because he's really personally enthusiastic about this topic and it leads him away from anything remotely resembling journalism. I mean, I liked Born to Run just fine, but it didn't strike me as having any but the most glancing resemblance to scientific fact or verifiable truth.
posted by restless_nomad at 3:47 PM on November 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

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