Anybody seen those weird shoes with the toes?! On the subway, in the park, shopping in SOHO, in the restaurant, they are everywhere! This new craze in fitness footwear is growing exponentially. The real question is, are they practical, efficient, or just a fashion fad?
Vibram 5 Fingers were created to simulate a barefoot running or fitness experience. These shoes come in a variety of styles, all geared towards a different fitness activity. The Bikila model for instance is specifically for running. They have a built up arch to prevent pronation, strategically places traction for heel and forefoot striking as well as antimicrobial agents in the fabric to prevent odor from all the places you may be running. Research as shown that the act of barefoot physical activity is a natural way of movement and should be embraced.
On the other hand, medical research has found that with the aid of properly fit footwear, such as a stability running shoe, soccer cleats or even pointe shoe, one can enhance the effects of physical activity. Many have suggested that the Vibrams cause the increase of shin splints and back issues due to its inherent lack of support. One could argue that dancers dance barefoot or with a thin slipper and with proper training avoid injury. So it really boils down to your own personal decision. Take the risks, love the look or forgo the funny toes and stick to your trusty joggers. What do you think?