STYLISHLY SIMIAN VIBRAMS
A stickler for economy of lines I found myself engrossed with the minimal and somehow simian design of Vibram Five Fingers, named one of the best inventions by TIME Magazine in 2007. I own a number of huge, bulky high-tops that I mainly use with shorts, skinny or drop-crotch jeans but admittedly, they’re more for looks than function. For comfort, I use minimalist Nike Free and Lunarlite @ the gym and yet these two pairs look nothing like Vibram’s FiveFive Fingers Classic (seemingly morphed ballet slippers) and the KSO (Keep Stuff Out) with their five-toe pouches.
I’ve read so much about the trend and benefits of bare-foot training for runners, and outdoors bare-footing from athletes, enthusiasts and physiologists on the net. It all sounded like sales talk to me, anyhow, after a call to Carlos Alvarez for directions to their outlet at Rockwell, I sought out to experience the truth about this barefoot phenomenon myself.
The very first thing you notice when you come across this footwear is its ultra-lightness at 5.7 ounces. The next is how it takes an effort to initially put them on. This difficulty comes naturally since I’m used to shoes that gather the toes instead of separating them. However, the instant that I fanned out my toes to get each in their individual pocket I realized how liberating this design modification was. These shoes enable you to spread out your toes and actually feel the terrain. Having practiced Taijiquan for a decade now, I know how good this was for my balance and for rooting myself to ground when I do the forms. It’s going barefoot but with protection.
I immediately tested my pair. Ato and Gigi Alvarez warned me that the shoes were designed to not give too much cushioning but they allow you to run off the arches of your feet so you bounce. Translated, it meant my calf muscles would initially get sore.
My calves were sore the next day though because I was adapting to the biomechanics of low heel minimally cushioned shoes; being a heel-striker, much of the impact that used to shoot into my knees and hips when I wore regular running shoes now gets absorbed by my calf muscles. The soreness was temporary; I felt my calves stronger after-- as if I have awakened muscles all over my feet that I haven’t been using. After three days, I I’ve adjusted to the freedom of barefoot walking and felt that the bottoms of my feet became more tough.
I like this rather simian looking footwear. They may not be the most stylish pair of shoes that I own but they have helped me in aligning my legs and my tendency to pronate. When I wear them, I feel more grounded and rooted. Think of barefooting as going organic for the shoe crowd.
I practice vegetarianism but not yet fully organic, I might never wear another pair of trainers again because I am already wearing my second pair to tatters. These black and white VIBRAM SPEED are all i wore running and trekking around Taiwan during my Temple Trip, and now, going and coming from the gym to work out.