Beginners Guide to Five Fingers

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Beginners Guide to Five Fingers Powered By Docstoc
					the birthdayshoes.com [beginner’s guide] to

Vibram FiveFingers
a free e-book from birthdayshoes.com ̶ the unofficial fan site for VFFs
by Justin Owings

this beginner’s guide is intended to provide an overview of VFFs and help assist
beginners with deciding which pair of VFFs is right for them. The contents of this
book are:
         what are fivefingers? An overview.
         which style should I get?
         how do I determine my size?
         where can I get them?
         okay, I’ve got them: now what?
         additional resources

Disclaimer: This guide is intended for infotainment purposes only. BirthdayShoes.com is not owned,
operated, or otherwise affiliated with Vibram® or the FiveFingers® brand. The advice in this guide is not
intended to be construed as medical advice. As always, you’re ultimately responsible for your own actions!
    What are they? An overview.
    The Basics:
    Vibram FiveFingers, or VFFs for short (and
    also known as simply Vibrams), are little
    more than five-toed foot gloves for your
    feet. VFFs have a thin rubber sole making
    VFFs “floppy” and lacking a rigid structure.
    Marketed as the “barefoot alternative,”
    FiveFingers let your feet be feet. They
    provide no arch support and effectively no
    cushioning. Variations in the ground can
    be felt through their thin rubber soles,
    encouraging the wearer to tread lightly.

    Background:

    VFFs are made by an Italian-based rubber sole company called Vibram and take
    their unusual name from the fact that the Italian word for toes is the same as the
    word for fingers. Thus, in Italian FiveFingers are FiveToes!



2                                                                                        ©2010 by birthdayshoes.com
    What are they? An overview (cont.)
    Background (continued):

    VFFs were originally invented by Robert Fliri and were first marketed as boat shoes
    back in early 2006 by Vibram (Vibram is pronounced “Vee brum”). As awareness of
    VFFs grew, they began being used by barefoot runners such as “Barefoot Ted”
    McDonald (barefootted.com), who wore them to run the Boston Marathon in April
    2006.
    Since then TIME Magazine named VFFs one of the Best Inventions of 2007. The 2009
    release of Christopher McDougall’s best-selling book Born to Run also prominently
    featured both the barefoot running movement and VFFs via Barefoot Ted.
    Furthermore, research by Dan Lieberman, Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology at
    Harvard University, was released in early 2010 that raises new questions regarding
    whether or not the prevailing sports shoe design, featuring an elevated heel and thickly
    cushioned soles, does much if anything to reduce impact or prevent injury. In fact,
    Lieberman’s research suggests that modern shoes may force us to “heel strike” rather
    than “forefoot strike” as we would when barefoot, and this shift results in greater
    impact to the runner (see link to Lieberman research on the additional resources page).
    You can read more about the history of Vibram Five Fingers here.
    Barefoot or VFF running is important enough for a bit further discussion.

3                                                                                              ©2010 by birthdayshoes.com
    What are they? An overview (cont.)
                The human foot is a masterpiece of
                     engineering and a work of art.
                                             - Leonardo da Vinci
             A bit on feet and the barefoot running or minimalist
             footwear movement:
             A growing number of runners are giving up on modern running
             shoes in favor of either running completely barefoot or in
             minimalist footwear such as FiveFingers.
             In addition to skepticism regarding the benefits associated with
             more thickly-cushioned running shoes, many are asserting that
             the human foot was molded by evolution over countless
             millennia to allow for walking, sprinting, and running over varied
             terrain completely barefoot and without injury. Assuming this is
             true, then human beings are perfectly capable of being
             incredibly active while being barefoot or close-to-barefoot as
             with VFFs.

4                                                                                 ©2010 by birthdayshoes.com
    What are they? An overview (cont.)
    A bit on feet and the barefoot running or minimalist footwear
    movement (continued):
    Many runners who’ve wrestled with chronic injuries have made the
    switch from running in their cushioned sports shoes to running
    barefoot or in VFFs and seen their injuries reduced or eliminated
    (Read Dave’s story, for example). Indeed, it seems modern running
    shoes force us to heel-strike rather than forefoot-strike. Natural
    running is pain-free (Something we innately knew this as kids!).
    VFFs have been revolutionizing the footwear industry by taking the
    prevailing footwear paradigm and turning it on its head: rather than
    more padding, more “stability control,” and springier heels, in the
    case of our feet, the adage holds true: less is more. Our feet perform
    best in their natural form: barefoot.
                         Since they have only a thin layer of rubber for a sole, independent
                         toe pockets, which allow your toes to splay and grasp the ground,
                         and lack a rigid structure (So your foot can bend and flex as if it
                         were barefoot), Five Fingers mimic the barefoot condition ̶ with
                         just a bit of protection.
    Vibram Five Fingers let your feet do what they were “designed” to do.
    VFFs free your feet!

5                                                                                              ©2010 by birthdayshoes.com
    Which style should I get?
    It depends. First, you should realize that there are now ten different models of VFFs
    out in the U.S., three of which are gender-specific (I’ll touch more on what this means
    in the sizing section). Two additional models are out in Europe, and another model or
    three are slated to arrive in the coming months (Latest news on models here!). If
    you’re starting to lose track, then take solace: for your first pair of VFFs, there are
    really only three models worth considering, the Sprint, Classic, and KSO:




6                                                                                             ©2010 by birthdayshoes.com
    Which style should I get? (cont.)
    The FiveFingers Classic: The VFF Classic is
    an open-topped model that has an elastic band that
    runs the rim of the top and can be cinched behind
    a heel tab.
    The Classic is the most basic VFF model available,
    and it is also the cheapest retailing at $75. The
    open-topped design makes it also the easiest to put
    your foot into. This ease of entry and open-aired
    feel makes the Classic the everyday champion of the FiveFingers line-up. It’s the
    flip-flop of VFFs. Even still, it can be used for many types of active wear.

    Pros: Ease of entry, comfort, and price point make the Classic a solid candidate
    for first VFF. The Classic is great for everyday wear not unlike your favorite pair of
    sandals. That said, the Classic is both comfortable and capable of use for running,
    weight lifting, and random, spontaneous activities (like climbing a random tree!).

    Cons: You must cinch the elastic band to “lock on” the Classic for active wear (e.g.
    sprinting, running) which can be uncomfortable under sustained use. For casual
    wear, no tightening is necessary making Classics quite comfy though there may be
    a small break-in period (Push through it!). Though the Classic can be used for
    “jerky” activities, the open-topped design will make the heel more likely to pop off.

7                                                                                            ©2010 by birthdayshoes.com
    Which style should I get? (cont.)
    RECOMMENDATION: Get the Classic if you want a VFF for everyday use and the
    occasional active use. From a total time-spent wearing perspective, I wear my
    Classics more than any other model (More on the Classic model here!).




     Above are things people are doing in VFF Classics. Click any image to read more.

8                                                                                       ©2010 by birthdayshoes.com
    Which style should I get? (cont.)
    The FiveFingers KSO: The VFF KSO, which is
    an acronym for “Keep Stuff Out,” is the best-selling
    VFF available. The KSO is covered on top with thin
    mesh and uses a Velcro hook-and-loop strap to lock
    the KSO onto your foot.
    The KSO can take anything you throw at it: sprints
    or water wear, running marathons, hiking, or
    climbing a random tree, the KSO does it all.
    Pros: Covered upper keeps debris out of the VFF while also lending the KSO a
    more “normal” aesthetic. Lock-on velcro strapping method keeps the KSO on your
    foot no matter what the application. KSO provides an attached feeling like the
    Sprint but is easier to fit and generally more comfortable. Finally, for whatever
    reason, VFF fans tend to wear socks with the KSOs more than with the other two
    models (though socks are not necessary for any model and most prefer sock-less).

    Cons: Covered top can make the KSO a bit more difficult to put on. KSO has 2mm
    of EVA (foam) which will reduce barefoot feel but offer a tiny bit more padding
    compared to Classic or Sprint. The KSO retails at $85, making it the most expensive
    of the general-purpose VFFs. Also, due to the closed top design, individuals with
    high-insteps may find the KSOs harder to fit on the top of the foot.

9                                                                                         ©2010 by birthdayshoes.com
 Which style should I get? (cont.)
 RECOMMENDATION: Get the KSO if you want the VFF that “does it all” and don’t
 mind the extra fabric on top or the additional effort of putting them on. You can read
 more on the KSO here (reviews, mods, more!).




     Above are things people are doing in VFF KSOs. Click any image to read more.

10                                                                                        ©2010 by birthdayshoes.com
 Which style should I get? (cont.)
 The FiveFingers Sprint: The VFF Sprint is an
 open-topped model that has three Velcro straps: one
 over the top of your instep, and two on either side of
 your heel.
 Of the three general-purpose models, thanks to the
 ample use of straps, the Sprint is simultaneously the
 hardest to fit “just right” and also the most “locked
 on” once you get the straps properly dialed in.
 Pros: With such a locked on feel, the Sprint is great for not only sprinting, but also
 any intense activity. It can be used in activities involving moving water, general
 running, and for just about any form of play you can imagine. Also, the Sprint retails
 at $80, so if you want an active-wear VFF, you can get the Sprint for five bucks
 cheaper than the KSO. Even better, the Sprint lacks the 2mm of EVA foam between
 the Vibram sole and the insole that the KSO has, giving it the same ground feel as
 with the Classic but with a more functional, locked-on feel. The Sprint can also be
 worn with the straps “loose” to maximize comfort for casual wear (no dialing in
 necessary).
 Cons: It can take a lot of of wrangling to get the Sprint fit dialed in properly. Also,
 the heel can sometimes be irritating. Also, the open-top can invite in dust, sand, and
 debris.

11                                                                                         ©2010 by birthdayshoes.com
 Which style should I get? (cont.)
 RECOMMENDATION: Get the Sprint if you’re willing to work with the straps to get
 the right fit and/or want an open-top active-use VFF with a bit more ground feel
 that’s also five bucks cheaper than the KSO! Read more on the Sprint here.




     Above are things people are doing in VFF Sprints. Click any image to read more.

12                                                                                     ©2010 by birthdayshoes.com
 Which style should I get? (concluded)
 I know what you’re thinking: but what about the other models?
 For sake of completeness (and so you are “in the know”), other VFFs available are the
 ultra-minimalist, indoor-only Moc and Performa, the neoprene-upper Flow, and the
 trail-specific, kangaroo leather-upper Five Fingers KSO Trek or the Fall 2010 Trek Sport.
 A running-specific version called the Five Fingers Bikila is also making waves in the
 community. If you want to learn more about these models, just take a spin around
 birthdayshoes.com. The reason I do not recommend consideration of any of these
 models for your first pair of VFFs is:
      • Expense. The cheapest of these niche-specific models is the Flow, which retails at $90
      (U.S. prices). The Moc and Performa retail at $110 and the KSO Trek at $125. The Bikila and
      Trek Sport retail at $100.

      • Function / Application. Though each of these models can be a great choice, they all
      serve more specific needs. Granted, if you are buying Vibram Five Fingers specifically to run,
      you might give consideration to the Bikila, but you can cut your teeth on natural running just
      fine in a pair of KSOs, Classics, or Sprints! The Moc and Performa are indoor-only, catering to
      martial arts, yoga, or Pilates enthusiasts. Also, the Bikila, KSO Trek and Trek Sport have a
      thicker sole, which means you’ll lose some barefoot-sensation as compared to other models.


 My advice: get started with a pair of Classics, Sprints, or KSOs, and then pick
 up the more specific models later. Most VFFers end up having a few pairs!

13                                                                                                      ©2010 by birthdayshoes.com
 How do I determine my size?
 Figuring out your size in FiveFingers is perhaps the most difficult part of the buying
 experience; however, perseverance pays off!
 VFF sizes do not correspond to standard or European shoe size at any
 predictable conversion ratio! Rather, VFF size requires taking a measurement of
 your foot from heel to longest toe (usually big toe, but sometimes your second toe) for
 both feet and then matching that length to both the model and gender on Vibram’s
 chart (see the next page).
 Even though your best bet for figuring out size requires finding a retailer and trying on
 VFFs until you find the pair that fits, it can be helpful to have a starting point and to
 familiarize yourself with the sizing system in advance (shoe store employees aren’t
 always in the know on how to size VFFs).
 It’s easy enough to figure out your size by following Vibram's measurement instructions
 (measured in inches):
 1.   Stand with your heels flush against a flat vertical wall.
 2.   Slide a ruler under each foot and measure the distance from the wall to the tip of the longest
      toe.
 3.   Take the longer of the two foot measurements.
 4.   If the foot length varies more than 1/6 in. it will be difficult to get a precise fit for both feet.
 5.   If your second toe is more than 1/6 in. longer than your big toe it may be difficult to get a
      precise fit.

14                                                                                                           ©2010 by birthdayshoes.com
 How do I determine my size? (cont.)




     Source: Sizing chart as seen at VibramFiveFingers.com

15                                                           ©2010 by birthdayshoes.com
 Below are some tips on sizing and fit:
 • Your toes should not be ramming up against the ends of the toe pockets.
 They should be “right behind” the end of the toe pocket. This mainly applies to your
 big toes as smaller toes may have excess room in the toe pockets (this is okay!).
 • Different models will feel different on your feet. Also, some have noted
 different color combinations within the same model (particularly with KSOs) fit
 differently. This can cause problems if you have high insteps (the instep is the top part
 of your foot).
 • KSOs size down one from Classics and Sprints.
 • Sizes are different across genders for the same or similar foot length!
 • Men can wear women’s VFFs and vice versa, but women’s tend to be a bit more
 narrow.
 • Foot width is not a problem! VFFs can stretch to accommodate most foot widths.
 • Generally you do not need to size up for socks!
 • If you’re in between sizes, you are likely better off sizing up.
 • When in doubt, try them on in person OR order your two closest sizes
 online and return the size that doesn’t fit (This is what I did on my first pair back
 in 2008).

16                                                                                           ©2010 by birthdayshoes.com
 Where can I get them?
 Vibram Five Fingers are in such demand that it can be quite difficult to find your
 preferred model and size in stock. That said, generally, there are two ways to buy
 VFFs:


 1. Buy local – You can search for a local retailer who carries VFFs by checking
    Vibram’s store locator. If you can’t go local or local doesn’t have’em in stock …

 2. Buy online – At Birthday Shoes we’ve got a list of the biggest online retailers of
    Vibram Five Fingers, as well as details on their typical purchase policies like free
    shipping. Go to the store!
 3. Watch out for fakes! A rash of counterfeit VFFs (knock-off, off-quality
    merchandise sold from China) have hit the market in the past few months! If you
    Google [Vibram Five Fingers], greater than 60% of the results will be
    fake online retailers! If you’d rather not deal with these fraudsters, avoid them
    entirely by sticking to 1. or 2. above.
 If you buy online, consider ordering the two closest sizes based on your measurements
 and returning the pair that doesn’t fit. Just be sure to check first to make sure the
 online retailer from whom you buy accepts returns (and know going into it that you’re
 going to lose money on shipping). This is actually how I got my first pair of Classics.


17                                                                                         ©2010 by birthdayshoes.com
 Okay I’ve got them: Now what?
 • Start wearing them to do things you’d normally do in regular shoes.
 • Be patient. You’ve been wearing heavily cushioned and or high-heeled shoes for so
 long that your feet, legs, and ankles have atrophied: just like if you’d been wearing a
 cast. It takes a lot longer than you think to acclimate to being actively
 barefoot! If you are sore, allow your muscles to adjust and recover.
 • Pay attention. This advice is two-fold. One, you’re going to be feeling whatever it
 is you step on. If you step on a pebble, you’ll notice it. If you step on soft grass, you’ll
 feel it’s plushness. Two, pay attention to your body. When walking, are you heel-
 striking? Does it hurt? Consider taking shorter strides. Rediscover what feels
 comfortable.
 • Again, take it slow! Remember: you’re trying to prevent injuries by freeing your
 feet. It takes time to rehabilitate to barefoot walking. Take comfort knowing that you
 first learned to move as a kid barefoot.
 • Be careful when you jump. If you’re accustomed to bounding about in cushioned
 shoes, then note that you can’t just land on your heels like you are used to. You’ve got
 to break your fall by using the suspension system in your foot, ankle, knees, and hips,
 all in conjunction.
 • Have fun! Enjoy the freedom of comfy feet and the ability to run and play
 effectively barefoot!


18                                                                                              ©2010 by birthdayshoes.com
 Now what? Running in VFFs.
 If you’re a runner, then there’s special advice you should keep in mind.
 These are just beginner’s tips.
 • Forefoot strike! Land on the ball of your foot and not on your heel. This is easy
 enough as heel-striking in VFFs hurts. Also, land with knees bent! This will help
 shorten your stride.
 • You need a faster cadence. Some put it on the order of 180 strides a minute. I
 find saying in my head “one one thousand, two one thousand, …” in my head helps me
 find the right cadence where each step matches to a syllable.
 • Take it slow. This can’t be emphasized enough! Be patient with your body.
 • Your “shod” mileage will not translate 1:1 into VFF mileage. Be aware that it
 should take you weeks to months to get your VFF running mileage up to where it was
 when shod.
 • When in doubt, take off your VFFs. Yes, even though Five Fingers give you a
 barefoot feel, the ultimate guide to correcting your running form are your totally naked
 feet. Go for a barefoot walk on asphalt and you’ll notice how gingerly you step. The
 same soft landing approach extends to your running. You want to land as softly as you
 can. Do not pound the ground!
 • Relax. You want your joints to compress for a smooth landing ̶ don’t be stiff!
 • Find a full write-up on transitioning to Vibram Five Fingers running here.

19                                                                                          ©2010 by birthdayshoes.com
 Additional Resources.
 • BirthdayShoes.com | forums | store ̶ covering everything about VFFs and a great
 deal regarding the growing minimalist footwear and barefoot movement.              At
 “bdayshoes” you’ll find plenty of VFF user stories, reviews, and news on upcoming VFF
 models.
 • Delve into running in Vibram Five Fingers here.

 • Daniel Lieberman’s Harvard web page on barefoot running or in minimalist shoes ̶ an
 epic resource on Lieberman’s research into impact forces under different gaits. Also
 includes training tips and advice on running barefoot or in minimalist shoes.
 • Interested in Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run, the book that has started a revival
 in the running world? Read my review! I also interviewed McDougall here.
 • There are a lot of guides and resources at Birthday Shoes. Check’em out
 here.

 Finally, let me tell you how you can stay on top of all things
 Five Fingers.




20                                                                                          ©2010 by birthdayshoes.com
 Finally: Stay on top of things VFF!
 • Subscribe by email to receive regular updates like
 stories and photos from Vibram users around the
 world, breaking news on upcoming models and new
 color combinations, plus mods, FAQs, reviews, and
 how-tos! Subscription is free!
 • You can also sign up for inventory alerts and        BirthdayShoes.com
 be notified when Vibrams are restocked!
                                                         tweet this guide!
 • Grabbed this PDF from a friend? Make sure you
 have the most updated version by simply re-
 downloading the guide here. This link will always
 point to the most updated version.
 • Questions or feedback on the guide? Contact me or
 hit me up on twitter @bdayshoes!                       Get a 5-
                                                        foot fan
                                                        sticker!
 If you have benefited from this guide, support
 BirthdayShoes by sharing it on your blog, facebook,
 or email! (Also, grab a fan sticker) Happy VFF’ing!


21                                                                           ©2010 by birthdayshoes.com
gh as heel-striking in VFFs hurts. Also, land with knee bent! This will help shorten
 your stride.                                                                                  birthdayshoes
                                                                                             [beginner’s guide]
 • You need a faster cadence. Some put it on the order of 180 strides a minute. I
 find saying in my head “one one thousand, two one thousand, …” in my head helps me                to   VFFs
 find the right cadence where each step matches to a syllable.
 • Take it slow. This can’t be emphasized enough! Be patient with your body.
 • Your “shod” mileage will not translate 1:1 into VFF mileage. Be aware that it
 should take you weeks to months to get your VFF running mileage up to where it was
 when shod.
 • When in doubt, take off your VFFs. Yes, even though Five Fingers give you a
 barefoot feel, the ultimate guide to correcting your running form are your totally naked
 feet.
 • Which means, be light on your feet. Go for a barefoot walk on asphalt and you’ll
 notice how gingerly you step. The same soft landing approach extends to your VFF
 running. You want to land as softly as you can. Do not pound the ground!
 • Relax. You want your joints to compress for a smooth landing ̶ don’t be stiff!

19                                                                                          ©2010 by birthdayshoes.com
 Additional Resources.
 • BirthdayShoes.com | store | wiki | forums | search ̶ covering everything about VFFs
 and a great deal regarding the growing minimalist footwear and barefoot movement.
 At “bdayshoes” you’ll find plenty of VFF user stories, reviews, and news on upcoming
 VFF models. You can find a full list of photo stories from real VFFers here. If you’re a
                                                                                               birthdayshoes
 review junkie, here’s a comprehensive listing of all VFF reviews ‘round the web.
                                                                                             [beginner’s guide]
 Vibram’s website is great for the basic product information as well as a FAQ, warranty,
 and detailed model specifications.                                                                to   VFFs
 • Check out these How to Run posts for introductions by running experts!

 • Daniel Lieberman’s Harvard web page on barefoot running or in minimalist shoes ̶ an
 epic resource on Lieberman’s research into impact forces under different gaits. Also
 includes training tips and advice on running barefoot or in minimalist shoes. Also see
 these basic running tips from assorted barefoot running gurus (like Barefoot Ken Bob).
 • Interested in Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run, the book that has started a revival
 in the running world? Read my review! I also interviewed McDougall.
 • Read the article You Walk Wrong from NY Magazine that got a lot of people into the
 movement. Also see this running list of press and articles on barefooting etc.

 Finally, let me tell you how you can stay on top of all things
 Five Fingers.
20                                                                                          ©2010 by birthdayshoes.com
 Finally: Staying on top of things!
 • Subscribe!       Subscribe to birthdayshoes to
 receive regular updates like stories and photos from
 VFF users around the world, breaking news on
 upcoming VFF models and new color combinations,                                birthdayshoes
 VFF    mods,     FAQs,    reviews,    and   how-tos!                         [beginner’s guide]
 Subscription is free!                                                              to   VFFs
                                                        BirthdayShoes.com
 • Grabbed this PDF from a friend? Make sure you
 have the most updated version by simply re-             tweet this guide!
 downloading the guide here. This link will always
 point to the most updated version.
 • Questions or feedback on the guide? Contact me
 or hit me up on twitter @bdayshoes!
                                                        Get a 5-
 If you have benefited from this guide, support         foot fan
 BirthdayShoes by sharing it on your blog,              sticker!
 facebook, or email! (Also, grab a fan sticker)
 Happy VFF’ing!

21                                                                           ©2010 by birthdayshoes.com

				
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Justin Owings Justin Owings CFO http://justinowings.com
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