Hey, Clown Shoes! A Year With FiveFinger KSO’s

Hey, Clown Shoes!  A Year With FiveFinger KSO’s


I’ve had my Vibram FiveFingers KSO now for just over a year.  I know a lot of you had questions about them, such as were they a fad, are they any good, and don’t you feel silly in them.

If anything, my views on them are even stronger than when I first got them.  Look down at your bare feet.  Have a walk around.

Now put your shoes on and look again.  It’s not right, is it?  Have a walk around and feel how different it was to when you were barefoot.

I got into a heated discussion on a forum on the latest super-duper expensive running shoes, and all the scientific studies about which the best conventional footwear were presented.

In short, it’s all crap.  The simple fact is that we did not evolve to wear shoes.  Shoes were bodged around our feet to protect them, and because technology wasn’t very advanced for cavemen, shoes were designed without toes or the ability to allow for natural movement of the foot.

There is no debating this fact – this is nature and evolution and the most basic human physiology.  Shoes are as wrong for feet as fingerless mittens are for hands.

From that little rant you may gather that I don’t think of the FiveFingers as a fad or trend.


I don’t wear them all the time, but I absolutely LOVE putting them on if I’m doing any walking up hills and stuff.  They’re not so great for concrete, but for anything off the beaten path I want to be wearing them.  I’m sure my legs have adjusted, but I still feel some pain after a long trek in my calves.

I’ve put a fair few miles on them now, and they’re still absolutely perfect.  I’ve worn them in forests, high up in the hills, on beaches, and even got a lot of very funny looks wandering around Bulgaria in them!

Sand, mud, soft grass and gravel are all like getting a foot massage – plus you can appreciate the temperature changes between cold marshland mud and scorching hot sandy beaches.  It is awesome, and a truly unique experience of what we should all experience every day of our lives – if shoes were what they should have been, or we stayed barefoot!

Are they worth the money?  It’s a lot… but I’d have to say yes!  You do have to wash them regularly to stop them stinking – so I bung them in the washing machine and have seen no adverse effects of this at all apart from my fiancée moaning.  Nothing has pierced or cut the soles so far (although a huge thorn had gone through at an angle the other day), and I haven’t had any Alan Partridge moments of piercing my foot on a spike.

And the big question – Do I feel silly?

It’s very rare that anyone openly points at them and laughs (only in a shop in Bulgaria, so far!), but you do hear hushed comments and giggling occasionally.  To wear them you have to be aware that they ARE different, and so people will react to that, but I don’t actually feel silly now.

I’m more worried that if I’m wearing them in the high street or a pub that people will think I’ve just bought them to show off, or for the hype.

I haven’t.  I bought them because they made sense, and I thought they might be great – and they haven’t disappointed.


Lickey Woods? Lick My FiveFingers!

Lickey Woods?  Lick My FiveFingers!

I was a bit disappointed to see it had rained overnight, but bravely slipped on my Vibram FiveFinger KSO’s and headed off to the Lickey Woods (near Lickey End *sniggers*) to give them a proper first try out.

One thing I noticed about them straight away is that having a much thinner sole than normal shoes and trainers, my jeans were too long for them!  They drag on the floor, and you can feel when you’re treading on them through the soles, too!  I could have worn shorts, but decided against it as it’s still only March here and in single-degrees-celsius, and more importantly you may have noticed from other pics my legs are so white it’s often been suggesting that it was the glare from them that sent Stevie Wonder blind.  Before I was born.

After having to nip into a local supermarket against my will I was surprised not to have people pointing at me and laughing.  I bought the black pair not because I want to look like a Ninja, nor did I buy them because I like the idea of wearing chopped-off gorillas feet over my own – but in the hope that they were a bit less noticeable.  It seems to have worked.

Which brings me to something else I was looking forward to trying:  Driving.

If you’ve ever tried driving a car in socks or barefoot, you’ll know that it -ing hurts.  I knew I was taking this chance with the FiveFingers, but to balance that was the knowledge that proper racing car footwear features very thin soles for extra feel.  Luckily, it seems the Vibrams have far more in common with the latter, and there was no sign of any discomfort at all on a short journey.  In fact I was amazed at the feel through them!  They’ve got to be the ultimate shoes for a racing driver – and it would make the whole skill of ‘Heel-and-toe’ much more literal!  Do they make a fireproof version?  If not, they’re missing a market!

It’s a shame they don’t also make a motorcycle boot version, because they’d feel brilliant, too.  I suppose from a crash protection point of view the toes wouldn’t be a great idea, though, and the strain on your left toe from the gear shift could become extremely uncomfortable…

I only walked around the Lickey Woods rather than running, but that was enough to tell me a lot of what to expect.

As I suspected before, big stones HURT.  If you get one in the arch of your foot in the middle next to the ball of your foot you know about it, and it would be a crippler if you were slamming your feet down at a run.  They’re not as bad as I thought they would be, though.

Loose gravel is like getting a foot massage, grass just feels sublime, and mud like walking on a waterbed!

Certainly, the softer ground is better, but I’m sure I’ll soon learn to watch more carefully where I put my feet to avoid the painful bits, and I’m sure my feet will also adapt and harden to it.

The extra stability really comes through on uneven ground, and where trainers would have thrown my balance off, my feet were able to fluidly mould to the ground just the way our feet evolved to do.  If you ever want a practical demonstration of the principles of Ninjitsu – you won’t find a much better example of it than here.  I wonder if Masaaki Hatsumi wears these?  I wonder if he endorses their use in Ninjutsu practise?

Vibram say in their literature that you should only wear FiveFingers for an hour or two at a time until your body adjusts to them.  On this outing I found my calves were starting to ache quite a lot, so I’m assuming this is related?

I have a problem when I run in trainers where I get muscle pump on the front of my lower legs, meaning although the rest of my body is still willing, I can hardly lift my foot anymore to take a step.  I’m hoping the FiveFingers will help relieve this.

I plan on wearing them to the gym tomorrow, where I should find out…

Vibram FiveFingers – New Feet For My Feet!

Vibram FiveFingers – New Feet For My Feet!


I laughed when I first saw these freaky things!

I was looking for new trainers to inspire me back into some form of fitness training, and after the ‘posture-shaping’ trainers stumbled onto the Vibram FiveFingers website.

But as curiosity got the better of me, and as I read on, they started to make more and more sense.

Think about it:  Everybody loves the barefoot experience.  A few years back I even went barefoot in the snow, just to see what it was like.  Many times as a kid I’d take to the streets barefoot, only to be hobbled by a stray stone.

I mean, barefoot is natural, and we’ve evolved to have amazing feet which can deal with all kinds of terrain, boost our balance…. and then some idiot goes and designs shoes with a big flat sole that totally boxes our toes in and ruins all that evolution.  Even the Ninja recognised this and have a split so that your toes are split into two sections.

Go and wear mittens on your hands and see how your day goes without the use of your fingers.

Then factor in all the highly developed muscles and tendons which are made redundant by ‘normal’ shoes, and ask yourself what REALLY makes sense?

A few years back, Mister Smalls (a fellow MySpace blogger) bought a pair for himself, and that was really the final straw for me – I neeeeeded some!

Today I (finally) opened the box to find what looks like the unfortunate remains of a gorilla.

‘Slipping’ them on doesn’t really happen – it’s more a case of making sure all your toes go in their separate spaces (a toe-spreader would help here!) but then a very effective and simple tug on the velcro fastener adjusts the fit around the heel and over the bridge of your foot.

I’d heard that the FiveFingers seem very big, so getting them fitted properly is by far the best plan, although there are fitting videos available online to watch before you buy.  Unfortunately, of the few rare places with these on their shelves, nobody had anywhere near my size (UK 9/EU 43’s are like gold dust!) so I just had to buy and hope they fitted when they arrive.

They still seem a bit long in the toes, but then unless your toes are the exact length the shoes are moulded for there will always be a few too loose or tight.  And with full toe movement and socks, these seem just about right for me.  Oh, and having sat here wearing them indoors for a few hours, those socks may be a good investment – after my toes being snuggled next to each other in a big clump all my life, now they’re separated they are COLD!

Unsurprisingly, considering your feet have evolved to shape and re-form for maximum adhesion, they seem to have awesome levels of grip over trainers simply from the extra movement keeping a bigger contact patch with the ground.

The soles are sturdy but do seem thin.  Small chunks of gravel should be no problem – a big sharp rock at the peak of the Malvern Hills could hurt.  I’ll just have to test them, and even if it does hurt I’m sure it’s possible to get used to it once your feet harden up.  I never wear slippers and am barefoot or just in socks whenever possible, so I’m hoping I fare better than most people with this…

Because of the grip and extra movement, they seem excellent for martial arts!  It really is a lot like wearing nothing, and that especially comes over when performing kicks.

I’m looking forward to seeing what driving is like in these – I will update this after that experience, and also my next time at the gym…