Slowly making its way into the general consciousness is the presence of a new kind of shoe. Rather than taking the solid-sole approach that is typically seen around town, the new “toe shoe” is a craze that just might make more sense.
Consider the human foot. This is a machine specifically built to carry human beings from once place to another, carefully perfected over billions of years. Shoes, on the other hand, are a relatively new technology that is so pervasive that any change in the basic form seems remarkable.
Vibram’s Five Fingers challenge that norm with style. Though the site openly proclaims that they aren’t the only shoe you’ll ever need, a lot of barefoot runners point to Vibram’s 2006 shoe as the go-to option.
The benefit is in the details. Most of the muscles in the foot are–rationally–attached to the toes. When those toes are allowed to flex freely, the stress on a foots muscles is lessened allowing for more comfortable, long-lasting trail running.
The downside rests with the fact that people have been wearing standard shoes for so long that their feet are not fully equipped to deal with a new kind of running.
As with all things, moderation is key when making the switch to “toe shoes.” Vibram’s site offers a wide range of resources to determine sizes and usefulness of shoes by a person-to-person basis, as do many other manufacturers of the increasingly less unique sole design. For more information, check out their home page.