As some background I was once a very high mile runner with a number of marathons under my belt. As I got older the miles started to cause more pain on my knees and shins and I couldn’t just run through it like I used to. My doctor recommended I try these. I was a bit weary at first but after some exhaustive research I decided to take the plunge and I am glad I did. My knee and shin pains is gone. I have friends who have experienced the same relief of pain they had dealt with all their lives, knee, shin, and back pain.
Now this isn’t some magic shoe, but what the shoe does is helps us, as humans, run they way we are supposed to. The way we had run for tens of thousands of years. Keep in mind that footware of all kinds are relatively recent. Long before trainers came about we were running, barefoot or in flimsy sandals and doing just fine. What these shoes do, and similar minimalist shoes like them from New Balance, Merrell and Reebox, is help the body run in a more natural manner. The heal strike that is so common today has come about as we added thicker and thicker cushioning to our shoes. When barefoot it is not natural to strike the ground with your entire weight on the heel of your foot. A good example of natural running is to go watch kids run barefoot, before they are taught the ‘correct’ way to run they run the natural way. Which is to land more gently on the forward part of your foot and role the foot front to back, instead of hammering your heel into the ground.
With that in mind wearing these shoes takes some time to retrain the foot so start building up slowly. I found that just having my toes separated felt very odd but after a few days of wearing them around the house I had gotten used to it. Now I am running some of the fastest laps of my life with this ‘new’ type of shoes and a ‘new’ type of running. There is a lot of good information available online about barefoot running, which you are essentially doing with these types of shoes. Youtube also has a wealth of information. These shoes have turned what used to be a painful experience back into the joy of running I had been missing. I’ve already recommended them to a number of my fellow runners with wonderful results.
I want to include a few words of caution though. The five finger shoes aren’t for everyone, some people will have toes that are longer and will not be able to fit comfortably in the toe pockets. Not to worry though, Merrill and several other makers now offer similar shoes without the toe pockets for people who need them, or just find the toe pockets too strange. Also you don’t have a large robust sole to offer protection so kicking a rock or the like during a run is a painful experience. I’ve also found that during longer runs socks like the Innijin socks help prevent heat build up and blisters.