Are Barefoot Shoes a Better Alternative?

August 26, 2010 :: Posted by - admin :: Category - News
Vibram, an Italian company that has made soles for high-end hiking boots for 75 years, has created a shoe that mimics the experience of going barefoot while protecting the wearer from dirt and abrasions. They started making Fliri’s five-toed shoes in 2006, dubbing the brand Vibram FiveFingers. FiveFingers are available in several styles and colors which are vegan friendly.

They come in a variety of designs to cover the wide range of activities you would rather do barefoot — everything from fitness training and yoga, to running and trekking, to kayaking and sailing. In 2007, Time magazine named the shoe one of the year’s best health inventions. This year, a study by Harvard evolutionary biologists published in the journal Nature concluding that barefoot runners land on the balls of their feet, rather than on their heels,

Vibram SKO
Vibram Flow

ultimately creating less joint stress and reducing injuries. Customers are hooked. The shoes sell for $75 to $125, and have started showing up on runners at elite events such as the Boston Marathon. Revenue for FiveFingers shoes jumped to $11 million last year, up from $430,000 in 2006.

Podiatrists caution that FiveFingers aren’t for everyone. People who don’t normally run, who are obese, or who have serious foot problems or diabetes should be especially cautious. There are also trace amounts of latex used in manufacturing, so latex allergic / sensitive consumers should steer clear.

Nike already has a line out, the Nike Free 5.0, that are said to give the protection, cushioning and traction of a shoe, while it gives the feel and movement of barefoot running. By spring 2011, as many as six more competitors, including Merrell and New Balance, will enter the market with so-called "barefoot" shoes. The biggest threat to Vibram is counterfeiters. More than 200 fake Vibram websites selling branded knockoffs have appeared online. We would recommend that you only purchase from stores that they recognize as being authorized retailers.