Friday, March 18, 2011

What I'm wearing on my feet -- long


Skip to the bottom if you just want the VFF Review
I have been researching and researching barefoot shoe options (I know, sounds like an oxymoron to me too) after reading on Rachel Coleman's blog (of Signing Time)about Vibram Five Fingers and her explanation here of why she uses VFFs.

My Feet
I have bunions.
Not sure why.
They say it's genetic.
No one in my family has them.
They ask if I wear heels.
If you know me, you can stop laughing now.
This is what I usually wear in the winter - or have been for several years - and this is what I wear in the summer.
I love slip on shoes - why bother with laces?!?

But Rachel got me reading all this stuff about bare feet.
I learned that the muscles in your feet aren't used as they were designed to be used when shoes have soles and toes are forced to move as one unit. I learned that bunions could result in shoe wearing. I learned that a large toe box, minimal sole, and flexibility in shoes (should you choose to wear them at all) is essential to a healthy foot.

The kids
So we immediately bought the kids some soft star shoes - after much much research, of course. Ark Boy loved his to the point of growing out of them. Farm Girl was a harder sell but still wears hers on occasion. For now they've moved on to crocs (or back to crocs) which we both have mixed feelings on (large toe box, check; flexibility, check; thin sole ... ahem ... thin sole ..., hmmm, nope, definitely thick).

VFF love?
So after months of pondering I asked for VFFs for a recent birthday.
We made our way to City Sports on Thayer St in Providence, RI and I tried on the classic and the jaya and ended up going with the jaya. I wanted something simple (no laces!) and minimal (so the jaya seemed a bit much at first). In the end I thought the jaya would distract people less as it provides more foot coverage.
I was wrong on that count. Everywhere I go people ask about these shoes.
Thus the review:
Do they feel like toe socks?
No. I think the bits that go between your toes are not as deep? Maybe that's why. There are options out there (like these and these) that are flexible "barefoot" shoes but they omit the toe division. I wanted my toes forced apart to help remedy the bunion situation.
Are you a runner?
hah! Ahem. Sorry. I have been running almost every night since purchasing the shoes. When I say running, I mean running. Hard. For the length of six houses. I'm working up to going further.
Are your feet warm in those? (We've had snow - snow! - recently)
No. It's like you're barefoot. When we walk through sludgy mud, I feel sludgy mud eek through my shoes. When it's cold mud, I feel the cold sludge. It's not a bad feeling, just a cold feeling. It's interesting to be so much more in touch with your surroundings.
What does the ground feel like?
It's interesting because I can tell when I'm walking on sand (the playground) or grass or pavement. It's interesting.
Are they hard to put on?
At first. It took several frustrating days of having to sit down and get each toe in its place. Remember? I avoid laces and other slow-you-down time fastenings on shoes. This was frustrating. Now, a week and a half later, they usually slip right on.
Last thoughts:
It's like learning to experience the world again. I notice cracks in pavement more, driving "barefoot" is super interesting because it's often just a few toes on the pedals (this is safe, I swear), it's all fun.
Definitely not walk-in-the-snow kind of shoes (although some barefooters walk in any weather - barefoot, literally) and I'm curious how my love-my-flipflop-freedom feet will feel in the summer.


Shannon said...

I have thought about buying a pair of these for the LONGEST time. I have to go try some on though. I am very pro-barefoot but sometimes you just can't do at the mall etc.

Sheba said...

I am always intrigued when I see someone with these on. I'm very much a high comfort, low effort kind of person when it comes to shoes. I live in flip flops once it's warm enough for them. I have thought about getting these, but I've been on the fence about it.

momgineer said...

I wear mine to run! Love them! =)

*just* said...

If you're on the fence - go try them on! That helped me so so much. You'll know right them if they'll work for you. They felt weird, but not uncomfortable, when I tried them on in the store.
Another friend went soon after me to get some and they didn't work out for her because of her toe lengths(?)- so they may not work, but if they do -yeah, it's awesome.