First run in Vibram Five Finger shoes

*File under totally unrelated stuff*

I have just taken my first ever run in a pair of Vibram Five Finger shoes. They look crazy, generate funny stares and comments from passers-by and…..are amazing.

Vibram Five Finger Shoes

Vibram Five Finger Shoes

The theory behind Vibram Five Fingers is to simulate barefoot running and return us to the way humans were meant to run.

The introduction of bulky, heavily padded running shoes about 30 years ago has led us to develop an unnatural, heel-first running style. With Vibram Five Fingers there’s no way you can run that way, its simply too hard on your heels.

They say it takes a while to adjust to running in Vibram Five Fingers and that you should start out slowly. So I did.

My first run was just 3 km on mixed terrain. I started on a crushed gravel bush track, progressed to looser, rockier path then finished on bitumen so that I could test how they feel on different surfaces.

Shoes with a view

Shoes with a view

Running in Vibrams on crushed gravel surface

Running in Vibrams on crushed gravel surface

Loose rocky surface

Loose rocky surface

The first thing you expect running with Vibrams is that they’re too thin and you’ll feel the rocks and stones too much. Don’t worry, its not as bad as you’d think. in fact, its just like back when you were a kid and ran around barefoot all day with super-tough feet.

My first few hundred meters of running immediately forced me to start changing my ingrained gait. If you strike with your heel in Vibrams its going to hurt, so you automatically begin changing to a mid-to-front foot strike instead. Once you adjust it feels great.

As I progressed to a rougher, rockier surface the shoes felt fine and i didn’t feel any pain at all from the rocks. In fact, part of the theory is that running over uneven surface like this is good for you as it forces all the bones and muscles in your feet to perform as they were intended. Certainly I discovered a few foot muscles I hadn’t used for a long time.

By the way, you might expect stones and pebbles getting into the shoe and causing problems. I didn’t get one grain of dirt in the shoe because they fit like a glove.

The surface was most hesitant about was the bitumen. I’ve been training on a local bike path in my expensive Nikes for the last few months and pull up extremely sore from the repeated impacts on this hard surface. I expected the glove-like Vibrams would not offer enough protection on bitumen.


Running with the new gait, landing front-to-mid foot is much more forgiving and doesn’t hurt any more than running in my Nikes.

The most painful thing is the funny looks as you go past other runners, riders and pedestrians. I ran into local advertising agent John Church (the man Jerry Seinfeld replaced in The Greater TV ads) who looked a little bemused. Rugby league legend Paul Harragon drove into the carpark as I was leaving (Paul and I were in the same class at school) but he didn’t see the shoes. He probably would understand them though because one of his old team-mates, Adam MacDougall now trains in Vibrams and swears by them.

Anyway, my initial verdict on Vibram Five Finger Shoes is very positive. I don’t think I’ll wear them in the 10k race I’m doing tomorrow, but that’s only because I need a few weeks of adjusting to them. After that race I doubt I’ll run in traditional running shoes again.

In case you’re interested, I got my Vibram’s from Sharon Clark, the owner of Stretch-Rite in Newcastle. She picked them up from Kit Laughlin, the Canberra-based Posture and Flexibility guru who has recently taken to running in them. Funnily, I discovered later that a business just 500m from my office, AOK Health, sell them, but I couldn’t find them when I Googled “Vibram Five Finger Shoes Newcastle”. (Give me a call Brad, I can fix this).

Latest: check out my Comparison Guide to barefoot and minimalist shoes

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Written by Craig Wilson

28 Responses to “First run in Vibram Five Finger shoes”

This seems to be the consensus, I think I’ll give them a go for sure. Hopefully over time they can rebuild my running.

Comment by Phil on July 18th, 2009

Do they give the benefit to younger and faster runners like me?

Comment by The Git on July 19th, 2009

Oops I missed the word ‘same’ between the & benefit.

Comment by The Git on July 19th, 2009

You can also buy them in Sydney at the Barefoot Inc store in Randwick

Comment by Jo on July 20th, 2009

Just plain weird!

Comment by Kerryn on July 21st, 2009

thanks for the article I have been looking at these for a few weeks.

How do you go with cleaning them? I had a few concerns because they are sockless and I wanted them for traveling. Will a rinse cover it.

Comment by Justin Polites on July 28th, 2009

Justin, they’re easy to rinse and clean.

Comment by Craig Wilson on July 29th, 2009

Anywhere you can try them on is Brisbane?

Comment by monkeymind on August 1st, 2009

Monkeymind – sorry, no idea.

Comment by Craig Wilson on August 1st, 2009

My little toe is so used to tucking under it’s neighbor that I can’t get it in it’s own pocket. Anyone else having this problem?

Comment by Rod on August 28th, 2009

Monkeymind – There is only one store in Brisbane stocking them, Globe Trekker, 142 Albert Street in the city.

Justin – You can get Injinji socks to wear with them. They are great socks even just to wear with your everyday shoes.

Comment by Kate on September 29th, 2009

thats great to hear that they’re available in newcastle. I wanted to give them a try before buying online. Ill head over to AOK though.

was looking at a pair of newtons but might give these a go first.


Comment by bec on January 4th, 2010

Anywhere Ican buy Vibrams on the Gold Coast?

Comment by Kerry Whitworth on January 13th, 2010


I’m interested whether you still run in them 6 months later. Was it just a fad or are they still going strong?

Comment by Steve on January 28th, 2010

I have had my vibrams for over a year and wore them during the Noosa tri last year. They take a little getting used to but are well worth it. I can’t stand the weight of my old running shoes anymore. Vibrams are so light, and especially so if running in the wet

Comment by tony on May 18th, 2010

You ran with them in the Noosa Tri? How did that go?

Comment by Media Hunter on May 18th, 2010

only problem is that they take a little longer to get your feet into than regular shoes. I ran 42:42 for the 10k in some light rain, so I was pretty happy

Comment by tony on June 18th, 2010

will wearing the five fingers help stabilize my pelvis??

Comment by monita00 on August 5th, 2010

oooh just what i want …anywhere in melbourne to buy them ?

Comment by helen on August 22nd, 2010

I have always hated wearing shoes and now have some that feel like bare feet and don’t want to take them off!

Comment by Michelle on September 9th, 2010

I am about to buy my second pair as I have worn out the ones I bought last year. This shoes are fantastic! Never again will I wear those heavy bulky smelly sports shoes! These shoes are great for walking running jogging and are so light weight. I slip them into my handbag and change into them if I have a lot of walking to do socially. To clean them you simply put them in the washing machine and dry naturally. As I need an orthotic insert that slips easily into the shoe as well. My husband runs in them yet previously he was plagued by knee problems. Our adult children have done marathons in them and that’s how we heard about them. My Vibram five fingers would be the item I would grab first in a fire!

Comment by Lori Collins on November 28th, 2010

finger shoesThe typical human foot is an anatomical marvel of evolution with 26 bones, 33 joints, 20 muscles, and hundreds ofsensory receptors, tendons and ligaments. finger shoes are like the rest of the body, to keep our feet healthy, they need to be stimulated and exercised.

Comment by finger shoes on March 2nd, 2011

Just found your site doing some barefoot related googling, great stuff!

Three K’s on mixed terrain for your first run!? Wow you are brave :) I did a small jog in the park!


Comment by Barefoot Running Australia on May 10th, 2011

OK I was just reading the reviews and was wondering if you can still get them in Brisbane or not.

Comment by kenny on June 13th, 2011

I have no idea, i got mine overseas a few years ago.

Comment by Media Hunter on June 14th, 2011

Thank you for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do a little research on this. We got a grab a book from our area library but I think I learned more clear from this post. I’m very glad to see such wonderful info being shared freely out there.

Comment by Nathalie Mutart on September 6th, 2011

I am 70 years of age and purchased my first glove shoes a few weeks ago on the advice of my son. I was very skeptical–but they are marvelous, I run through the forest twice daily in them.
They were a little difficult to get on at first as my toes had learned to sit too closely together, but they push straight on now–my feet have changed already.

Comment by dianne on January 3rd, 2012

Are they good for fast walking as well as for jogging? And is there anywhere in Melbourne you can get them?


Comment by Clare Boyd-Macrae on April 10th, 2012

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