A few months ago, I bought a pair of Vibram Five Fingers. They’re these cool (well I think so) shoes that are meant to make it seem like you’re walking around barefoot. According to Wikipedia they were originally made for sailing and climbing. They’ve since become pretty popular with runners and, where I work, computer programmers.
I originally bought them because I thought they’d make a better water shoe. I was tired of the 5 dollar gas station special that would rip, tear, and fall off. It was an expensive experiment but I went ahead and pulled the trigger anyway. The difference with these shoes is amazing. You can feel every step you take. If you’re walking on grass, pavement, or bricks it is a different and interesting feeling. So I walked around a lot, and got some pretty ridiculous blisters.
A little background; when I go to work, I try not to drive. I only live about a mile from where I work so I decided to find some alternate transportation. I ride a longboard to work every* day. After a week of longboarding I usually notice a bit of a pain in the shin of the leg I push with. Its not a terrible pain, just a minor shin splint and no skating over the weekend usually means no pain on my trip to work on monday. Its never became much of an issue because I enjoy skating to work and its good for me.
After getting used to my FiveFingers a little bit more I decided to try skating in them. Just like walking in them, it was a truly new and interesting experience. I could really feel the board. I felt like a surfer while I curled my toes over the edge of the board. It was awesome, I was never more excited to ride my board and I looked forward to going to and from work every day. The only problem was that slamming my almost bare foot on the pavement was not super comfortable. After a couple days my pushes smoothed out a little and I was able to kick a little softer and more efficient. It no longer hurt, it was just fun. A week later, my expected shin pain wasn’t there. My FiveFingers had changed the way I pushed and fixed my problem. Even after riding with my shoes for a few days (I walked too much and got some SWEET blisters) I don’t notice any shin pain. What is noticeable is how much softer and smoother I push on my board now.
The one thing that worried me is the wear and tear on the shoes. They’ve held up really well. After a month or so of regularly riding my longboard with FiveFingers they haven’t showed any signs of increased wear. They’re great. If you’ve been thinking of buying them (for anything, not just longboarding) do it.
*when it isn’t raining or snowing