Stop Hating On Vibrams!

I really don't understand what's with all the Vibram Five-Finger shoes haters.  When I first heard of the class-action lawsuit against them, I was totally surprised.  I don't know if I just live under a rock or what, but I had never even heard any of their so called health claims about their shoes until this news came about, and by that point I had already owned and loved three pairs of the shoes.  I just saw them at the store one day and thought they looked cool, so I bought a pair. I didn't buy them based on marketing claiming health improvement.

Even now that they've been around for a few years, people still stop me on the street to ask me questions. I'm always surprised when they say "I hear they're good for running in, I have been thinking about getting some." I almost never go running in mine because I can't stand running.  Instead my Vibrams are just my regular every-day shoes.  I wear them all over the place, all the time.  I could never figure out why someone would want to buy such a fabulous all-around shoe and only wear it when they go running or hiking or some other very specific activity.  That's like buying a great new SUV and only ever using it when you need to make a Home Depot run.

I have worn mine all over the world.  From the mountains and trails of our beautiful national parks, to miles and miles in the streets of Manhattan, to backpacking for the summer in Europe.  And throughout all of it, I was grateful for my Vibrams every day.  I'll admit, they kinda suck for walking around rural England on a rainy day, so I do have to have a backup pair of regular shoes for those situations.  But the second it dries back out, on go the Vibrams.  

I have found them to be the most comfortable, natural feeling shoe I've ever worn.  Part of me hopes they are around for the rest of my life because I can't imagine wearing anything else.  They are super grippy and great for hiking, and in an urban setting I can walk for miles without getting a sore back (or feet).  I absolutely LOVE running around in the park and playing frisbee in them.  It's almost like I'm barefoot, but with loads of extra stability and grip.  I almost feel like "shoes" is an incorrect description for these wonderful things.  To me they are more like a glove for your bare feet.  

Because of their minimalist design, it could be said that they wear out a little sooner than other shoes.  And I wouldn't deny that.  But I still wear mine nearly every single day and a pair often lasts me more than a year.  And at around $100, I'm totally fine with that.  I know many people that spend several times that on shoes per year, so I don't see it as a big deal at all.  The comfortable feeling I get from them more than makes up for any wear issues.  

Another important thing you should know is that with many people there is a break-in process that you have to go through.  If your body and feet are used to wearing taller shoes, or narrow shoes or otherwise constricting shoes -- then wearing Vibrams will make your feet feel a little funny and sore at first.  When I got my first pair, I could only wear them for about an hour or so before I had to take them off.  But after about a month, I got to a point where I never wanted to take them off.  It’s almost like they became a part of me.  So go buy some of these shoes, and don’t wimp out and take them back a week later because your feet are sore.  Just suck it up and work through it and eventually your feet will change into a more natural position, as will the rest of your posture, and they will become your favorite pair of shoes ever.  

So getting back to the lawsuit.  At this point its very clear to me that the only real problem with Vibrams isn't the shoes themselves, but how they were marketed.  If Vibram had simply marketed them as the awesome all-around everyday shoes that they are, they wouldn't be in this unfortunate situation.  When I see all these people hating on these shoes because of this lawsuit, some of whom have never even worn a pair, I get really frustrated.  Frustrated at both Vibram for choosing the questionable marketing strategy, and at all the haters for proclaiming these shoes as garbage because they didn't solve unrealistically solve their health issue.  

It also really pains me that we live in such a sue-happy society where people have to try and ruin a brilliant company because they can't seem to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing.  No one shoe is going to be a hit with every single person.  I’m sure there’s tons of people that go out and buy Nike or New Balance or whatever, and they don't go suing them if the shoe makes their feet or back sore.  They just go and buy a different shoe.  It seems because Vibram is the strange outsider and are a little different looking, people thought they would burn them at the stake.  That sounds like something that has happened over and over again throughout history.  

The one good thing that has come out of the lawsuit is that I filed my claim so that I could take the money I get and put it towards another pair of Vibram shoes.  And I hope there are many more people that do this too.  Because these are not bad shoes.  They have some limits, but in many ways they are brilliant and nothing else can compare to them.  So forget about the whole stupid notion of just using these shoes for running, and consider buying a pair to use every day.  I think you will find them to be the most comfortable shoes you have ever had.  And if you bought a pair solely to use for running because of the health claims, consider just wearing them every day as your regular shoes, you'll be glad you did.


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