Best Gifts for the Paleo Diet: Vibram FiveFingers

They’re still not exactly mainstream, some people think they look plain stupid, they’re a little pricey, there’s like 100 different styles to choose from, but they make amazing Christmas gifts. What am I talking about? Vibram FiveFingers of course!

Best Gifts for the Paleo Diet? Give The Gift of Barefoot This Christmas!

Part of the fun of the Paleo movement is integrating a little paleo-osity….a little paleo-ality….a little paleo-ness into your unavoidably modern life. One thing that we can do is to try and do a few more of our daily activities in barefoot mode. We certainly weren’t born with shoes on our feet, our arches don’t need any support, and we don’t need to be walking around with pillows strapped to the bottom of our feet like a bunch of sissies. Modern shoes have turned our feet into soft, weak, powder-puffs that hardly ever see the light of day, because they are held rigid inside of cast-like shoes every day, all day. Sometimes you’ve just got to set your feet free, and let them support you like they designed to do, not how Nike thinks that your feet should be supported.

Vibram FiveFingers have only 4mm of rubber for the sole (that’s THIN in case you don’t know the metric system), no real padding to speak of, and zero arch support. Why? Because, if you support something, you allow it to become weaker. If you take away that unnecessary support, and force it to support itself, it will regain strength. That’s one of the problems with modern society….we’ve supported ourselves into becoming weak and soft.  Do you think Grok wore shoes when he was hunting down his next big kill? I’d say that if he did, they would have been closer to sandals than to Reebok Pumps!

With increasing frequency, VFF’s are being recommended by Chiropractors everywhere, as a means to rehabilitate issue such as plantar fasciitis, as well as many common knee and hip injuries. Walking and running in VFF’s allows the feet and legs to operate in the way that they evolved to operate, which can reverse many modern orthopedic injuries.

Wearing VFF’s takes a while to get used to, but the initial feeling of foot-freedom is very liberating. They make you feel more in touch with the ground, and because of that, people tend to feel more firmly grounded and surer of foot. Running is a bit of an adventure in VFF’s, because people who are mostly used to landing heel-first, have to get used to landing with the front of the foot, which requires learning a whole new style of running. Humans are of course supposed to run in this “new” way, but most barefoot runners recommend a slow and steady 6-week adjustment period, as to avoid any possible injuries due to a hasty change-over.

I love Vibram FiveFingers a great deal, so I bought 5 pairs of them! Because I have a few, and most people are totally confused by all the different colors and styles, I figure that I’m in a great position to make a few recommendations and maybe set you off on the right foot (pun intended).

There’s one little problem with buying VFF’s for someone else as a present, and it’s that they use a rather unusual sizing method. For example, maybe you decide to buy a pair of VFF’s for your spouse, and you already know that they wear a size 9….but that’s a US size 9….so you convert that to a European size, which means you should buy a size 43 shoe, right? Sadly, that’s most likely not the case. In order to get a really good fit, you absolutely need to get an accurate measurement of the wearer’s foot. Sounds easy, but how do you secretly and silently get an accurate measurement of someone’s foot without tipping them off to the fact that they’re getting a pair of VFF’s for Christmas? That doesn’t sound easy to me, especially because I have a pair of the most ticklish and untouchable feet on the planet. They’re kind of ugly too, but that’s a different story.

Ok, so…..assuming that somehow, using some mad Paleo-Ninja skills, you were able to get an accurate measurement of your spouses foot (from the heel to the tip of the big-toe), you should be all set to successfully acquire a pair of properly fitting Vibram FiveFingers shoes. So what style should you buy? The answer to that really depends upon what kind of sport or activity the shoes will be used for.

Vibram actually just brought out a whole new line of styles for 2011. They’ve began incorporating some more conventional looking laces in a few of them, and yet other styles are made of leather, which makes them appear to be more suited for daily wear. The soles of the shoes appear to have remained the same however, and the sole is really one of the major differences that affect what activity the shoes are suited for. You should definitely check out all of the old and new styles on the Vibram Website.

Komodosport

Komodosport

Crossfit/Weight-lifting

In my opinion, the Komodosport is the king here. They have an adjustable strap across the heal, with is really helpful for getting that perfectly snug fit, especially after the shoes have stretched out a little. There is also a strap across the bridge of the foot, which in combination with the heel strap creates a very secure fit. The neoprene upper is very breathable, and dries very quickly, even after a visit to the post-gym sauna. The Komodosport have a great grip pattern for any task your gym or crossfit box can throw at your feet. My Komodosports always make me feel very firmly grounded whether I’m working squats, deadlifts, or calf raises etc.

Bikila

Bikila

Running

The Bikila is by far the best shoe for road and pavement running applications. The Bikila is actually the most generally comfortable pair of VFF’s that I own. Stick with the standard Bikila version, instead of the Bikila LS, because the lace system on the LS, doesn’t allow for the snug and secure fitting that the strap on the standard Bikila provides. The Bikila also has a nice padded ankle collar.

I couldn’t find a photo of the black and grey version, so I was forced to use the green and grey photo. I trust that you would make a better decision on the color, than to actually choose the free/grey ones….because they’re a little fugly if you ask me.

Trek LS

Trek LS

Trail Running, or Just For Around The Office

The new Trek LS features a leather upper, and totally conventional training shoe appearance. It’s looks allow it to blend-in easily, if you choose to wear them to the office with a pair of Khakis, but the slightly thicker Trek sole makes it well suited for some off-road trail running or walking. While the thicker sole does take away a little of that nice ground-feel, it also takes away some of the pain associated with stepping on sharp rocks, so it’s a decent trade-off. If you would like some boots for around the office, check out the new Bormio boot.

So, off you go! Go measure your spouses foot while he or she sleeps, and buy them what I’ll bet will be their favorite gift this Christmas. But, don’t be a party pooper, and allow your spouse to be the only cool person in the house…..get a pair for you too! Then you can both sit eating Paleo-Christmas dinner with the family, while playing “footsie” with your spouse under the table.

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What do you think about this unigue footwear? Do you already own a pair of Vibrams FiveFingers? Please share your thoughts, comments and questions with us. And perhaps Barry, our resident expert can help you decide if these will work for you. If you found this article interesting and wish to let others know about Vibrams, please click the ‘LIKE’  and ‘SHARE’ on Facebook. Thank you for visiting!

Go to www.undergroundnutritionist.com, and download my 30-Day UN-Challenge eBook now……It’s a step-by-step guide to your personal health revolution.

Barry Cripps is a Paleo-based Nutrition and Wellness Consultant, who operates out of Bowling Green, Kentucky.

For more information please visit: www.undergroundnutritionist.com

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3 Responses to Best Gifts for the Paleo Diet: Vibram FiveFingers

  1. Mitch November 10, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    Barry-

    I love my VFFs. I started with the KSOs in basic black thinking the funky look would go unnoticed. It didn’t. I was a little self-conscious. Then an amazing thing happened. I stopped having knee pain and injuries. My awkward responses faded in the face of pain-free running. Not only did I add a pair of attention-grabbing blue Bikila’s but I also started to get a few converts to my new barefoot/minimalist religion :-) It might be a small sample size–three other friends and colleagues, all with knee issues, love them and are putting miles on the VFFs.

    Not everything is perfect. It took me several months to build my calf and foot muscles in to proper shape. Even though I walk barefoot much of the time, running 2 miles on my first outing in KSOs left my calves like solid blocks of stone for a week. My advice to anyone starting barefoot or minimalist is to work up to your current distance. Take it slow. Let your body adapt. For what it is worth, I ran a marathon in them this spring.

    Sizing can be a bear the first time. I highly recommend going to a store that sells them even if you intend to buy on-line. Hudson Trail Outfitters and REI both carry VFFs. Try the style you like since each fits a bit different.

    Thanks!

    -Mitch

    • Barry Cripps November 10, 2011 at 9:39 pm

      You’re right on the money there Mitch! I agree that going to a store where you can try on several different sizes is definitely a great idea. I did that with my first pair. Had I not, I would have bought my Komodosports one size too small, and that wouldn’t have worked out.

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