What’s that you say? What’s that on my feet? No, they’re not water socks. Yes, those really are my toes. No, they’re not uncomfortable in the least bit.

Come into my optical department these days, and you’re more than likely to hear me answering these questions to my customers amidst my regular optical explanations. What sparks these comments, you ask? My Vibram Fivefingers, of course! Let me explain…

About a week ago, my wife was browsing the internet when she came across a shoe that caught her eye. It looked ridiculous, and went against everything you think a shoe should be, and so she came and showed them to me. Intrigued, I had to know more about these shoes, and why people all over the U.S. are running to stores to find them sold out.

Vibram Sprints Black

The pair that started it all, Black Sprints

The shoes we found are made by an Italian rubber company called Vibram (which I soon found out is pronounced vee-brum, named after the company’s founder, Vitale Bramani). The line of shoes is called the Vibram Fivefingers, or VFF’s, and there are several styles and designs within the line, each with a different look, fit, and use in mind. The sole of the foot is made from an ultra-thin, ultra-durable rubber that allows you to feel every pebble, soft patch of grass, or plush carpet you walk over. Each toe has an individual compartment, which allows each toe to move independently from the others to provide the ultimate in balance and agility. There’s no support on the bottom of the sole, just a natural contour to match the basic shape of the foot. The tops of the shoe vary by style, but mostly are made from a thin, breathable material that allows your foot to flex and fit snugly, much like a well fitted glove would fit your hand. In Italian, the word for fingers is the same as for toes, so the shoes go on your five “fingers,” hence the name.

How can walking around essentially barefoot all day possibly be comfortable? What about arch support? Don’t your heels hurt from walking barefoot all day on concrete? These and many other questions get barraged at me now that I’m a proud barefooter, so I’m putting this blog together to unify the information I’ve found, share some stories of my own, and answer questions for those that aren’t quite yet ready to jump in barefoot.

A lot of information, and pics galore, can be found on Vibram’s official website, http://www.vibramfivefingers.com.  You can also order directly from the website, however I highly recommend finding a local store to try them on first as the sizing is quirky to say the least…they’re pretty unforgiving in sizing errors, so make sure you have the right size before you start wearing them around.

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