How to Walk (And Run) In Vibram FiveFingers Shoes

Here’s how to walk and/or run in Vibram FiveFingers: Aim to land with your foot nearly horizontal. After the front of your foot lands, let the heel down gradually, bringing the foot to a gentle landing. Do not overstride, your foot should strike just in front of your torso/hips.

Remember, you need to walk before you can run. Learning how to walk and run in Vibram FiveFingers correctly will allow you to avoid unwanted pain and/or injuries. 

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How to walk in Vibram FiveFingers

Most of us are used to cushioned sneakers. When you make the switch to Vibram barefoot shoes, you may have to “relearn” the way you walk to avoid pain and/or injury. 

The key to walking in Vibram FiveFingers is to take short steps and land midfoot. When you do this, you will feel a bit like a cat, gliding across the ground quickly and effortlessly.

Put your FiveFingers on properly, and learn how to walk:

1. Aim to land the foot nearly horizontal

When walking in Vibram FiveFingers, aim to land with the foot nearly horizontal. You want to land on the ball of your foot towards the lateral side to avoid working your calves too much.

2. Let the heel down gradually

After the front of your foot lands, let the heel down gradually, bringing the foot and lower leg to a gentle landing. The landing of your foot should feel soft, springy, and comfortable.

3. Do not overstride

When walking, do not overstride (landing with your foot too far in front of your hips). Don’t over-exaggerate. Extend your leg in front of you as naturally and comfortably as possible.

Overstriding while forefoot or midfoot striking requires you to point your toe more than necessary, adding stress to the calf muscles, Achilles tendon, and arch of the foot.

4. Practice walking before running

And there’s all there is to it. Practice walking consistently in your Vibram FiveFingers before running. Make sure to take short steps and land midfoot, as gently as possible.

The best way to learn the proper midfoot form when wearing barefoot shoes is to walk slowly up a hill. Your feet will naturally adapt to this challenge because of the angle. 

Remember, barefoot walking should feel comfortable and pain-free. Once you are used to your new barefoot walking stride, you can learn how to run in Vibram FiveFingers.

How to run in Vibram FiveFingers

Our feet are put under enormous repetitive stress while running, and understandably runners tend to prefer support and comfort when they run long distances. Enter the running shoe.

Cushioned, padded, and full of technology, running shoes counterintuitively work against us. Sort of like airbags. We get negligent and assume that running sneakers will protect us.

When we run on such comfortable shoes, it almost seems not to matter how our foot lands on the ground. We just hit the ground any old way, and our running form deteriorates.

That’s what Vibrams are good for. They force you (with tough love) to learn how to run the ideal, natural way for the human body. Here’s how to run in Vibram FiveFingers shoes:

1. Focus on the midfoot strike

Once you are used to walking in Vibram FiveFingers with a midfoot strike, aim to do the same when running. Focus on getting the ball of your foot to make first contact with the ground.

Your foot should be very close to parallel with the ground at impact. This allows your body to better absorb the impact forces while running, especially since your shoes aren’t cushioned.

2. Let the heel down naturally

After the front of your foot lands, let the heel down naturally, bringing the foot and lower leg to a gentle landing. The landing of your foot should feel soft, springy, and comfortable.

3. Do not overstride

Just as important as how you strike the ground, is where you strike the ground. Do not overstride, your foot should strike just in front of your torso/hips.

One thing to remember is that your knee should always be above or in front of the ankle at impact. If your foot lands too far in front of your body, you increase the chance of injury.

4. Try running on a smooth surface

Not sure if you’re landing properly? Try running totally barefoot on a hard, smooth surface. There are more nerves on the bottom of your foot than anywhere outside of your hands and lips.

Sensory feedback will quickly tell you if you are landing too hard. As a result, your footstrike will most likely change instinctively within the first few steps of your first barefoot run.

If you run barefoot in your Vibram FiveFingers on an uneven surface, like rocky hills, you might not get enough feedback and learn proper form. Practice on a smooth surface until you get it.

5. Sprint a few yards barefoot

Sprint as fast as possible barefoot for a few yards in an open space, long enough to decelerate without being cut off. Notice where you are striking first and how natural the stride feels.

Completing a few running strides while barefoot after each run can help your body naturally adjust the stride length, bring awareness to the foot strike, and enable muscle memory

Vibram FiveFingers transitioning tips

It’s normal for your feet to hurt in the beginning. It should decrease as your body begins to adapt. This adjustment period is a sign that your feet increase strength and mobility. 

Remember, it can take several months to a year to make the transition into Vibram FiveFingers. Break them in slowly. If you are experiencing discomfort, please rest.

Do not exclusively wear Vibram FiveFingers at first. Add them to your rotation of current training shoes. Start with casual use and light training. Go barefoot whenever possible. 

Key takeaways

Now you know how to walk and run in Vibram FiveFingers. The key to walking and/or running in Vibram FiveFingers is to take short steps and land midfoot. Good luck!

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