March 31, 2011
Director of Campus Recreation
University of Nevada, Reno
If you haven’t seen them yet, my bet is you soon will. The Vibram Five Toe shoe, think toe sock on steroids and you’ll get the picture. More and more people are wearing them for running, sports leisure and working out.
Some facility operators have banned people wearing these shoes as they see them as a liability. Some believe they violate the intent and spirit of an ‘athletic dress code’. Most fitness facilities have some sort of a policy regulating footwear and often you will see the terms ‘closed toe’, ‘athletic’, ‘sport’ or ‘appropriate fitness type’ used to describe acceptable footwear.
Where did the five toe come from? You may not have heard but there is a bit of a grass roots rebellion going on against the running shoe industry. In the eyes of many this industry has perpetrated one of the largest crimes against the running community by introducing us to the cushy- heel countering-supination/pronation correcting- gelled-air injected- arch supporting shoe. When used for running these shoes allow the runner to over stride and heel strike in a unnatural manner leading to a running stride that is mechanically bad, inefficient and in the opinion of some, pathologic. We could go into this argument and the supporting data, but that is not the purpose of this article.