Vibram Five Fingers: A Natural Alternative

Vibram FiveFingers is Everybody’s VFF (Very Friendly Footwear)!

I have always been intrigued about the concept of barefoot running and the more i see runners wear those minimalist shoes or running with just their bare feet makes me want to try them out, specially the “barely there” running shoes.

I had always this notion that minimalist shoes is not for me… i, whose plantar fascia or heels have brought me some problems in the past will not be happy with it thinking that i might be less protected if i wear minimalist shoes like the Five Fingers.

At its core, friends who are enthusiasts of minimalist shoes believe in the contrary, that it results in a greater connection with your body and improved running mechanics. These shoes like the Vibram Five Fingers forces you to put more focus into your effort and ultimately allows for the most natural form of movement possible thereby resulting in fewer injuries.

Last Wednesday, Barefootwear, Inc., the company that distributes the VIBRAM FIVE FINGERS held a Brazilian-themed media launch of its 2012 Spring-Summer Collection at the Sky Lounge, Bonifacio Global City. I was fortunate enough to be invited by good friend Marga Uy Baula and the event gathered athletes, celebrities, Five Fingers fanatics and select health, sports and fashion media personalities.

Demonstrating the Capoeira by a Brazilian group during the launching

Long time Five Finger users, from members of our Philippine Dragon Boat Team to Ultimate Celebrity Sole Survivor-Comedian BETONG or Albert Sumaya related their experiences with this footwear, providing the versatility of this product. From Surfing, Ultramarathon running, strength training and rowing, these activities demonstrated the many benefits of the Vibram Five Fingers such as better flexibility, stronger muscles and improved posture, among others.

Many thanks to Barefootwear, Inc. for providing me one of their latest shoe in their 2012 Summer Collection, the Five Fingers Speed. It’s the first time that i’ve tried the brand on and it sure fits nicely! I haven’t run on them yet but will surely test run them very soon and give some initial feedback.

Here’s a sneak peak the VIBRAM Five Fingers 2012 Spring-Summer Collection together with their Press Release:

For more than 75 years, Vibram has been a trusted leader in performance and innovation in the realm of footwear.  Its revolutionary and visionary founder, Italian mountaineer Vitale Bramani, whose name the footwear now carries, foresaw the need for grip, traction and durability on performance shoes and developed the first rubber sole on a mountaineering boot.

This commitment to safety continued in the brand’s quest for the perfect footwear in decades to come, and years of research and the production of millions of soles for the best shoes in the industry led Vibram to its next milestone. In 2005, Vibram introduced the next generation of innovative performance sole design: one that allows the foot to move and work naturally, as if barefoot: Vibram FiveFingers.

Vibram FiveFingers challenges the paradigm of conventional footwear. The thin, flexible, and deconstructed sole allows the foot to curl and flex as nature intended. The five toes are separate just like our feet! Because of these features, every step taken in FiveFingers is a lesson in texture, temperature, and biomechanics that can make us healthier and more connected to our bodies.

Unconventional Footwear with Benefits

A special kind of footwear that can be used for athletic and non-athletic use, Vibram FiveFingers is known for its corrective and therapeutic qualities that no ordinary shoes or sandals can give.

Vibram FiveFingers is different than any other footwear on the planet. Not only does it bring you closer to your environment, FiveFingers delivers a number of positive health benefits by leveraging all of the body’s natural biomechanics, so you can move as nature intended.  Here are five reasons to wear or train in Vibram FiveFingers:

1.       Strengthens Muscles in the Feet and Lower Legs – Wearing FiveFingers will stimulate and strengthen muscles in the feet and lower legs, improve general foot health and reduce the risk of injury.

2.       Improves Range of Motion in Ankles, Feet and Toes – No longer ‘cast’ in a shoe, the foot and toes move more naturally.

3.       Stimulates Neural Function Important to Balance and Agility – When wearing Vibram FiveFingers, thousands of neurological receptors in the feet send valuable information to the brain, improving balance and agility.

4.       Eliminates Heel Lift to Align the Spine and Improve Posture – By lowering the heel, our body weight becomes evenly distributed across the footbed, promoting proper posture and spine alignment.

5.       Allows the Foot and Body to Move Naturally, Which Just FEELS GOOD.

When it first came out in 2005, its unconventional features were contested by its critics, debunking the many corrective and therapeutic qualities that conventional footwear are not known to offer.  Even its first users thought it uncanny to wear something that resembles their very own feet.  However, the unease turned to familiarity, and over the next few years, more and more people took to Vibram FiveFingers as an alternative to conventional shoes and sandals.  Soon enough, the unconventional footwear became not only a standard, but a highly recommended choice by the prestigious Time Magazine, which considered it one of the Best Inventions of 2007.

Love Your Feet: Vibram’s 2012 Collection

Explore the joys of natural movement in authentic footwear from the company that started the barefooting revolution. Its newest collection takes pride in the latest innovations that it has incorporated in its models, a tradition that it continued doing for almost 80 years.  In the Philippines, Vibram has found a growing market for its footwear for men and women of all ages, and it is launching its newest Spring/Summer 2012 offerings with much anticipation.  Like its previous models, all its latest products carry a unique patented Vibram TC-1 performance rubber, which delivers excellent “foot feel” without compromising abrasion resistance.  They are also are machine-washable and air-dry.

A fashionable take on the FiveFingers Classic, the Classic Fresca for women runners adds an element of style to the model that propelled the brand. Designed for barefoot balance and agility, it has a lightweight, stretch upper with a back pull-tab that allows you to cinch the topline for an adjustable, secure fit. A hook-and-loop closure holds the tab in place. Durable printing on the toes, sides and heel provides added protection and abrasion resistance. The Vibram performance outsole with serrated blade lug design provides flexibility, durability and optimum traction.  The Classic Fresca sole has a Polyurethane reinforced pocket on the big toe for added durability and protection, and a serrated blade lug design that provides flexibility and traction on wet surfaces.  It is available in grape/grey/white and grey/blue/white colors.

Unlike any running shoe on the market today, the FiveFingers Bikila was the first model designed specifically for a more natural, healthy and efficient forefoot strike. Built on an entirely new platform, the Bikila offers more plating protection, and distributes forefoot impact without compromising important ground feedback essential to a proper forefoot strike running form. Athletic padded collar and topline and a single hook-and-loop closure finish off this breakthrough design.

Bikila’s tread design for the soles offers more traction over a variety of surfaces, while its EVA arch follows the contour of the foot and reduces weight.  Among its features are a 4 mm anatomical pod outsole design that distributes forefoot impact forces without compromising important ground feedback essential to a proper forefoot strike running form, and 3 mm Dri-Lex covered polyurethane footbed for more plating protection and reduced packing over a sustained period of time. It is available in silver/black.

Following in the footsteps of the FiveFingers Bikila, the Bikila LS for women offers a closed speed lace system to accommodate a wider foot or higher instep. It shares the same revolutionary platform as the Bikila to provide superior plating protection and distributes forefoot impact without compromising essential ground feedback. The naturally breathable upper features an athletic padded collar and topline, and road-worthy, abrasion-resistant toe protection. It is available in red/grey black.

The first trail running-specific models, the Spyridon and Spyridon LS provide the perfect balance of “foot feel” and protection on rugged surfaces, as its soles have a stitched-in polyurethane insole that protects the skin and foot, and a molded nylon mesh in midsole that adds a “rock block” effect, dispersing impact over a wider area.  A minimalist Vibram rubber sole with an aggressive tread design provides sure-footed grip in all directions and a 3.5 mm rubber sole that maximizes impact protection from stones and debris, while better allowing proper barefoot dynamics. Naturally breathable upper with an adjustable hook-and-loop closure ensures a secure fit.  It is available in black/green for men and lilac/black/green for women.

Designed for an enhanced trail running experience, the new Spyridon LS offers a closed speed lace system to accommodate a wider foot or higher instep. The naturally breathable upper has an adjustable hook-and-loop closure for a secure fit, and a minimalist Vibram rubber sole with aggressive tread pattern allows proper barefoot dynamics and “foot feel,” while delivering protection on rugged surfaces.  It is available in military green/grey/black for men.

Celebrities Use Vibram FiveFingers, And So Can You!

In the Philippines, more and more popular figures in sports and the entertainment industry are now using Vibram FiveFingers as footwear of first choice.  They have attested to the comfort and durability of this uncanny but comfortable alternative to the conventional shoes and slippers that they have grown accustomed to.  Now, they are not only proudly wearing Vibram FiveFingers on their feet, they are also promoting it to people of active lifestyle like many of us.

Powerade strength and conditioning coach Julio Veloso thinks that using Vibram FiveFingers is transforming the way his players run while in the game.  “It definitely forces the body to engage the different muscles of the lower leg and foot more. These muscles, ligaments, and tendons basically have remained dormant when training in regular shoes. So I believe it helps improve balance, proprioception, and injury prevention,” he elaborated.  He introduced the footwear to his players over a year ago, and a better team performance was the result of months of use.

Powerade Tigers forward Ricky Calimag immediately noticed an improvement on his running.  “Para sa akin, naayos yung takbo ko.  Yung mga muscle na mahina naramdaman ko agad na sumakit e pero normal lang pala yun at ng tumagal lumakas na at hindi na sumakit (For me, my running improved.  At first, some muscles which I don’t frequently use felt that initial pain, but it turned out to be a normal reaction and later on, these muscles got stronger and did not pain me anymore),” he described.

Even popular comic television personality like Ultimate Celebrity Sole Survivor Betong or Albert Sumaya, Jr. said that it helped that he wore Vibram FiveFingers during his 36 days in the island.  “It is so lightweight, especially when I used it in Survivor Philippines Season 4. Wearing VFF made me more connected to nature and because of this I’ve learned to live a simple life and to survive the wilderness for 36 days. My feet can breathe every time I use VFF, and it is more fun walking and running using VFF.  I can definitely say that the soles of my feet are protected while wearing VFF, that’s why I’m the Ultimate ‘Sole’ Survivor,” said this reality show star. Like him, Vibram FiveFingers is as seasoned and time-tested.

Truly, Vibram FiveFingers is every runner’s VFF – very friendly footwear!

Vibram is available at SM Mall of Asia, SM Megamall, Trinoma, Planet Sports (Rockwell, Vmall Greenhills, Newport and Glorietta) Tobys (Mall of Asia and Shangrila), Runnr (BHS, Trinoma and Ayala Center Cebu), ROX BHS, Urban Athletics Greenbelt and Chimes Davao. For more information, call 845-3850, e-mail: marketing@barefootwearinc.com. Visit the website at: www.vibramfivefingers.ph.

Merrell Barefoot Collection Launched in Manila

It’s been around in the local scene for some time now and if you’re in a race lining up for the start, just look down and you might just find a pair or two wearing these glove-like shoes that’s shaped like a foot.

It’s a “minimalist” shoe inspired by barefoot running. It’s as close as barefoot running can get and assumes that running close to barefoot is the natural movement of the feet rather than wearing regular running shoes that has pads, cushioned heels or motion control features which they say, inhibit the natural stride of a runner.

Runners have become open to trying new concepts of running and for shoe manufacturers, they have introduced the least amount of shoe a runner can safely wear while strengthening the foot and improving one’s stride.

NIKE had introduced the FREE several years ago and others have now joined the bandwagon like the VIBRAM Five Fingers, VIVO Barefoot models, the SOMNIO Nada, Brooks Green Silence, New Balance Minimus and lately, the SAUCONY Hattori Zero Drop.

Enter now the MERRELL line of minimalist shoes which has recently been introduced in Manila. It’s called the Barefoot Collection. For men, it’s introducing the Merrell Trail Glove, True Glove and Tough Glove while for women, there’s the Pace Glove, Power Glove and Pure Glove.

I was able to attend the launching of these shoes a few weeks ago at their main concept store in Market! Market!, Bonifacio Global City and the line-up seems to be promising.

It would have been nice to test-run these shoes on the road and trails and make a review of it but that might have to wait for a while. I’m just wondering what these shoes would feel like if they’re used in rough, technical trails with very minimum support and cushioning.

Anyways, they’re now available at all Merrel stores and leading department stores and retail for about P4,000.00/pair. Check them out!

Facade of Merrells Store at Market!Market!

The Barefoot Collection

Bards (Banana Running) tries one of the womens models

Among the early birds, from left Clockwise: James, Marga, Carina, Bards, me, Fred, Vener, Roselle and Blas

Group picture with the Merrel staff