Thumbs Up or Down for the Five Fingers?

Thumbs Up or Down for the Five Fingers?

About a year ago I tried on my first pair of Five Fingers (the KSO model). After all, I had to experience firsthand what all the hype was about.

Stupidly, I asked the salesman if I should wear my regular socks. He looked at me as if I had three heads and then I realized my error. You can’t wear traditional socks with the Five Fingers as each toe has a home to rest in. After that gaffe, I proceeded, with caution, to put on the shoes. I had a tough time getting my toes to cooperate, but eventually, they found the right openings and all was right in the world. Next, I bounced around, jogged in place, did a few tuck jumps, and concluded that I would take a pass. I just wasn’t all that impressed.

But several months later it seemed like everybody and their mother, including my partner Shana, was wearing the Five Fingers so I gave them another shot and broke down and bought a pair. I figured what’s the worst that could happen?

The “worst” turned out to be pretty bad. I wore them about a dozen times for rope jumping, but was careful not to wear them for too long at a stretch as I knew my feet had to adapt to them slowly. I also wore them a number of other times for the boot camp class that I teach. So I wasn’t particularly worried when I wore them to do a rope jumping instructional DVD, but I should have been. After a few minutes of hard jumping, I felt a distinct pain on the top of my left foot. This was something I had never experienced before. The ONLY thing different from the thousands of other times that I’ve jumped was that I was wearing the Five Fingers. The pain eventually went away, but it took several weeks.

Well maybe it was me as I hate to blame a pair of shoes, but a few weeks ago the exact same thing happened to Shana, who had wearing the Five Fingers regularly for months. She’s still in pain, although it’s gradually subsiding.

I don’t yet have a scientific explanation, but I suspect that having the toes separated is not necessarily a good thing for all athletes. Imagine that you’re a boxer and you’re given a new glove to try out, which has separate slots for each finger. With your first punch, you’d likely do some serious damage, to your hand, not your opponent.

I still like minimal shoes, but for now I’ll stick with wrestling shoes and racing flats. Maybe one day I’ll give the Five Fingers another shot, but for now I’m content to keep my toes together as one happy family.

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