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Interview with Justine Lam on her Vibram Five Finger KSOs

Justine Lam sporting her grey green Vibram Five Fingers KSOs after a hike.
Justine Lam sporting her grey green Vibram Five Fingers KSOs after a hike.
Name:Justine Lam
URL:http://justineblam.com and http://www.koalaninja.com
Feet are:my friends!

What prompted you to get Vibram Five Fingers?

I had read about them in one of the Evol Fitness blogs, maybe Mark's Daily Apple*. I had heard about them back in 2006, but didn't know where I could try them on in a store. Finally decided to find a store in 2008 because of another article/blog and because I was starting to CrossFit. It seems like the perfect match for weightlifting activities.

What type and color Five Fingers do you have and how long have you had them?

grey and green -- KSOs

What do you do most while wearing your Five Fingers?

Hiking or CrossFit. Sometimes I wear them to work. I convinced my colleague at a media company in NYC to purchase some and often we'd be wearing them to work together. He had black KSO's.

Any unusual experiences while wearing them?

In NYC, on the subway -- multiple times people would comment on my shoes and then ask to touch them (or not ask at all) and reach for my feet and feel them.

How do Five Fingers fit in with who you are as a person?

Perfectly! It embodies my Koala Ninja personality. Super-crime fighting shoes.

Anything else you'd like to share about your Five Fingers?

I love your website and am so happy that you decided to start it. I have so many ideas brewing on how we can help share the fun of our shoes to more people.

Thank you, Justine!

A great shot of Justine pre-hike wearing her b-day shoes next to two boot-shod friends
Here is a great shot of Justine pre-hike wearing her b-day shoes next to two boot-shod friends. An additional photo of Justine can be found here!

I met Justine via twitter only to learn that we had a great deal in common — from the obvious mutual interest in birthday shoes, to evolutionary applications for diet and lifestyle, to having similar political persuasions — Justine was eCampaign Director for the Ron Paul Presidential campaign, which set all sorts of insane records for online fundraising (My paltry attempts to aid Paul's campaign were limited to a few t-shirt designs). It's great to have her interview on birthday shoes and I look forward to hearing more of her VFF ideas that she's got brewing!

*Incidentally, it was MDA that first clued me into Five Fingers. Mark's youtube beach sprinting video has likely informed more people about birthday shoes than anything out there!

How thin is the Vibram Five Fingers material? [FAQ]

By pinching the fabric of the KSO Vibram Five Fingers, I can demonstrate just how thin it is.
By pinching the fabric of the KSO Vibram Five Fingers, I can demonstrate just how thin it is.

A common question I've received is: how thin is the material on your Vibram Five Fingers? Or do your Vibram Five Fingers make your feet hot?

The material is very thin. Per the FAQ on Vibram FiveFingers dot com:

The upper is made with a thin, abrasion-resistant stretch polyamide fabric.

But since "thin" is a pretty vague term and photos of VFFs are never in cross-section, it's difficult, if not impossible, to get an appreciation for the thin-ness of the "polyamide fabric" (just a synthetic fabric). However, above is a photo of my KSOs where I'm pinching the two types of material. If you can mentally divide that width in half, you'll get a decent appreciation for how thin the fabric is and as you can tell, it's pretty thin!

One note, the fabric beneath the velcro strap at the top is much thicker, which is great b/c it provides cushioning and protection against the tightened strap.

If you're still uncertain about the fabric thin-ness, I've got one more way to explain it. Last night, I was hanging out with Nathan on his porch. I was wearing my KSOs. At some point, I was bitten not once, but twice on my left foot by a mosquito! I couldn't believe it at first because I had the KSOs on, but sure enough, when I took them off, I had a mosquito bite on my little toe and another on my mid, upper-foot where the meshed fabric of the KSOs is!

Thus, put simply, the fabric on Vibram FiveFingers is so thin that a mosquito can still suck your blood through it. In short, even though the fabric is good at keeping stuff out and good for keeping your feet cool and protected, it's not so good at stopping mosquitoes.

Go figure. It's a trade off.

Note: This response applies to Classics, Sprints, and KSOs, but not Flows, which use neoprene fabric.

Heel-striking in Shoes. A side-by-side video comparison of how you run shoeless and shod.

A follow-up from The Painful Truth about Sneakers comes a video that demonstrate the difference in running techniques naturally employed by someone who either is running barefoot or running with shoes on. Check it out:


Anyone who has run in their birthday shoes will tell you that heel-striking is not an option when you don't have the plush padding that modern sneakers provide — it's just too jarring and painful. Rather, you seek the ground out with the front part of your foot. From a biomechanical standpoint, this makes an immense amount of sense as every joint from your toes to you pelvis represents a means of compression and shock absorption. Examining the joints in your foot, you've got three per toe, which connect via your arched, shock absorbing foot to one big joint at the ankle. If you heel-strike, which is what happens naturally when you wear tennis shoes, you effectively cut out all of these mechanical shock absorbers.

Obviously, one huge benefit of wearing Vibram FiveFingers over your traditional footwear is that running in your birthday shoes forces you to land on your midfoot and employ all of the shock absorbers that your foot was built to use.

Two more videos on this topic can be found at YouTube here and here (Only watch the first four minutes of this one as it becomes an advertisement after that). And for all you runners, be sure to check out Chris Barbers' new blog, SeriousRunning.com!

(H/T MarksDailyApple for the first vid!)


Vibram Five Fingers KSO Photos (and comments) from reader Chris

Chris is up a tree in his green/gray KSO Vibram Five Fingers shoes at the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Chris is up a tree in his green/gray KSO Vibram Five Fingers shoes at the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Reader Chris sent in photos snapped from the Outer Banks of North Carolina. In them, Chris is sporting grey/green VFF KSOs.

In his email, Chris noted:

Hey cool! a whole site dedicated to my favorite footwear!

Here are some pics of me in the Outer Banks of NC shortly after getting my KSO's.

I love them! Tactile sensations and awareness are great, foot and ankle's are much strengthened. I had them recommended to me by a posture correction specialist. Also you leave really cool footprints.

After much resistance my wife now has a pair of sprints and she loves them. I have a pair of Sprints as well, mostly to wear around the house. I will get some of the Flows this fall.

Every time I wear them out I get lots of questions ... sometimes I feel like a spokesman for VFF.

I'm starting to feel like a Vibram spokesman, too!

I was curious as to how Chris persuaded his wife to pick up a pair, and here is what he said:

The tactics I used to convince my wife were

-it's like being bare foot without dirty feet
-it will help with your ankle pain from heels
-just get some to wear around the yard, I think this was the best one

I might have to try these strategies out on my wife — though I'm sure if she finally does acquiesce it will be because I buy her a pair!

Here's one more shot of Chris:

Chris in his green/gray KSO birthday shoes at the Outer Banks of NC

If you have photos of you in your birthday shoes, please send them in!

Have photos of you and your shoes? Got news? Help us.

...BirthdayShoes was built by people like you! You can help us make this site better.

Do you have Vibram FiveFingers, New Balance Minimus, huaraches like Xero Shoes or Luna Sandals? Nowadays, there are is a slew of "barefoot shoes" and folks are doing just about everything in them.

The growth in the minimalist shoe world is a great thing as people begin to reclaim their health through their feet, but it also makes it pretty hard to figure out which shoes are best for you. Well, swapping reviews, news, and stories is one of the things that this site is all about and if you're up for sharing, you can help.

1. Submit a photo story/mini-review.

Do you have a great photo of you in your "birthday shoes?" Willing to share what you've been doing in them with the readers here at BirthdayShoes? If you do and you're willing to have your photo and story published on birthdayshoes.com, fire an email to [email protected] with the photos attached and ...

Along with your photos, please include in the email where the picture was taken, a few sentences about what you've been doing in your shoes, and any other information you're willing to share. Write a little "mini-review" so that others (often people who know nothing about "free feet") can benefit from you sharing your experience. Got multiple pairs? What's your favorite and why? Had issues? Tell us about them — others can benefit from the knowledge.

Here's an example of what a good photo might look like (note it includes all of the person and not just the feet. Feet shots are neat but feet without the rest of the person tell an incomplete story!

Managing a creek bed on a hike in the Smokey Mountains in the KSO Trek FiveFingers.
Managing a creek bed on a hike in the Smokey Mountains in the KSO Trek FiveFingers.

Small print: This site is about birthday shoes (it's a pun for bare feet), not your birthday suit! The difference is important! I do not want to see you in your birthday suit! Photos submitted may be altered by birthdayshoes.com to make them suitable for the site. Submission of photos to justin at birthdayshoes dot com constitutes both an acknowledgement that you possess the full rights of submitted photos as well as a general release of all rights to the pictures to birthday shoes dot com. Basically, submission means you own the photos and are giving them to birthday shoes dot com to publish. Your email address will not be published!

2. Send us news, scuttlebutt, or rumors!

Who doesn't love to hear the latest news in barefoot? We try to cover breaking stories, new product releases, leaked upcoming shoes, huge promotions and big sales, and more. If you've heard something that you think would be interesting to others on the blog, contact us!

3. Get even more involved. Help us keep the lights on!

BirthdayShoes is a side-project. It's no one's full time job and is currently being kept up in the spare hours of folks who are busy with work, school, families, or whatever. That said, the site has had over three million unique visitors since it began in Spring 2009 and these days, it takes a lot of work just to keep things moving — to say nothing of keeping up with all the reviews, news, and other stuff we like to share.

If you'd like to get really involved and have some basic knowledge about HTML, an eagerness to do some blogging, can take a good photo, and want to look behind the curtain, well, we could use your help. While generally we've got a number of reviewers of shoes already (though we could use more female reviewers!), we could use help to edit user story submissions, write original news, and more. While we can't promise fame and fortune, you'll get some great experience seeing what it takes to run a successful blog on the internet. If that sounds interesting, drop an email about who you are, what you're all about, and how you think you could contribute to justinowings at birthdayshoes dot com!