Vibram Five Fingers for Webbed Toes? Introducing “Vibram Four Fingers” [modification]

Individuals with webbed toes often think Vibram Five Fingers are automatically out of the question due to the individualized toe pockets. Not anymore! You can modify your Vibrams to only have four pockets using some thread with this simple modification!

For a long time, I thought webbed toes were limited to Labradors and Kevin Costner’s better-forgotten movie Waterworld. Then I heard would-be VFFers lamenting their webbed toes making it impossible to use Vibram fivefingers. What a bummer*!

For a primer on webbed toes, allow me to quote from wikipedia:

Webbed toes is the common name for syndactyly affecting the feet. It is characterised by the fusion of two or more digits of the feet. This is normal in many birds, such as ducks; amphibians, such as frogs; and mammals, such as kangaroos. In humans it is considered unusual, occurring in approximately one in 2,000 to 2,500 live births.

If I do the math right (using 1/2000), that means that only about 150,000 people in the United States have webbed toes, which is almost certainly too small a number to make it worthwhile to make a four-toed version of Vibram fivefingers.

So what’s a webbed toe individual to do?

Modify your fivefingers to make them into Vibram fourfingers!

One webbed-toe individual named Philip saw fivefingers and had an idea on how he could modify them to work with his webbed feet. First, below is what Philip was working with:

Philip’s idea was to cut a U-shaped slit between the two toe pockets that matched up to his pair of webbed toes. The cut needed to go slightly higher than the actual webbing between the two toes were webbed. From there, all that was left to do was to sew together the cut fabric across the toe gap. For this, Philip had help from his significant other who used monofilament nylon thread to join the two toe pockets.

Do that and here is what you get:

V4F Sprints modded for webbed toes

In Philip’s own words: “I snip the fabric from the inside using sharp scissors, cutting slightly further than the webbing of my toes. We use nylon monofilament thread to sew the edges back together.”

Philip has had such success with this modification that he’s also made KSO fourfingers:

As you can see, there is a solution for those of you out there who want to wear Vibram fivefingers but have some amount of webbing between your toes! Mind, it’s probably a tough pill to swallow to have to slice into your Vibrams, and your mileage may very in performing this mod.

To conclude, Philip’s “Vibram Four Fingers” mod is very workable solution—the only solution I’ve seen—to wearing fivefingers with webbed toes. I want to thank Philip for allowing me to share this on birthday shoes**!

* A “bummer” only because it overtly eliminates the ability to wear Vibram fivefingers, of course. Webbed toes are actually kinda cool as they are a fascinating reminder of the diversity that frequently lurks unseen within our DNA.

** Philip originally posted this solution to the minimalist runner google group. I asked him if I could share this “at large” on and he graciously accepted.

By Justin

Justin Owings is a deadlifting dad of three, working from Atlanta. When he's not chasing his three kids around, you'll find him trying to understand systems, risk, and human behavior.

54 replies on “Vibram Five Fingers for Webbed Toes? Introducing “Vibram Four Fingers” [modification]”

Fantastic. We’ve just ordered a pair for my husband who has two webbed toes on each foot. Now I know how to customize the shoes for him. Thanks so much for the tip!

GREAT! I got really excited in learning about barefoot running, and was espeically excited about these shoes. Then my girlfriend reminded me that I have webbed toes just like Phillip. A quick google search returned this article, and now i don’t feel left out. Going to buy and mod a pair this weekend.

I just wanted to mention that it’s VERY PAINFUL to wear VFFs with webbed toes, even if your toes are minimally webbed. You absolutely must perform this modification or don’t bother buying the shoes.

I don’t know john, I have minimally webbed toes, and I just got a pair of VFFs (after knowing that I could do this mod if they don’t work) and I did 5 miles in them today with no pain from my syntacticly. I did get a blister on the side of my foot though… My VFFs don’t come all the way down to where my toes split on either my webbed toes or my normal ones…

I can’t wear the iniji tetratsok though, and that does hurt like hell…

I have slightly webbed feet and only start to feel it after about 3 miles, but it goes from no pain to REALLY hurting in about three steps. Wearing the shoes with the toe socks was so painful I went home immediately and cut out the fabric between the webbed toes. Then I decided the socks were worthless anyway and just went with the shoes. I will probably do some kind of modification like this.

I have the same two webbed toes as Philip. I bought the KSOs today, and there’s definitely some mild discomfort if you wear them without making the mod. And some redness, too, when you remove them. I plan on making the mod this weekend if I can find some nylon thread. Really can’t wait, ’cause the VFF are really, really comfortable.

I am thinking this is Evolution at work. I am feeling jealous. I loved that TV show “Man from Atlantis” and have always that it would be cool to have webbed fingers and toes.

thanks for sharing.

Trying to make the mod to my KSOs (I have the same two toes as Phillip webbed) but I can’t get the shoe inside-out — and it looks impossible to sew without doing that. Has anyone managed to get a KSO inside-out, all the way to the toes themselves?



Is there any way you could get step by step instructions or something more detailed. Don’t really have anyone in my family THAT skilled.

Great to someone else did this mod.
I have webbed toes on each foot similiar to the author. When I tried a pair of VFF’s it was very painful. I then tried to contact Vibram if they could do the mod. for me, but never received and answer. With no reply from Vibram I bought a pair and did the mod myself.

Is monofilament nylon thread the same as fishing line? I just ordered my pair of KSOs and hopefully I can do this mod over the weekend 🙂 I only have one pair of webbed toes on my right foot, about halfway up the toe. People who have it genetically have it on both feet, so I guess mine was just an accident while I developing.

My feet aren’t wide enough for the vibrams so what I’m going to do is mod the ‘pinkie’ and the ‘ring’ toe together so that my ‘pinkie’ toe doesnt get pulled to the side like it does. I hope this will make it more comfortable. Here’s to experiment.

I also have toes much like the author. I’ve spent a number of weeks working out the ideal modifications to prevent any pressure points. I’ve found the best way to go (for me at least) is:

1. Totally un-stich the seam at the top.
2. Cut out as much of the fabric between the toes as possible.
3. Use super-glue to glue the two toes together to form one larger toe.
4. I found on my first shot, that I created a significant pressure point that was digging into my 2nd toe. In order to eliminate this I took some sharp scissors and cut-out some of the rubber that would normally form the “side” of the toe.
5. Stitch the top back together – you end-up with four fingers with no discomfort or pressure points.

Amazing how few webbed-toed people in the world – and seems like quite a number of them want the five-finger experience! Just got my 1st pair yesterday (KSO’s) and, while nervous to immediately attack my new shoes with scissors, I DID! I followed Dan’s steps and it was very easy and quick to do. They seem incredibly comfortable though, as I said, I JUST got them, so haven’t got much time in yet. But I’m already ecstatic! Thanks to everyone!

Thanks! My 12-year-old son loves going barefoot, and I just found out about the VFFs, thinking they would be ideal for him. That is, until I remembered that he has webbed-toes. This mod may just be the ticket.

This…is…. GENIUS!!! i was so pumped about getting some VFFers, but then they said they dont work with webbed toes (which i hve two of) 🙁 This has officially made my DAY!!!!

Thanks for the tip. Had to do this tip on one of my KSO. Really happy with the result but man it didn’t feel good to cut in them. Must use scissors! Tried first with a very sharp knife but textile is very resistent to cuts.

I salute you. My toes are webbed like yours and I was surprised – and amused – to see that others were experiencing the same dilemma! Thanks to you all for this fix.

I have one set of webbed toes on my right foot that is webbed all the way to the tip. I purchased a pair of KSOs today and modified them. I first sewed the toes together and then turned the shoe inside out (as best as I could) and then made the cut with a small pair of scissors. Seemed to work well.

Justin, would it be possible to put out a call for updates on how well people’s VFF mods have been holding up and whether or not they’ve learned anything since the initial mod that would help the rest of us as we attempt mods now?

Also, like one of the Dans who commented above, my feet are too narrow for the Vibram toe spread. If that Dan reads this comment — I am wondering how the mod worked out for you?


I’ve modified my KSOs to fit my webbed 2nd and 3rd toes: it was about 20 min of work per shoe. It did feel kind of counter-intuitive chopping up a brand new pair of shoes, but I’m glad I did! One tip: make sure you remove as much of the surplus material on the bottom (sole) part, as otherwise it forma a lump of material in-between the toes and becomes uncomfortable to run with. You can have a look at my work here if you like:
Loving my barefoot running!

I made the modifications in about 20 minutes total. The sewing was a little tricky, particularly since I wear a W size 6, which makes for some pretty small toes. I could not turn the shoe inside out for the sewing, so I simply carefully maneuvered the needle up into the toes. But now the shoes feel fabulous! Amazing to finally be able to wear them.

My webbed toes (only on left foot) are COMPLETELY webbed, as if it were actually one toe. The bones are separate, but the skin is webbbed all the way up (unlike the author). Do you think this would work for me too?

I don’t see why not, but I thought I’d pose this question to identify any red flags before buying.

very stoked,


THank you for this very useful info. Just got my KSOs today and was curious if anyone ever tried to modify them for webbed people like myself. My “conjoined” toes will be very happy once I make these alterations.

hey I really want these shoes! but I dont know if even this mod would work for me. two of my toes on each foot are stuck together fully. not half way up like philip’s. so can I mod these shoes enough to work for me?

My husband asked me to Dottie mod for him when we tried them on at the store.

The rubber/sole goes over the tip, not around the side of the toe. If you have a store in your area that carries them, go check them out to make sure. From working on the VFF tonight, the fabric can be snipped and sewn as one wide toe pretty easily. Your stitches will be more obvious than mine, but who’s looking that close? (and who wouldn’t think it awesome you’ve got custom-tailored toe-shoes?)

I did the exact same thing even before seeing this article. Been wearing the modded shoes for about 5 months of 30+ mile weeks and has yet to fail me.

Well I got a pair of the KSO’s because I am a marathoner and figured these would be great for barefoot running! only problem is, that I have webbed toes that go all the way up on my right side, and about halfway on my left side but I can’t pull them very far apart like the author can. I tried to make this modification but it seems the rubber for the right VFF is too thick to be able to pull them fully together! any solutions?? I would love to get back to running and out of reg. tennis shoes!

man am i glad i found this. my gf got me a pair for christmas because she knows i love barefoot running. somehow it didn’t occur to her that they wouldn’t fit on my feet. having made the alteration i plan on putting some serious miles on my new vibram four’s

Amazing. I just finished my own mod, thanks to this site. I would have never thought about it or attempted it without reading this article or the comments below, so thank you very much guys!

Thought I would be the only one with this problem, turns out there are quite a few of us!!

Thanks for the advice it will satisfy the 3 members in my family with web toes that didn’t think they could have five fingers.A few mods and we will have 3 pairs of four fingers and 2 of 5 fingers.

I too am one of the few special people in this world and totally wanted to modify my VFF to V4F – thanks for sharing this was done. off to do some cutting and sewing! p.s. also the is what i started with because of my webbed toes.

This add is awesome. God blessed me with two webbed toes on both feet. I have been wanting Vibram’s for a while and now i can get them (-:

Another idea that nobody mentioned is take them to a small local shoe repair place if you are not skilled to do it yourself or are to scared to make a mistake like me. I am sure it will take all of 10 minutes for a professional to do it for you

Happy to find this solution. Thanks. Also, happy to see so many other sets of webbed feet out there! I wanted to try this for awhile, but, I didn’t want to spend the money if the fabric wouldn’t sew well.

I <3 the idea but mine are like, REALLY webbed. they go all the way and DONT come apart. I guess I would have to have the two toes cut of if I was to do it. I really wish I could get those shoes though!

Wow, I am thinking every person in the U.S. with web toes has been on this page. I too have the same toes on each foot webbed, one foot slightly more webbed than the other. I am tempted to buy a pair and try the mod but I would hate to mess up a new pair of shoes that I don’t even know if I will like yet. But I am considering it.

So good to see there are lots of people with webbed toes. I bought my first KSO 2 years ago and it really hurt. So i cut the threat on the seam and actually did not cut any material off being worried it in case i would cut of to much. I simply put the needle in from te inside because turning the shoe over is just impossible. Having the seam on the outside prevents rubbing and irritation inside the shoe.It works great.Nothing has come loose in all that time. Now i just did the same with a pair of Bikila’s.perfect. Also modified some classics as my heels are narrow and they kept slipping up. Also perfect now! See the link for pictures

I have my 3rd and 4th toes on my right foot webbed completley to the toenail part. But 5 toes on my left foot have allowed me to put on a Bikila and tis the best shie ever. Anyone think i could have me some Bikila FourFingers? Or is Bikilas to hard to flip.?

I am tempted to buy a pair of these shoes for my friend. I did not realise that this many people had webbed feet. I knew some tribes in africa have webbed feet which they developed through living on marshland but I didn’t know it was this common.
Definately worth a purchase.

I have always wanted a pair but like Luke herE I have web feet only on one foot. But my other is a little bit web. I am going to order me a pair know.

I bought a pair of vibrams hoping that my slight webbing wouldn’t bother me. Well, it did. My left foot was so comfortable. But it was extremely painful for my right foot. I was really disappointed, but then I found this article. Thank you thank you thank you!

Thank you so much! I just got mine in the mail, and boy, after getting the shoes to slip on comfortably, I ran into my webbed toe issue. I’ve been sitting here all day with a socket wrench jammed in my show, stretching the issue spots, but this seems like an easier, and more plausible solution!

I would like to own them, but my feet are like Phillips. If I were a more skilled person with a needle I would go for it, but I’m afraid I’d just screw it up. Which they had a custom shop for folks like me. Oh well, maybe one of these days I’ll get brave and give it a go.

More syndactyly people from all over the world checking in, Holland this time (-: Full webbing between second and third toe on each foot.

Been modifying toe-socks for over a year now, wearing barefoot sandals (vivobarefoot), shoes (Lem’s) and just started running in Merrell’s Road Glove 2.

Toe-sock mod is very easy: put inside-out, cut fabric, stitch together and put right-side-out again.

I’m crazy about Vibram’s and planning to get a pair of sprints to try to mod. I hope it is possible to get them inside-out also, then it should be relatively easy.

Anyone thought about the fact that the sole is open between the toes and in theory something could get in between and hurt you? In other words; the webbing between the toes is not protected by the sole.

I’m thinking about filling it up with something like ‘shoe goo’…

Hello fellow webfooters from across the pond in the UK. I was planning on getting some VFF but today my Injinji socks turned up and the right foot was really painful.

Of course my webbed toes. Just 2 up to the halfway mark. The sock material was pushing on the webbed skin and very uncomfortable.

Thanks to another site I have got the needle and thread out and made the sock fit perfectly. Makes my speciality look very obvious now 🙂

Now I know I can mod the VFFs when I get them. Thanks all.

Have been doing myhusband’s VFF for two years now. Got him a new pair ans sewed them up, but when he tried them on, we didnt realize that they sold us two different sizes. We will probably have to go buy the other pair so he can have both shoes. If anyone is interested, I can sell you a sewn up pair of M338 Speed Black and White size 46. Let me know!

Hi I’m Olivia and I’m 10 years old,
I have webbed feet, it doesn’t hurt much but every now and again I have pains on my two toes that are stuck together. I am more concerned about the affect people have on me when they see my toes, mostly when I go to swimming or somewhere people can see your feet. I personally would like to have an operation to make my toes the same as mostly everybody else’s. My mum doesn’t mind and said she will book it, however when I googled before it said there could be side affects afterwards, is that true? Some of the side affects were, hard to breathe, webbed toes might grow back, and severe pain. These side affects kind of put me off getting the surgery, moreover with you being a professionalist what do you think I should do?

From Olivia x

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