How to Transition to Running in Vibram Five Fingers — Let Your Skin be the Guide!

Pro-tip — Before you take off in your brand new Vibram Five Fingers, seriously consider going barefoot first. Build stronger feet and diminish your risk of injury. Chances are you’ve just purchased your first pair of Five Fingers, or are conside…

NOTE: Before you take off in your brand new Vibram Five Fingers, seriously consider going barefoot first. Build stronger feet and diminish your risk of injury.

Guest post by Michael Sandler and Jessica Lee of

Chances are you’ve just purchased your first pair of Vibram Five Fingers, or are considering getting a pair. They’re a lot of fun, and you’ll likely soon find yourself with a near permanent case of the ear-to-ear grin.

But this is a double-edged sword, because if anything, Vibrams are too much fun.

If you don’t learn to go slow in the beginning, sooner or later the perma-grin you’re experiencing may be replaced with a perma-ouch.

Running in Five Fingers feels so much like being a kid all over again. They’re just so much fun we can’t help but overdo ourselves. We go too far, and too fast, before our feet our ready, and then BLAMMO, we hit the dreaded ‘setback’.

But this doesn’t have to be the case. If you go slow, and let your skin be your guide (more on this in a minute) you’ll build the strongest, healthiest, happiest feet in the world, capable of mile after mile of near effortless enjoyment, fast and free in or out of your Five Fingers.

But first, we need to wake things up slowly. Unfortunately, modern shoes have weakened our feet. …

In short, our feet have been asleep for years, trapped in a dark, narrow constrictive boot that has shortened, weakened, and stiffened our muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and left our bones weak and brittle. We can build them incredibly strong and supple, but it takes time. If you do too much before they’re ready, you risk tendonitis, muscle tears, strained ligaments, or stress fractures.

To avoid all of this, you need to go slow, and consider tiny distances to begin with.

Let your skin be your guide

Over time, your Five Fingers can help you become the strong, efficient, healthy and fast runner you were born to be. But to transition safely, you need to first feel the ground by going fully barefoot. If you take the time to feel the ground, build your feet, and develop your stride, you greatly diminish your chances of injury when it comes time to slipping on your Five Fingers.

When you run fully barefoot, you learn to run incredibly light, because you can fully ‘feel’ the ground and your impact. Most importantly, when your skin gets raw and tender, you stop and head for home. There aren’t too many people out there who will push through raw skin or a blister, at least not on an easy training run. That’s why I always tell my runners, “Let your skin be your guide.”

When you let your skin be your guide, you protect everything underneath the skin. The challenge with Vibram Five Fingers is not that your skin gets raw, it’s that it doesn’t. You also don’t feel the cumulative damage you’re doing to weakened parts on the inside of your foot. First off, your muscles are still asleep, and aren’t used to the new stride yet. Second, even if the muscles are ready, the tendons that attach the muscles to the bones are still asleep. Third, EVEN if the muscles and tendons are ready, your bones haven’t grown beefier to handle the muscles and tendons pulling at their attachment points. You also haven’t developed the flexibility for the foot to handle a full range of motion, stride after stride, mile after mile. And last, you haven’t developed the ‘padding’ in your foot, to help naturally cushion the impact.

Add all of this up, and you’ll find if you do too much too quickly, you’ll soon tear your feet apart.

If you buy Vibrams, have fun exploring in them. Just don’t go running too far in them just yet. Instead, invest in your future with a month or two of barefoot running first. Consider this foot conditioning — or boot camp for your feet — to wake them back up and help them get strong. So, before running far in your Vibrams, begin running fully barefoot, and let your skin be your guide.

But I feel great in my Vibram Five Fingers!

Even if you think all is good, it’s likely not the case. Our bodies follow the use-it or lose-it principle and the principle of ‘specificity.’ This means if we use something we get stronger, if not, it goes away. And it means if we’re used to a specific movement, we get stronger for it, and if not, we lose the ability (at least in the short run) to perform that specific movement. These two principles dramatically affect our feet and the transition into Vibram Five Fingers- and barefoot-running.

Ways in Which Our Feet have Gone Soft and become Weak

1. Our Arches are Asleep

With ‘great arch support’ found in traditional running shoes, our strong and springy arches haven’t had to work. Moreover, by relying on arch support, we’ve locked out one of nature’s greatest shock absorbers and stabilizers, and reduced our arches to mush. They can be rebuilt and raised up stronger than ever; however, you have to start slow. Wisely, Vibram Five Fingers are built with minimum arch support. That’s great for letting your foot do the work. But, if you do too much too fast, your muscles won’t be able to handle the new workload. Instead, you’ll force the job onto your plantar fascia, the band of easily-upset connective tissue running the length of the bottom of your foot. It was never meant to handle such force, and can quickly lead to plantar fasciitis.

2. We’ve Lost Flexibility

Our incredible foot flexibility and dexterity has been eliminated by stiff soles and over-effective ‘motion control’ systems. Our feet were meant to bend and flex, fore and aft, and to the sides. This allows us to absorb impact, use the foot as a spring, and handle uneven terrain and rocky surfaces. We once had incredibly flexible feet – just look at those of a baby. But now our feet have become as rigid as our shoes. While we never twist our feet in our shoes, that’s exactly what you’ll need to do in your Five Fingers for terrain, propulsion, and shock absorption. It’s a big part of what makes us feel ‘free.’ However, building this flexibility takes time. Do too much too fast, and you risk tendinitis, strained ligaments, tears, or even a stress fracture by putting new forces on your feet.

3. Our Achilles and Calves Have Weakened and Shortened

Ever taken a close look at the heel of your shoe? Chances are it’s almost an inch high or greater. Now, I’m not talking about high heeled shoes, but your running shoes. Supposedly, this high heel helps ‘protect’ our foot with extra cushioning. But what it really does is prevent your foot from its full range of motion. Our bodies adapt to raised heels by shortening our Achilles and calves. To add insult to injury, when we’re forced to heel strike, we lock our Achilles out of the equation. The Achilles can handle almost two tons of force if fully strengthened, but in a modern running shoe that promotes heel striking, it hasn’t had to work.

Vibrams, however, allow you to use a more ‘natural’ stride, and that means landing on your forefoot, loading your Achilles and calf, and springing back with each step. That’s why the Achilles was built so strong in the first place and it takes time to build them up again. Work your calves and Achilles too much and too soon and you’ll pull and strain these muscles and tendons, or literally tear them apart.

4. Our Incredible Toes Have Become Unbelievably Weak

Did you know 18 out of 19 muscles and tendons of our feet connect to our toes? Mother Nature wouldn’t have done this if the toes weren’t vital to our feet. Unfortunately, our poor toes have been asleep for years. Look at your current running shoes. See how high the front of the shoe is off the ground? That’s called ‘toe spring’. Shoe manufacturers add toe spring to help your foot roll more easily. Now look at your foot. Are your toes up and off the ground? Far from it! We grab with our toes, support ourselves with our toes, and keep our arches strong with our toes. Strong toes and the attaching muscles are essential for our stride and healthy feet. When you have strong toes, you have a strong foot. But in a shoe with toe-spring, there’s no way for our toes to spread, grab, or feel the ground. This atrophies all connecting muscles, making them incredibly weak. Wake up your toes too quickly and you’ll start tearing your feet apart.

Getting Strong for Vibram Five Fingers

If you let your skin be your guide, you’ll find you rarely go too far. Instead, next time you get sore or tender, head for home.

Start barefoot, but remember to carry your shoes with you. Consider them your new handweights!

Try this on your next run: Start out barefoot but carry your Vibram Five Fingers with you. Then, when your skin starts to fatigue, put on the Five Fingers and head slowly for home. Don’t sprint home. Even if you only have a few hundred yards left to go, consider walking home.

As your feet toughen up, so will your muscles, connective tissue and more. You’ll also find your lightest stride possible.

There’s more to it than this, and great strength and conditioning exercises you can do for your feet and legs to make the transition go more quickly, but hopefully this is enough to get you going, and safely in the right direction. For more on getting into the sport, and beginner and advanced technique alike, check out our just-released Barefoot Running Book or keep an eye out for us as we endeavor on our 2010 Barefoot America tour.

Above all else, go slow and have fun. You’ll love your new ‘shoes’ be that the Five Fingers, or your incredibly strengthened new feet. And you’ll love your beaming new ear-to-ear grin, guaranteed to continue for years and years of running to come.

Have fun and we’ll catch you barefoot!


About the authors —

Michael Sandler and Jessica Lee Co-Founded the Barefoot Running Club in Boulder, Colorado, a club that grew quickly and was soon noticed by the Denver Post. was launched to serve as a “barefoot running school to help people looking to heal, to get back into running, to overcome adversity, reconnect with nature, and find a different way of living.” Michael Sandler’s background prior to barefoot running was as a speed skater and professional level cyclist — a past literally shattered after an inline skating accident involving a broken hip, arm, and shattered femur. Despite such adversity, Michael has gone from potentially never walking again to running ultramarathons and regularly running 80-100 miles a week. If you want to glean more of Michael’s insights into barefoot running, check out his Barefoot Running Book. Also, keep an eye out for Jessica and Michael on their Barefoot America tour!

Thank you, Michael and Jessie!

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51 replies on “How to Transition to Running in Vibram Five Fingers — Let Your Skin be the Guide!”

I really like this advice. Several weeks ago I bought my first pair of KSOs and immediately loved them. I got pretty over zealous and ran 30 miles in them my first week (this was obviously a mistake!) I wasn’t too badly injured, but my left foot got mighty mighty sore and I was pretty worried I was on my way to a stress fracture. Since I’m trying to stay in shape for the “American Odyssey Relay” in a couple of weeks and my team is relying on me being injury free for that race I figured I should hold off on my barefoot transition until after that race is over. But now that my foot is feeling better and I’ve read up on safer transition techniques I think I can do tiny little barefoot runs like this article suggests while I keep up my regular shod running routine. Thanks for the article! Before I read it I was pretty unclear on how to tell if I was going to far to fast, but the “let your skin be the guide” philosophy makes a lot of sense to me. I’m going to try this tomorrow!

I have been wearing my vibrams constantly for the past 2 months. I figured I would try a little running I ran about 2 blocks and turned around. Today my calves are so sore. I can feel muscles in my feet are sore as well. My calves feel like rocks today and I can see some more muscle definition.. I can’t wait to heal up, feel stronger and run that same distance. I bet it feels so awesome to run when you have optimal foot strength. Bet I run faster barefoot than in regular shoes!

I actually mainly want to comment how great of a picture that is. You can notice the difference in the stride between the VFF clad runner and they person slightly behind.

I am like you Jesse. I get way to motivated to the level of lunacy.
I have been doing a too fast barefoot effort (6 miles max right now after about a month) and recently got the VFF Sprints which of course felt great. I had really not developed a great bf stride and did not realize it until I did a 13 mile VFF run last Thursday and then 20 miles on Saturday (two weeks after my second shod marathon). I know I know – IDIOT!
The funny thing is even with my right calf forcing a goofy limp, my left leg has zero pain. So I learned that my left should be the model for my right. I have since returned to bf only running for now to train my stride and the number of “a-ha” moments have been marvelous. I have slowed WAY down, evened up my stride, and repeated my 6 miler only this time there was NO wear on my feet and I felt like I could go longer.
So for now I am (somewhat more) sane and loving the slow development in skills.
Great Article, Great Advice.

Great article. I am interested in learning more about barefoot training based weight lifting. I am used to being a gym rat, so I have been searching for exercises to help me transition into running barefoot. Does anyone have an article or resource I could look at for weight lifting for barefoot running?

Hehe the picture is funny, it nearly looks like a procession of VFF disciples, all on they way to worship the barefoot god 😀 And of course they bring gifts as you can see.

Thanks for all the great information. I found this post through the website My buddy has been running barefoot and in VFF’s for a few months and I made my first barefoot run last week.
It was really good. I had my friend there to remind me about form, and I took one more step toward barefoot or VFF running.

I like the idea of running barefoot until your skin fatigues and then using the VFFs on the return trip. But if you do this, won’t the insides of your shoes get really dirty?

Also, when you run barefoot, would you consider wearing say–iniji socks?

Really wish this post came up about two months ago… I was really enjoying running in my new KSO Treks until I WAYYY overdid it on a weekend run (I just didn’t wanna stop running, damn stupid grin). Anyway, a week and a half of couch rehab and I think I’m about ready to get back out there… oh, and I’ll be barefoot this time. Thanks for being such a great resource, birthdayshoes rocks 🙂

I have been on the mend from a piriformis injury that has come-gone-come back over the past 9 months or so, adn kept me out of competition for T&F and XC seasons during that time. I started running barefoot after cooling down that way after a workout, and noticing there was less pain. I am using a track to gradually increase my barefoot distance, but mostly just listening to my skin. It was only after starting to run this way that I became interested in VFF’s and I am glad to hear that I am getting ready for them w/o even knowing it.

I’m guilty of too much too soon in my Vibrams – left me with Extensor Tendonitis. Now I’m slowly integrating the Five Fingers into my training, rather than switching Cold Turkey.

This is a good article. It explains things very well and very plainly.

I’m just getting started running and you’d think I would have a clean slate but I don’t. It’s been difficult. I try to extend my training by walking barefoot but it seems I also need to learn how to walk!

Great article. I spent almost a year with POSE running in my old broken down New Balances which helped prepare me for the transition to VFFS with minimal issues.

I am finding it much easier to begin (again) doing barefoot to focus on stride and form and carry and slip on the VFF Sprints if my feet get sore. So far MUCH better.
Walking? I bought Aqua Shoes for walking and I think THAT was too much to expect of my feet. Walking is a different issue altogether apparently. I am back in regular shoes for walking. Maybe after a few weeks of running I can experiment with flats or bf for walking again.
But there is no pain when I run, nice.

“I’m guilty of too much too soon in my Vibrams – left me with Extensor Tendonitis.”

Me too!! I’ve taken a week off and it’s not gone yet – I’m going absolutely crazy. I thought I was building in to this carefully – I started out doing 1 day in VFFs, then several days in regular shoes. Then 1 on, one off, finally every day in VFFs – and then the tendonitis hit, hard (didn’t help that I also had a too-tight pair of dress shoes at the same time).

The problem with this article’s advice is that I just don’t see going totally barefoot as an option. There’s too much debris, broken glass, etc. where I run. It’s not like I’m running in a war zone, pretty nice areas, actually, but it’s still (sub)urban. I’m sure some of you do run totally barefoot in such areas, but I’m just not willing to risk it. Given that… any advice (including advice on how to get rid of this damn tendonitis!!)?

I would agree with taking it slow when you first start off training in vibrams. I took it easy for about 3 months when I started life in the ff. After that point it has been good to go with running whatever distance I want. I often go barefoot vs wearing my ff just because my feet like to breath….haha.

Its reassuring to see so many others that went a little crazy! I had done a couple great short runs on my VFF with minimal difficulty,(they feel sooo good) but got carried away and did my first trail run of the season, 18k, with half in old beaten-in New Balance the other in my VFF and injured my IT band–DARN IT! They had felt fine before on 12k road runs (a little sore in calves and the achilles, but not too bad), but don’t forget the different stresses on sloppy trails. Have fun, but it really is true–TAKE IT SLOWLY

Thx Jesse,

I am one of the over zealous types who you are taling about. I bought some Treks and tried to start easy for about a week. Then started running 10 mile trail runs here in Utah. My calves were on fire but I kept at it and became addicted. Even ran on the road during snow storms. Went skiing and cycling on myrest days. Needless to say I stained the tendon in my left heal. I thought it was my achellies but it is more the tenedon that wraps perpendicular to the achellies to the sides of my heal. Big time pain cannot walk right for two weeks now. Getting a little better. Wante to run the boulder boulder but may not be healed in time. Should I start back totally barefooted?

I run in VFF sprints and flows now up to half marathon distance (recored a pb in the sprints). When I first got a pair I did exactly as this article recommends – I went barefoot. For a month a ran everyday starting day 1 with 100 yards then gradually building up to 5miles at the end of the month. I also walked each day in the VFFs for about an hour to get used to them (around town or wherever). I could run about 12 miles in shoes at that point so starting this slow was obviously difficult as I could easily run further. I did this beginner month running on a beach….now I run or roads, trails, across rocky and stone ridden paths – all with no problems and all with the VFFs……

Just tried barefoot running without the VFFs at my local track and it was hard because the surface was so hot!

All my toes have blisters on them 🙁 Am I supposed to wait until they’ve healed to a certain degree before running again? It doesn’t hurt to walk or anything.

I like many others thought I was ready, followed the break into your VFF instructions (so I thought). Went on a 7 mile hilly run last Monday, 3 on Tuesday and Wednesday and another hilly 5 on Thursday. My left foot/heel is now out of commission (elevated and being iced helps). I do however feel a little less silly since ready others comments. Could all you runners tell me what style you feel is best for running. Maybe I have the wrong style. Help?

Like many of the other posters above, I suppose I did the “too much, too fast” thing in my VFF Classics. I thought I was being careful about it … I have two dogs with whom I walk frequently, and I initially used my VFFs just for walks. After several months of that, I went out on a slow 5K or so run. After a few more runs, I began training for my second half-marathon, and was doing 95% of my weekly mileage in the VFFs. The first two weeks were fantastic, my long Sunday runs felt great, but then in week three I started getting some serious top-of-foot pain in my left foot. I persevered and ran a 5K race in the VFFs as the Saturday run at the end of the week, and even ran a personal best. But I’ve been hurting and limping around a bit since then, and have decided that it would be best to abandon the 9-week training program and begin again after the foot is healed.

After waiting 7 weeks, my VFF Bikila’s finally arrived in the mail today. Can’t wait to get home from work and run a bunch of miles in em. When I’m not running in them, I’ll probably wear them everywhere – stores, restaurants, weddings, etc. I might even wear them to bed tonight.

Such good advice. This kind of advice should come with each pair of Vff’s. I have been wearing a pair of Moc’s while working & they have really helped strengthen my feet and toes. Because Moc’s do not have the solid rubber sole, they allow my feet and toes a wider range of motion only to be rivaled by being barefoot.

Very useful and informative commnon-sense advice. Having read “Born to Run”, I recently went up to our local common and did a little bit of bf running – and yes, that grin was definitely there. Aching calves the next day, but that’s far better than aching knee joints any time. Have ordered some Fivefingers for me and my wife and looking forward to conditioning my feet (and legs) in the meantime. Not looking to run huge distances, but just to enjoy it more – finishing my usual 10K with a grin instead of a grimace

While this article must offer good advice, I find it to be discouraging. There is no way I could run barefoot for month or even a week. My feet are just too tender and soft.

I have run for 30 years, mostly with orthotics. I have been competitive in my age group but no longer race much. I had hoped that VFF might offer a new type of running experience that would be compatible with my gentler running. But I don’t think I could follow this pre-VFF routine. Is there no other way to allow your feet and legs to adapt to the new foot plant?

I’ve heard that it is okay to go for your regular run in your old sneaks, then for the last 1/2 mile or 5 mins change into your VFF. That is what I did this morning and it felt good. Then keep this type of thing up for a week and then increase the time/mileage in VFF slowly. Not sure how it will work in the long run but I feel good today.

Once you go to VFF’s, are you not supposed to go back to tennis shoes? I say this because, I’m in a military program that does not authorize the VFFs, but I’m interested. Once you start running in VFFs, is it bad for your legs and feet to keep switching back and forth?

I can confirm that just wearing VFFs will not prepare you for running. I used VFFs while working out, biking, and just doing things for several months.

Then I decided to start running in them. After about 6 weeks I noticed the top of my foot started to hurt after running. Eventually I had an MRI and confirmed a fractured 2nd metatarsal. Yikes!

So follow this to minimize your chance of injury.

Wow! I can’t ease into them. Got them yesterday, wore them all day. Took them for my 3 mile jog that I normally do every day or every other day.

WOW! My calves are killing me. Felt like I ran 10 miles! Really had to shorten my stride. Tried to focus on the balls of my feet, but still found myself slamming heels into the pavement.

I think I like the VFF KSO. Not sure if I’ll ever get used to running in them. Hope so. I’m sure gonna try.

I got VFF’s, ran too much too fast, and got tendonitis in my left foot that has taken two months to heal, and now that winter has started here in CO, I have no place to barefoot run for a while, so I am running at my gym in the VFF’s for a little here and there.

I wanted to say (at risk of you not posting my comment) what no one seems to be saying but it’s the truth: wearing VFF’s is like having foot sex! It’s reconnecting with your inner sensual caveman, and that’s why we do too much too fast. I literally feel orgasmic when running in them because all these nerves that have been unstimulated for years are being stimulated again, and some of them must connect to my sexual organs. Having said that, the injuries we are getting are comparable to when we have a new Lover and get “soreness” or honeymoon cystitis or UTI’s from too much nookie!!!!

So slow down and enjoy your new shoes – but become “friends” first – have coffee with your VFF’s, then maybe dinner and a movie, but don’t go straight to the marathon love-making sessions or you’ll have a terrible break-up and be lucky to make up!!!!!!

Take it from me, now on my second injury, which is a black toe nail from trying to wear wool toe socks, which made my toes too cramped in the VFF’s, which I liken to a condom injury.

Owwww, but sooooo worth it!!!!

Please post for the humor of this if nothing else. I think it’s the best analogy yet!

Hi All,

I think one important thing that was missed from above was the adaption of your stride.

You all need to learn to land mid/flat footed and not on your heels or that defeats the object.

Knees slightly bent to absorb impact and the landing directly under you (not in front like heel striking).

Easiest way is to do shorter “shuffly” type steps – 180/200 per minute.

Also, think about your feet when they are in the air and try and slightly point your toes (they will tend to land flat then) until it becomes natural and instinctive.

Other than that, good read.

Pat 😉

I ran a marathon after having trained in my VFF’s for 1 month…idiot.
Was surprisingly ok though, I only had one injury and it was my calf (ended up quite short lived and I was up and running again before too long.)
The shoes are great, I was SUCH a skeptic but eventually took the plunge and haven’t looked back (PR in the 10k and looking to break my 1/2 time next month)
It just feels tribal…and awesome.

I would like to start running barefoot but it is still cold outside. Will running on the treadmil have the same effect?

Hey !

I’m so glad I found this very helpful article before I bought my first pair of Vibram shoes ! I ran barefeet this morning for the first time since many years, as suggested here. I noticed (i) that indeed it feels really good and the flow of information from your feet is overwhelming when you run barefeet ; (ii) that my feet are really softened by the use of running shoes. The softeness might have been increased by the fact that I ran on a wet and cold ground. Whatever are the effects of the ground, the skin of my feet is not callused enough. Maybe I will use an ointment to roughened my skin. Has someone already use some ?

I would love to run barefoot first but the amount of broken glass and bum piss I would be subjected to would be too much. Ran 5.5 in my first run and can only complain of calf soreness and a bit of a hotspot on the outside of my left forefoot. That probably would have been avoided with some BF running first but that’s just not going to happen.

I bought my first pair just a couple days ago and I took them out yesterday for a spin. I did 4 miles of moderate hiking in them and a very short (less than half mile) sprint just because I couldn’t resist. It felt great!!!! My calves are only the tiniest bit sore. I think what helped me avoid serious aches and pains is that I dance barefoot for at least half an hour every other day or so on a hard floor. This has probably helped strengthen my arches and my toes. If you’re looking to tough up your foot, I really recommend busting out some ballet moves!


Like a good few of the people here I got WAY too excited when I first got my vibrams (classics) nearly a year ago. I have in the past had problems with my feet, mainly sesamoiditis. A few years of orthotics and good shoes largely cured it. I read born to run, and was sold on the ideas behind barefoot running so wanted to give it a go, improve my running style and enjoy running!

The first few weeks/months I took it slowly, wearing them for a couple hours a day just walking around, gradually building up into a short jog. No problems other than stiffness/muscle pain. Unfortunately, about two months ago, after wearing them for hours at a time as well as doing 20-30 minute runs in them 2-3 times a week, I began to get real pain in my right foot only. After going to the pysio, it was diagnosed as ligament strain due to poor form. The cure- rest and wearing roomy shoes with adequate arch support.

So Im still waiting to heal, and it was pretty painful there for a while. But I havent yet given up hope. I still love them, and am going to apply the barefoot-skin guiding-continue to run shod- method outlined here.

This article was really helpful-thank you!!


I would like to know, more about the knee. can people with knee problem take the chance with this fivetoes shoes!!!!

I was up to running half-marathons in regular shoes (average pace was an 8 min mile). I started experiencing various issues with my ankles, knees, and feet. In hopes of reducing pain I purchased some VFF’s.

For those of you who tend to overdo everything, this is good advice, but I just took it slow with the VFF’s. I started off with a half mile and incrementally added about a mile each week. Within a month I was up to four miles. I also lift weights so I focused a little more on leg strengthening for the first month. Be sure to stretch after your runs, especially the calves. Another good tip is to use a roller to massage your calves after a VFF run. I use a baking roller. It helps soreness the next day and reduces shin splints by loosening up the muscles.

I just got my first pair and am preparing to get back into running; haven’t run for several years, constant injuries (no amount of ortho could solve it). One thing I’m doing that may be helpful to you is jumping rope. I think jumping rope barefoot will help build my feet faster, has anyone else tried this?

I just bought my Vibrams a little more than a month ago. So far I’ve been able to run once a week. Taking slow is a good thing I guess. I am up to 3.5 miles after one 5-mile trail walk and 4 runs. I play soccer regularly so I felt I could push myself a little harder than average folk. My first run was about a mile. I just ran 3.5 yesterday and my calfs are still sore but not as much as before. The main thing is if you start feeling pain along the bottom of your foot you need to stop. The most amazing thing is to realize how strong your Achilles is! At this point I am never out of breath because the legs do all the work. For proper running never land on your heel. I am guessing the older you are the harder/longer it will be because you’ve been doing it all wrong for all these years 🙂

Thank you! I wish I had read this before! I just found out for myself today how different barefoot is from minimal. For me the idea of a transitional shoe was a dangerous route, putting strain on the achilles tendon.

Now happy in bare feet.

I thought it was just me! Read “Born to Run” and got me a pair of VFF. Started running exclusively in my VFF – nothing crazy but 3 to 4.5 miles every couple of days (I’m a recreational runner, not competitive or long distance). Felt fabulous – tired feet and tight calves but no ankle, knee, hip or back problems, ever. Then about 5 runs in, wham! Top of my left foot starts killing me but still no ankle, knee, hip or back problems so I’m thinking what the heck is up?!? Nice to know I just overdid it and that extensor tendinitis is the likely injury. I’ve been walking the treadmill barefoot to toughen my skin and let my feet splay (’cause it just feels so good) and went back to running in my new balance shoes (but at least they’re worn down). So glad I can work my way back into my VFF. Love them!

After 30 years of on off achilles injuries interrupting my running I read Born to Run duirng an airport layover. What a revelation! ‘Running shoes’ had never done it for me so why not go back to square one! All the excercises for overcoming the latest achilles injuries sustained training for a 70.3 Ironman, (nearly nine months of no running but tendon and calf strengthening excercises) were perfect conditioners for going barefoot. Slowly building up the mileage in VFF’s, but already have the grin 🙂
Not only that a neat pink pair got my wife running for the first time a month after her 50’th.

I started thinking out of the box running wise. Running in normal shoes costs me a lot of energie. I found out that I was a forefoot runner already and the my shoes forced me into a heel stride. So I started running barefoot on the treadmill and that worked out really well. Less effort per miles so to spead. So I ordered a pair of KSO and will start running barefoot outside. I hope I won’t need to long a time to get used to the new way of running and that only the soles of my feet need getting used to.

recently purchased my vff and still breaking them in-my main purpose in making the switch is to hopefully be rid of toe tip pain and bruised toenails after longer runs.Any comments/insight from anyone else experiencing this?

Hey there! I’ve been using Vibrams for nearly 3 years now. This goes without saying but I love them! I wear my vibrams all the time and have seen many positive biomechanical improvements in my walking.

I did not initially use these shoes to run but after about 2 years of using them I started going to the gym and using them on a treadmill. Things went great at first but after about a month of consistent running (3-4 times a week), my calves started tightening up to the point of it being difficult to walk in the morning. I stopped running at this point. Now about a year later I’d really like to start running again but after my first trial run last week my calves/achilles tightened up again to the point of inhibiting exercise.

What can I do to make this work? Should I just look at another type of running shoe (If so, is there a type you’d recommend)? I think I’ve given myself ample time to get used to the shoes, and I definitely have midfoot/ball of foot strike when I jog. Is there some specific type of stretching perhaps I should be doing?


I wish i had heeded the advice in this article. If you are new to barefoot running or like me… new to running!! If you think things aren’t progressing quickly and are tempted to push on… DONT. I thought i was taking it slowly, i missed out the ” running barefoot first ” and went straight onto wearing the Vibrams. Big mistake. First thing to happen was extremely tight calfs… unable to walk properly for a week. Then i thought i had cracked it.. i felt such a bounce and strength…then i started training for a 10mile fun run and intensified my training, doing sprint interval training… big mistake. I Ended up with what i now know to be ” TOTFI” or top of the foot injury. I still did the fun run “in trainers and painkillers”.. that was 8 weeks ago… i am only NOW able to walk properly but still suffer pains… heed the advice … if you think your taking it easy… your probably not. take it even slower. i would recommend a progressive 4-6 months .. if you are like me… not a runner.

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