U.S. Army Outlaws Vibram Five Fingers

Here is the policy that our anonymous source forwarded us:1. Situation. The popularity of Vibram Five Fingers (VFF) and other minimalist footwear for use as running footwear has reportedly skyrocketed in the past 12-18 months in both civilian and m…

Here is the policy that our anonymous source forwarded us:

1. Situation. The popularity of Vibram Five Fingers (VFF) and other minimalist footwear for use as running footwear has reportedly skyrocketed in the past 12-18 months in both civilian and military populations due in large part to word-of-mouth promotion by advocates of barefoot/minimalist running, and effective marketing by Vibram and other footwear companies. Additionally, anecdotal information provided in various publications and/or web sites has suggested that barefoot and/or minimalist running is biometrically more sound than shod running. The sudden increase in the use of minimalist running shoes has prompted the United States Army Physical Fitness School (USAPFS ) to provide additional guidance as to the definition of “commercial running shoes” referenced in AR 670-1 paragraph 14-3, dated 03FEB2005. This interim guidance which is offered in accordance with AR 670-1, Paragraph 14-3 states that; “Commanders may authorize the wear of commercial running shoes with the PFU and IPFU. Commercial running shoes do not include mininalmist shoes, light weight track/road racing flats, racing spikes, toe shoes, or shoes that simulate barefoot running. Commanders and leaders at all levels will comply with AR 670-1, Paragraph 14-3.”

2. Mission. Effective upon receipt, all BOLC B and WOBC schools will update policy memorandums to reflect this interim guidance, and brief all students and cadre of the new change. This guidance will also be integrated into command briefs and/or policy letters for incoming students until such time as DCG IMT warrants guidance is no longer necessary.

Though we cannot attest to the accuracy of this information, we doubt it is a hoax. Here is what our tipster told us when we expressed our amazement:

You read it correctly. To further clarify though – this policy only affects TRADOC (Training & Doctrine Command) which is where all Soldiers attend basic training and officer basic courses. However, the tone of the policy indicates that an Army-wide policy is forthcoming banning ALL “minimalist” shoes.

What do you think about these new restrictions?

By Britt

Hailing from College Station, Texas (Home to Texas A&M!), I grew up running cross country. Believe it or not, I gave Justin the name for this site back in early 2009 but I didn't jump on the toe shoes bandwagon until a year later. I am also really into quadcopters and drones and have a blog called OddCopter.com.

119 replies on “U.S. Army Outlaws Vibram Five Fingers”

i’d be interested to hear what their reasoning was for this decision. what diff does it make what shoes someone is wearing (unless its some kind of combat simulation and you need to be wearing whatever a soldier would be wearing on the ground)?

I’ve worn FiveFingers every single day since last July, and I can attest to the fact that, after one’s body has recalibrated to barefoot mode(straighter spine, toe freedom, et cetera) a reversion to “normal” shoes can cause irritation, discomfort, or even pain in the toes and back. For me personally, it only takes about a minute of wear before the adverse side effects begin.

This is the oldies that are sitting and have to find something bitch about… and now it is minimalist running. Why change someones running habits. The Army is so backass-word, that they are hindering the way their soldiers run. Another reason I am happy I am in the Air Force.

Just another case of ‘fear of the unknown’ I can’t wait until all the old fat-cat in charge types die off and are replaced with some minds that are more in tune with the times.

Seems kind of strange to ban “minimalist” shoes in general, especially when there’s a trend in running shoes in that direction anyway. Is a Kinvara not allowed for example?

While I most heartily disagree with this policy, at the same time, when you go into the armed forces, you follow their rules. They can tell you how to wear your hair, what clothes you have to wear, how those clothes are to be cared for. They basically dictate everything about how you look and what you can wear. And it’s all about uniformity and conformity. So, it doesn’t surprise me that they’d come down on something as unconventional as FiveFingers.

Also, there’s also a lot of conflicting information out there on the shoes. The military could simply want to wait until there are more solid studies out there on the long-term effects of minimalist footwear. Right now we’ve got tons of people touting the benefits, and a lot of people saying that the long-term effects are yet to be seen. I tend to side with the former, but I can’t necessarily blame the Army for siding with the latter, especially when they’re training soldiers.

Bottom line, when you sign on to be in the military, you sign on to their rules of conformity, whether they make sense to you or not.

I’m pretty sure the Olympics don’t let you perform in them either, for track events, but I don’t see people up in arms over that. *shrug* While I’m a huge proponent of FiveFingers and all their benefits, the fact is most of us are simply not going to be able to get away with wearing them in all situations.

Issue: I can only guess that it’s the old guard in the pencil pusher’s office- they don’t like new. I know this, since I am a vet & I know that red tape runs deep & old habbits die hard @ DoD.

Solutions: Vibram already makes trusted product for the troops- a re-education on running doctrine/culture is due @ the top brass. Vibram must use it’s good will & leverage on this.

Vibram might find a strong friend in SOCOM- who most likely is already using V5’s(off duty) & other Vibram gear (on duty). SOCOM has the ear of those who make policy- a word/endorement from them carries weight.

Offer to make V5’s that meet special needs/cater to troops. This could mean several things:
-V5’s with branch specific color schemes (blue & gold for Navy, red & black or OCP for Marines…these would be popular with the rank & file, senior NCO’s and a huge moral booster all around)
-V5’s made with OCP/Multicam fabrics/patterns. (also AOR, A-TACS. etc)

V5’s that could meet requirements for special use, such as for mountaineering &/or
extreme weather use, like sand (need it most) and special winter use. Vibram might consider a 3 toe shoe for extreme/winter use that is better for warmth & dryness on cold weather, & another that is made for hard terrain.

Hope this helps.

I’m an Army chaplain who’s been wearing VFFs for about a year and a half. Last fall, I took my semi-annual physical fitness test in them. I’ve never been a good runner, but training in VFFs has improved my form and taken time off my run. 2 weeks later, I ended up in an email conversation with the commandant of the physical fitness school. He (a government civilian) stated that VFFs and other similar minimalist shoes may provide an “unfair advantage” in the testing. The physical fitness tests were designed with “normal” commercial running shoes, and these don’t fall into that category. I countered with the fact that many fitness shoes sold today (with springs in the heels, etc.) don’t fall into that category, and honestly give more of an “advantage” than my VFFs. I explained that the only advantage I gain through the VFFs is a biomechanical one through training in them. I can still wear them for my normal physical fitness regime, but I can no longer wear them for testing.

Now, the physical fitness test is about to undergo a huge change, so I can only hope that this policy will change along with the test. For now, though, I’m known as the chaplain with the toe shoes around here.

US Army Chaplain, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska


Nobody would dispute the factual accuracy of what you’re saying – the army clearly can (and did) do this, and those in the army have to live with it. But those of us not in the army might reasonably ask for the “because” here. The memo goes on at great length about the rise of minimalist running and then simply says minimalist shoes are banned. I, for one, would like to think that when military commanders make decisions that affect how our soldiers train and the stresses on their bodies, there’s some rationale to those decisions.

To the extent your post was saying, “it’s the military; they don’t have to explain,” you’re right. They don’t have to. But they SHOULD. If there’s a good reason (or even a bad reason they think is good), why wouldn’t they give it? The failure to do so can lead to only one of two conclusions: either the army is so rigid that they don’t give reasons even when they have them, or they don’t have one in this case.

Given the length of the memo, which could have simply banned minimalist shoes in one line but instead discussed the issue at length, I have to conclude it’s the latter.

I forgot about one other follow-up note. A lot of the reluctance seems to be related to injuries. One of the officers I work with bought a pair of VFFs while in Afghanistan. He ran 5 miles in them the first time out, but hurt himself so badly that he hung them up in the closet and hasn’t pulled them out since. So many people don’t approach training with any common sense, and those over them don’t understand how to make adjustments.

When I bought my first pair of VFFs (I have 5 now – I know, small number compared to many of you), I jogged 1.5 miles very slowly, focused on form. I’d done a lot of research before even buying that first pair. 5k runs are no problem for me, and I’m determined to run both a half and a full marathon in them this year.

US Army Chaplain, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska

I have to side with the army with this one…it is no fun to wear other shoes after you have been used to Five Fingers and switching to regular shoes in different situtations would be hard on the feet and the ability to do what needs to be done in a combat scene. You don’t want to be thinking about how your feet are working when you need to be thinking about getting out of a bad situtation.

Isn’t it obvious? The reason must be hand-to-hand combat. A soldier needs to have shoes that can kick the enemy’s teeth out with a half-miss. Try that with VFF and you’ll probably break your own ankle. Basically the same reason as for short hair, don’t wanna give the enemy anything to kling on to during hand-to-hand.

But with 99,9 % of all killing being done from far distance today, and VFF being superior lesiure wear AND running comfort once you “get it”… they should still be allowed for training running.

Served in the Army for 5 years, my feet were destroyed. I had a severe case for Plantar Fascitis (sp?) that was diagnosed in both feet, the Army spent all this money on expensive custom orthodics. Needless to say it did NOTHING! I went out on my own and got a pair of KSOs. Withing 6 months my feet healed a tremendous amount. Now I still wear a more conventional shoe for longer runs, but anything under 1.5m, as well during CrossFit, i wear my 5 Fingers. I can not praise them enough as a training tool.

Having said all of this, I had to chuckle when I saw this post. Leave it to the Army to act like this.


Old Army scared of the future. We’re suppose to be able to adapt to the ever changing battle field, prepare for the future etc etc etc. When was the last time you bought a pair of shoes or boots that were the heaviest you could buy. P2 for PF that has 99.9% gone away due to me wearing VFFs. Guess it doesn’t matter if you can perform better or more efficiently with VFFs. I’ve seen a lot of POS Soldiers of all ranks that just because they have a high in tight, ironed uniform etc they are thought of as good. Come on, 45 years old, and I’ll smoke the sh_t out of Joes 1/2 my age.

“I’m pretty sure the Olympics don’t let you perform in them either”

adobe bikila, the person whom the VFF bikila is named after, won an olympic event barefoot. if they let you run barefoot in the olympics why wouldn’t they let you run semi-barefoot ?

But if you outlaw FiveFingers, only outlaws will have FiveFingers!

Jokes aside, though, I fail to see the problem really. Those who’re not in the army aren’t going to be affected; those who ARE in the army knew that they’d have to comply with regulations etc. when they signed up and that they wouldn’t be able to express their individuality in every conceivable way while on duty.

I’d be interested in the actual reasoning behind this, though. Surely the army didn’t just randomly decide to ban toe shoes etc.? What disadvantages do they see?

What’s more of an eyesore, Black/gray VFFs or a pair bright yellow running shoes that I have seen during PT?
Please let me get the new assignment I want

The common thread to the list of what’s considered “non-Commercial” seems more to do with weight of the shoe than anything else. I can testify to the fact that all through High School and College my coaches forbade us to train in lightweight footwear. We were only allowed to wear our racing flats or spikes for some short speed sessions to get use the feel and then at the big races. The idea was to “train heavy, race light”. For good or bad this is a training approach that has been around forever; and one probably still embraced by the “old guard.” So yes, in a sense wearing a lighter shoe does give one an definite advantage, duh that’s why we were racing flats in races right? OTOH, anybody that’s having issues with “Commercial Shoes” in their regular running, especially new runners, simply haven’t been fitted correctly or given the shoe enough time to work; there is a perfectly good shoe for everybody; just take time to find the right combination. From my own personal experience of running for over 20 years I know there are growing pains early on, and frankly you’re not a runner unless something hurts! 🙂

This is all about economics. I was a basic training company commander for 18 months and saw this first hand. Most Soldiers are forced to purchase their running shoes at the local Post Exchange or Clothing and Sales store. These are usually your basic Asics or New Balance. If Soldiers went and bought their VFFs outside the normal channels then it would bankrupt the PXs.
I ran my last PT test in my Treck Sports and did really well. I try to tell everyone I know about them. They got rid of my shin splints and bad knees. I will wear mine until my commander orders me not to.

I’ve been on a P2 profile since 2003, unable to run without severe knee pain and swelling. Now I’m running my 2mile in the 12’s again, with no pain or swelling. Guess the Army would rather I sit on my butt and get fat rather than be physically fit, even if I’m wearing a more “acceptable” shoe like the Merrell trail glove. I do take comfort in the fact that most of my peers and superiors can’t tell what a minimalist shoe is unless it has toes wiggling at them. I think us Army guys will be safe with shoes that are lower profile like the trail glove for PT wear, and can wear our VFFs on our own time.

Well, maybe if all these VFF folk in the Military start showing up injured after switching back to regular sneakers, the Military will have to re-think yet again.

I can understand this.
And it boils down to “You train how you fight, you fight like you train”. You won’t see barefoot shoes issues for combat or in the field anytime soon, and most all of us can imagine a scenario where a soldier spending time worrying about stepping on something sharp would get himself killed.

In combat situations, soldiers need to be able to perform to the minimum standards set forth by the army. The PFU and IPFU are they way they verify you meet these standards without someone lobbing grenades at you, so you need to be doing them in a way that mirrors combat (i.e. shoe like objects on your feet).

The army isn’t saying you can’t train barefoot on your time, in fact they probably would encourage that if it keeps the soldiers motivated to better themselves. What they are saying is that their benchmarks are to be measured wearing a combat boot analogue (shoe)

Well that bites. I was a 15 Delta in the US Army and suffered shin splints, and I do mean suffered. Even the inserts they made for me didn’t help much. I would think they would be more open minded about them, if only for the stealth factor!

I’m an Officer in the Army and have personally approached two, two star generals about the five fingers issue. As high ranking, intelligent leaders in our military they listened to my impassioned plea and were okay with me wearing five fingers. The Army (and the taxpayer) has spent loads of money on orthotics and therapy for my then aching feet. When I switched to Five Fingers I saved the taxpayers money. This decision, if real, does not surprise me given that certain leaders in the military don’t like something just because its different.

Adam: You also don’t run away from grenades with Nikes with springs. You conduct military training in boots because you train as you fight. PT is designed to create better overall physical fitness in Soldiers. Stronger, healthier feet that are created as a result of wearing minimalist shoes will better help one react in combat.

The Navy has banned them for official use as being faddish. I suspect that it will be another 5-10 years until we catch up to reality.

I have been in the Army for more than 20 years and I can tell you this much. Training in minimalist shoes would make every soldier a better soldier. All these worries about “train like you fight” and VFF’s creating problems with wearing boots are nonsense. Morning Physical Training (PT) is only an hour or so. One hour wearing VFF’s is not going to change how your feet function for the next 8 hours in combat boots. No one is going to wear them on an actual mission.

As to why the top brass won’t allow them, its simple….670-1 is the regulation that covers “Uniform Wear and Appearance”. This is all about appearance. The Army cares much more about how professional a soldier looks than how professional he or she actually is. That’s why First Sergeants and Sergeants Major spent so much time bitching about haircuts and mustache trims instead of making sure everyone is properly trained.

If you want to see where the real training is going on, simply go on to any post that has a Special Forces Group and drive by their compound around 6:30 am. You will see that uniforms are not the focus. Sure, each team might be wearing the same t-shirt, but you damn sure won’t see a bunch of guys in the grey Army PT uniform. You’ll see a lot of black t-shirts with skulls and wings and such, and yes, you’ll see a lot of VFF’s. The Navy SEALs are actually buying them for some of their team guys now.

I am 100% positive that VFF’s will never be approved for wear in uniform, but that doesn’t mean that the real warfighters out there aren’t using them. They are……and our soldiers will be better for it.

@ john “What’s more of an eyesore, Black/gray VFFs or a pair bright yellow running shoes that I have seen during PT? Please let me get the new assignment I want”

What’s your point? I wear Kinvara in ViZi-Pro Orange to PT. The policy doesn’t mention anything about colors.

I’m just hoping the Kinvara or Minimus don’t catch heat for being “minimalist shoes”.

Well, when the existence of the whole organization, in this case the Army, is based on protecting people form bad, you must squash anything that might point towards the idea of less is actually better, that there might not be such a need for so much protection. Even when it comes to shoes.

@willie, sorry, not bashing your shoes at all.

Just asking what gets more attention in the morning formation. Black/gray VFFs or bright yellow shoes. Oh, and my next pair of running shoes,lime green Suacony Grids. Prior to this “new” 670-1, if they were classified running shoes, which VFFs are, it was up to the CDR.

This policy will hopefully change and the USAF will lead the way in teaching good running mechanics, proper stability and mobility in joints specific to running, progressive aerobic development….and how a shoe affects form. We are developing a program called Efficient Running for all our troops to help them succeed in the PT tests and more importantly become healthier. We will gather important data also to help all the Joint Forces succeed. Several military leads just attended our 3 day injury prevention summit . review posts are at http://www.runblogger.com in posts from Feb 2-9.

Lt Col Mark Cucuzzella, USAF Reserves

PT is for over all fitness and shouldn’t be compared to training for missions. They train for combat in their combat boots. When my husband spends days out in the field training for deployment, they are wearing boots because that is what they will be wearing in combat.

However, when they do PT, to build overall fitness, they no longer have to wear their combat boots as they once did. They changed the rule years ago because boots were too hard on their feet during all the running for PT. Hopefully they will change it again when they realize how stupid it is to outlaw minimalist shoes.

I thought I would add that my husband’s combat boots have Vibram soles. I find it amusing that they will outlaw certain shoes made by Vibram but soldiers are still allowed to walk around on Vibram soles.

I’ve been in the Army for 18 years(the first 12 yrs predominantly in the light Infantry which runs and hikes as a primary mode of transportation). As many others on this site mentioned, I had numerous pairs of orthodics (all custom made/ordered to the tune of thousands $) all paid for by the Army. All of my injuries were over use injuries typical with super arch supporting foot gear. I started (wisely and slowly) with the VFF’s last year and have completely healed my feet. My run times are faster and athleticism in higher. The Army’s orthodics are in a pile in my closet.

The bottom line here is culture. What’s unfamiliar, or uncomfortable, or different is hard for our Army to accept, let alone adopt.

I can personally confirm and agree that the Special Ops community has integrated the VFF’s into their fitness progam and, as usual, they have amazing results.

I too have pleaded the case for VFF’s or minimal footwear (with all the empircal studies and evidence published, combined with numerous personal success stories) to several Generals and senior Command Sergeants Majors (many of whom use the VFF’s), but it only takes one staff bureaucrat to convince one the right senior leader that VFF’s “look bad” for a decision to be made. Once in the regulation it will take years to reverse. We struggled for five years over whether or how and when we could use an issued (civilian) black fleece jacket.

I won’t hold my breath for the “Big” Army to adopt and accept VFF’s anytime soon. Further, I am bemused by the Physical Fitness School’s “unfair advantage” argument, especially when they have failed to modify the PT test (aside from making it easier)in 20 years despite it’s obvious shortcomings. It’s all part of a culture that keeps tradition over true change.

My recommendation is for Soldiers to just use the VFF’s as much as they can (especially out of uniform) and continue to tell their stories of healing and fitness success.

Perhaps a grassroots VFF movement is the best way after all.

I have been in Army for nearly fourteen years. These shoes have allowed me to run again. They are surprisingly the most comfortable thing I have ever worn. During Ranger School, I thought I severely sprained my ankle but found out after finishing that I tore two ligaments in my ankle, resulting in two separate surgeries. The doc told me after the second surgery that I would not be able to run long distance anymore. One year later a friend of mine introduced me to Five Fingers. I did some research, learned how to run again and completed 5 half-marathons in less than 10 months, not including countless other road and trail runs. And this is coming from an average-joe runner. The longest run I did before this was a 10 mile run in 2002. Wearing VFFs has been nothing short of liberating. No ankle, knee, or back pain anymore. They look different, thus big Army says “no” even though there is plenty of quantifiable research that supports their effectiveness and improved performance of those who wear them. And this, my friends, is what astounds me. We have a piece of gear that improves performance and effectiveness of our nation’s fighting force, yet Army leaders will not allow Soldiers to wear them, and they have not given a purpose as to why they are not allowed, other than “No.” I equate that to sending a Soldier on a combat patrol without telling him why he is going out on a combat patrol. Unfortunately, this reinforces that idea. I believe these kind of narrow-minded culturally driven leaders destroy the fabric of what makes our Army great: initiative. And this results in a centralized, autocratic army that oozes with mediocrity. As an informed Soldier, I would suggest, as many others have, to continue to support the shoe in any form or fashion you can, i.e. continue to wear whenever you can off-duty or create a fan site on Facebook for mil that support the wear of VFFs during PT. If you enjoy road races then enter a race hosted by your local military post, wear the shoe, and run like hell! Become a respected educator, and model for what minimalist running (VFFs) can provide to our national defense. i.e. a injured Soldier is no good to any of us. I reiterate what many have said above: This is not about a shoe, this is about changing the mold of a rigid culture. The worse thing we can do is give up. Continue to be a RESPECTED advocate of the shoe. Be the example that others want to emulate. And do it wearing VFFs. The military is clearly a public position thus there is a sense that the public might lose trust in our nations defenders if there is some abnormal trend that is seen in our nations military. People get scared at what they do not know. I challenge you to be a trusted advocate of minimalist running/VFFs. And one day when one of us is in a position to influence policy, change the damn policy. Just don’t give up. This ridiculous military policy is about much more than simply banning a shoe. It’s about changing a foregone culture that is unwilling to listen, change, or trust subordinates that are actually educated. Don’t give up the fight. I can promise you that I will not.

You know, I honestly cannot find an official reference to this anywhere. For those in the Army, I’ve searched all over AKO, including the physical fitness school’s own website. There’s nothing there. So, either this is coming out in what’s known as an ALARACT format, it’s still pending guidance, not officially published, or it’s someone simply gossiping.

What I got from the commandant of the PT school when I spoke with him (remember, he’s a government civilian, probably retired military) was that VFFs were allowed for training, but not for the semi-annual PT test. Even that guidance can’t be found in writing anywhere that I’ve seen. Thus, I’m continuing to wear my VFFs until someone tells me that I simply can’t.

The soon to retire Sergeant Major of the Army Kenneth Preston has even reportedly considered getting a pair to try them out in a distance run.

I’ve been wearing vibram 5 fingers for two years. They’ve held up beautifully. Wear for gym, walking on the road or in water. I have balance and sensation problems because of MS. Wearing these give me contact with the ground like no other shoe with noticeably improved balance.

Chaplain Ken – I can’t find anything either. Nothing posted on the Army G-1 Uniform Policy site. Army Times also reported that VFFs were not allowed during the APFT due to the “unfair advantage.” I can’t find that in any official guidance either. I say keep wearing them until someone shows it to you in an official policy.

It wouldn’t surprise me if this was official. The Army can be institutionally & systemically retarded when it comes to anything new. There also won’t be any data to back up their claims about how great traditional running shoes and boots are. Go ask them for statistics on foot, knee, and hip surgeries that are entirely non-combat related… i.e. are related to walking, marching, running in normal training and, more importantly, traversing rocky terrain in places like Afganistan. Major knee surgeries are now as common amongst the infantry as minor hemeroid surgery is for combat fixed-wing pilots (hint: they sit a lot and the anti-g-lock stuff is practically a recipe for ‘roids). Vibrams are verging on becoming the default footwear of special forces across branches and is extremely prevelent. SOCOM peeps couldn’t care less about regulations. I also wouldn’t account for any of this due to tradition. Giving the Ranger berret to everyone was certainly not in line with upholding tradition.

When did you hear the VFFs were banned in the Navy? Recently? A couple months back my younger brother said he sees them all the time. While you can’t wear them in uniformed situations (obviously), he’d mentioned there was no specific ban and all you had to do was wear toe-socks or spoof your socks by cutting the bottom of them off and just have the tube part looking like you’re wearing one. It was entirely a sock-related thing, he said. I think he’s in charge of groups of sailers during PT time during week days as a side duty.

big difference between tradoc schools where most new soldiers filter through via basic training or AIT (job training after basic) versus regular duty.

In the first place they are working to indoctrinate everyone into the military. In the other, they are getting shit done.

SO yeah, I kind of agree with this in TRADOC. As far as BCT goes, it’s less about what is effective, and more about just getting you running and conforming. People might object to the perceived oppression of personal expression in BCT, but really, the intent is less to oppress and more to get you to think of more than just yourself. People can be amazingly selfish, and that just doesn’t fly in a military situation.
After BCT, pretty much everybody has further training- which is still TRADOC. I remember one person who was so won over by the minimalist shoe fad that he ran a Physical Readiness Test for the Navy- one and a half miles- in brand-new Vibrams that he’d never worn before. While in training, commands deal far too frequently with people playing up injuries and trying to get out of responsibilities. It’s like high school all over again- except that it’s not just your school, it’s your job, and you are expected to be at least preparing for deployment readiness.
I dunno, maybe it’s an isolated incident, but it’s a lot harder to screw up your feet in regular running shoes- and people still do it. They’re probably just trying to rescue their soldiers from their own stupidity.

I am a little confused – the guys and gals are encouraged to stay in shape, hit the weights – get stronger and get more fit. The foot is the foundation of the entire body. Tons of other pathologies’ and ailments have been clearly linked to ineffective function of the foot, or a weakened atrophied foot. Making the foot stronger only makes sense. The bigger issue here is probably the ill -designed and poor biomechanical functioning of the issued footwear. True that any recruits jumping into the barefoot trend, with a no pain no gain mentality, may predispose themselves to injury or actually cause an injury. As with any exercise routine you need to be smart and moderate as you enter in. The military needs to pay special attention to the redesign of its own footwear taking the exercising of the foot into account. In addition to the benefits to the soldier it may also translate into a huge costs saving. Weak feet mean prescription orthotics which is a huge cost to the system. Strong feet mean a costs savings.

*Sigh* yep I’m glad I was in the Army but I’m glad I’m out now. This is the typical thing though depending on your unit they may be more likely to not notice unless they drop the ban hammer hardcore. Odd, I wear and love five fingers because my joints got beat in the military and now that theres something that would ease the pain they move away from it. Its probably because someone doesnt like joes running around in monkey feet. I do hope they dont do it, for soldiers sakes. Maybe Vibram can do a talk with TRADOC or some brass and once they understand they may approve or atleast not care. Also interesting since I’ve been thinking a Vibram five finger boot would be some sweet kit.

Im a Drill Sgt. at Basic a basic training installation which falls under tradoc. I have not seen any memo to this effect yet and while I do not wear my VFF’s for PT with new trainee’s I do where my new pair of trail gloves, these shoes require more then just a glance to notice they are lacking in the cushion department. The military’s solution to 18 year old couch potatoes is to give them as much cushion and coddling as they possibly can.I see kids every day with ankle injuries and 3 inches of sole plus inserts plagued with shin splints caused by not knowing how to run and lack of physical activity.While a two mile run to a training might be the hardest run they ever have had I can not stay in shape running a 16 min two mile pace and working 12-15 hour days the last thing I want to do is work out on my own. with these shoes at least Im doing more good for my body then in regular shoes. I will continue to wear them till Im told by my 1sg I cant.

No one is suggesting replacing combat boots with VFF’s but I think my balance
and agility have greatly increased due to the use of these types of shoes.


People keep saying “Wear what your going to be using in combat” or something to this effect.

You must be stupid as all hell to being saying such a comment.

Army combatives. No shoes socks patchs or belt on. Last time I checked in combat wear wear all that plus: Helmet, IBA / IOTV, Boots and more.

The army doesnt train most soldiers in what they will be using. So you have no arguement there.

As for all the benefits of the shoe. Why not? Seriously if the army could actually come up with a legit arguement as to why not I would hae a problem.

But taking something away from the people that actually do the soldier part of the job not the paper job.
That is pretty stupid. Its like the higher ups making a specific SOP on how to arrange your IBA / IOTV. Right and left handled people don’t work the same people!

When will the Army officials have common sense?

Personally I dont like the way the vibrams looks, I hate the 5 toe look and feel. I bet if the resembled more traditional shoes it wouldnt of even bliped on the radar. Hopefully the NB Minimus get the feel right. You definetly cant tell that there minimalist shoes by looking at them. The Minimus is due out next month (March) and I cant wait to get me a pair. Im sure no one will be able to tell those are minimalist shoes, cause they look like normal ones. I have read the book Born to Run, did research on the Tarahumara and persistence hunting, as well as actually make the switch to barefoot running. I also made a made a class for NCOPD on barefoot/minimalist running and running form for our unit. I took out all opinions and listed only scientific facts. Lets says I made more than a few converts. If vibrams dont fit the bill of commercial running shoes, what does?

When I made to switch to minimalist/barefoot running (run barefooted on treadmills on the inclement weather days) I did so because I sucked at running and my high blood pressure kept me from running far; I could run about a mile before everything went blurry and I was light headed. I was a terrible heal striker, over strider, bad posture, etc.. runner. I had terrible shin splits and have for about 4 years; I run with sleeves. I got a couple videos on running form (I was never taught how to run) such as evolution running and pose running. I am now a fore/mid foot striker with quick turnover and very little vertical movement. In about 3-4 months since I made the switch I now run 2-5 miles every other day without a hitch. Sometimes I forgot I ran when I finish. The best part is no more shin splints.

I have been on profile for about 6 months due to my high blood pressure and have a run at own pace and distance profile. Now though my own pace and distance more than meets the Army standard and I recently completed my first half marathon (in vibrams no less). I should mention that I also have a pair of Nike Free which I absolutely loath. I was planning on using them on the pt test, but they hurt as much as my traditional running shoes. My profile ended and Im worrying about my PT test because I cant use my Vibrams. I hate putting cushions on my feet. Now if only my blood pressure would drop, its still too high.

This latest decision makes me loath the Army that much more. I dont care what anyone says I know what works for my body. After running in shoes that the Army deemed as sufficient for 8 years I had nothing but problems and my share of running injuries. Since Ive made the switch Ive run more often and effortlessly than ever before. I now know that you shouldnt feel pain in your legs and feet when your running unless your something wrong. If anything this is the most import part of minimalist shoes. Your not hiding bad form in the cushioning of your shoes, your forced to correct your form otherwise you’ll feel the pain.

Wow. Lots of passionate responses on this topic! A shame that some of the comments can sink to political mud slinging, but such is the nature of comment boards all over the web. 😉

Anyway, I appreciate EACH and EVERY service person in the military and while I think taking VFF/minimalist footwear out of the mix for aspects of training may be “silly”, it’s something that is being done for some reason and hopefully the issue can be revisited and reconsidered.

The GREAT thing about this topic is that it brings attention to VFF, other minimalist footwear options AND birthdayshoes.com. Good work on bringing the issue some attention, Justin!

The power of grass roots efforts. 🙂

I often go to the Patrick AFB fitness center. I have been told 2 times now that VFF are not allowed. For “safety reasons”. I was told that this was a Air Force rule. Does anyone know this rule or is the manager misinformed at this gym?

I kind of do agree with the Army’s opinion on the matter, but I think it’s a little too far to outlaw all minimalist shoes. I personally go barefoot as often as possible, and wear fivefingers when it’s too hot, too cold, or I am at work. But there are many situations where a sturdy shoe is necessary, like in a machine shop where one of my friends work. I am sure the military’s rules will change in time; we will just have to see.

So, I wear VFF’s and I am in the Army. I have worn mine for a while now and got the word of the ban not yesterday. The reasoning is that is provides an unfair advantage. I say, if it is unfair for me to run naturally, it is unfair for you to use cushioning. Why is it unfair? Is it only sold in super secret locations with a pass code? Absolutely not. Anyone can buy them which negates the unfair advantage theory. I am against their outlawing it but I have to follow the rules. One day big Army will listen and use logic.

The advantage you have wearing low-drop, split-toe or toe shoes (like VFFs) is a reduction in injuries and a better form. They don’t magically make your times better. “Traditional running shoes” *are* the cause of shin splints and twisted ankles, and the messed up biomechanics of running somewhat safely in them prevent most people from getting their best times, since they can’t properly exert their lower body effectively. So essentially the Army is promoting injuries and bad form. Go Army! Compare this in sharp contrast to the military’s stance on eye surgery. All branches have been very conservative on LASIK, not allowing it on pilots (or even pilot candidates), preferring PRK. Now we’re finding out the lack of data on long-term LASIK was not only significant, but as it fills out actually points to LASIK stability & health being inferior. The military seems to be lacking similar conservative, rational judgment of this caliber (to use a pun) with regards to the sacrosanct place they put the conventional running shoe. Their reverence for them is based entirely on pseudo-science.

Its not about performance, health …advantage, its about the show making 1 soldier look “unique” and thats not what basic training and the military is about. Its about being a team and ONE>……US army has nothing against five fingers. its about following the rules. Some people (non military and non law enforcement) think the rules are “for someone else” ….

The “unfair advantage” argument really baffles me. I do speedwork once a week. That gives me an advantage on the APFT over someone who never does any speedwork. Is my advantage “unfair”? Anyone can go to the track and do speedwork just like anyone can buy a pair of VFFs.

Last time I checked, I wasn’t racing the other Soldiers in my unit on the APFT, I was racing the clock. If I run a 13:00 and my buddy runs a 14:30, I am not going to get promoted ahead of him. If we are not competing, how can any advantage I have (from spending my money on VFFs or putting in extra time/effort) possibly be “unfair”?

If it would give someone a “unfair advantage” why not give everyone a pair so that we would have an unfair advantage over the enemy

Heh heh. Nice one, Jon. Apparently with the cancellation of further acquisition of Raptors or the second F-35 engine (which would have created competition between P&W and GE, resulting in massive technology gains, like it did for the F-15, F16, etc), the new trend in the military is to be fair towards potential adversaries… like the Chinese. Let ’em steal our secrets! What’s the point of an unfair fight? It’s not the winning that’s important, it’s the challenge! I bet you Schwarzkopf would take to VFFs in a military minute. Vibram should send him a pair.

Military training is not about I like this better than that …. or I want that other shade of green …

Military training is all about conformity and uniformity. It’s about following and abiding by the orders of your superiors. The day you become a general you will give orders and expect everybody to follow. That’s what Armies do. We call this “ONE” or “Unity”. Others also call it “The Chain of Command”

This does not mean that I agree with the commanding officers but there are the rules set in place and must be followed; that’s what we signed for. Long ago I had my 8 years in and while going through the ranks, eventually as an officer, I got certain things to change my way. That’s how it’s done.

As for VFF’s I certainly hope the US Military will eventually get to approve this as they will also find the many benefits from the footwear.

I am currently an E-5 in the Army and I want to know where anyone heard about this B.S. with VFF’s or minimalistic shoes being banned in AR 670-1 Para 14-3; other than in the post on this website. First off, instead of believing the rumor, look it up your self. That’s what I did. Second, the newest revisions to the REG states nothing about shoes other than Commanders can authorize Commercial running shoes which everyone already has. My wife is also in the Army and she works for Army Legal. She just had a case where a soldier was being charged with an Article 15 for wearing them and it was dropped because there is nothing in the Reg. Don’t have a 5000 response post about the same moaning when it isn’t true to begin with. I challenge all of you to prove me wrong. Thanks

Stupidy runs rampant in the US Army.. More Old Farts sitting beg=hind the desk in DC who probably themselves do not even do PT making decisions for the masses… We are not even allowed to wear No Show socks in out PTs… So you have these “standards” to adhear to, these same standards say, socks must be above the ankle. Which now if you look at any PT formation you will see some just above ankle, some up to the knee and the rest all varing lenghth in between makeing the whole formation look like a God Damned Soup Sandwich. No Show sock look so much more professional and up to date. Also these are the same “standards” which allow Florescent Orange and other very very blinding colors to be worn with the APFU. AS an Army who is so quick to use phrases such as, “Be Fluid”, or “In order to be viable, we must continue to change with the time and move forward”.
More BS from the oldies who continue to sit on their fat asses soakiing up as much money as they can past 20-25yrs service instead of retiring and unassing the seat for the next guy…

Hey young Buck… Read it again HERO. It states as you say, COMMERCIAL RUNNING SHOES…. The Vibram Five-Finger is not a Commercial RUNNING Shoe.. You challenged , I accepted… END STATE- YOUR WRONG


All you did was state a conclusion that in your opinion, VFFs are not commercial running shoes. You haven’t proven anything. What facts are you using as the basis for that conclusion?

by saying that they give you an unfair advantage would imply that the APFT is a contest which it is clearly not. I have been approached multiple times in the last few weeks here in Afghanistan by people who try to say that my VFF’s aren’t even shoes and go on claiming that they are forbidden in both the military and in theater over here. that is when I show them a physical profile given to me by the chief medical officer here flat out telling me to wear them. That usually shuts them up rather quickly.

If you had read more you see I am all about VFF, hell I own a few pair as does my wife… VFF are not a COMMERCIAL RUNNING shoes as of the date of the AR. The AR should be updated and VFF allowed in my opinion. BUT, as the regulation stands now, the VFFs are not authorized, that’s the point. VFFs are not advertised nor marketed as Running Shoes, hence the Army does not recognize them as such. Why your having such a hard time making that connection is beyond me. I don’t like the rule of the regulation as it pertains to VFFs but it sadly that is the way it is for now. I wish I can help you to understand what you read and comprehend but you seem so determind to find a loop hole that your blind to the facts.

I’m in the Army and I run in the VFF on my own, but not for PT. I didn’t do it just for the simple fact that VFFs are designed to be worn without socks, and the reg does say you have to wear socks with the PT uniform. When I was in the Marines, there was a general rule about eccentric items, which I take the VFFs as probably being interpreted as being eccentric. I have looked though and I can’t find this reg, the most official thing I have seen about wearing the VFFs with the uniform was in one of my Bn’s FRAGOs a few weeks ago, specifically stating that VFFs will not be worn with the Army PT uniform. However, that is a Bn regulation, not an Army wide one. The FRAGO does fall under the AR though, since it says commanders “may” authorize, but don’t have to authorize commercial running shoes, so they are blocking one kind of commercial running shoe. I used to run in a pair of Nike Frees, but I recently got the New Balance Minimus so I can run minimally in the Army PT uniform. My Bn saw them and asked about them and had no problem with them since they look just like any other running shoe. I’ll admit though, the color and look of the NB Minimus is a bit out there and I’m not a fan of it, but ah well, there are far more interesting and colorful looking shoes out there.

Here is an article about them in the army times. It says in the article that you can’t wear them during the pt test but if your commander approves you can wear them during pt.


The policy that your anonymous source forwarded referenced AR 670-1 paragraph 14-3, dated 03FEB2005.

Here is a link to AR 670-1, dated 03FEB2005 and paragraph 14-3 mentions nothing of toe shoes or minimalist shoes.


I’m in the Army and I run in fivefingers with no problems during PT test. I mentioned this to my commander and he told me to wear what I want. Remember if an NCO or Officer tells you you are wrong in accordance with AR whatever, it is their responsibility to show you in writing. With that being said always be respectful, do what they ask when told, and ask them to show you so you are “properly trained”

“”It looks like the Army is pulling the trigger and making a blanket ban on Vibram FiveFingers and other minimalist shoes in a policy released through BirthdayShoes.com today.””

Uniform and other policy updates in the ARMY is released via a medium called the “ALARACT message” or simply “ALARACTs”

These are found at:

The supposed ALARACT looks bogus as a 3 dollar bill…. everything looks wrong, font type, size, layout etc etc.

The Marine Corps currently stands with the policy that it is up to your commander. If he/she has a problem with the VFF’s then you can’t wear them for formation/testing. Individual PT is not an issue though. I have heard of some commands not allowing their Marines to utilize them however my current command has no problem with them whatsoever.

The weblink above just goes to the ALARACTs page in AKO (for those that are in DoD). There is no direct reference to an ALARACT addressing VFFs. I have personally spoken to the commandant of the PT school in Fort Jackson asking about this. Just like the Army Times article, he simply stated verbally that they are allowed for PT, but not for the APFT. This has yet to be published in writing anywhere, though. Therefore, as with all other things unwritten, uniform policies go to the local commander. We have to wear socks here in Alaska, so I wear socks with my VFFs, as I do every day to keep that stinky feet smell to a minimum. Take it easy, everyone.

Chaplain (Major), USA
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska

I was told to bring the regulation that states that I can wear my Merrell Trail Gloves to PT. However again like everyone I only found 14-3 and my commander said he has no problem with it. However My SGM told me not to wear them. Again I will do what I am told. And I will wear and run on my own with my Trailgloves and adhere to the orders on duty. I believe that it is better for me to run with them considering I was barefoot until I joined the army and the it is easier for me to run with minimalist shoes. One day it will change and being a leader myself I am doing my part properly educating my peers on the benefits of properly transitioning to the Near barefoot shoes without undermining the authority of the leaders appointed over me. As a system the Army works people tend to let ego get into the mix. Utilize the system don’t fight it. Proper education and proper channels, is the way to healthy change. Like transitioning to the VFF’s or Trailgloves it doesn’t happen over night.

I’m kinda sick of hearing these folks who say, “when ya signed up you knew you’d have to follow the army regulations.”

First of all, when I signed up, there was no such thing as Vibram FiveFingers shoes. There was, however, such a thing as barefoot running, it just wasn’t as widespread in the US as it is now.

Secondly, I refuse to do anything in the Army that I know will unnecessarily injure me – running in conventional shoes included. I have always struggled with terrible shin splints and knee & hip pain, until I changed the way I ran, which is in no small part due to running barefoot or in minimalist footwear. I no longer suffer from any of the injuries caused by regular running shoes.

That being said, should I simply follow the rules without question, despite KNOWING that it will destroy my body?

Nah, I’ll continue to fight this battle, until the Army changes its narrow-minded, and unscientific policy, or I’m forced out for not complying with stupidity.

In regards to “train as you fight”:
I spent a year in Afhghanistan working in a clinic that supported the Army Rangers, the most elite infantry force in the world. Everyday I would go to the gym with these folks and they would run, ruck and lift with VFF’s. They turned me on to them and I have never turned back.
Don’t make assumptions—forscom is generally behind the times.

I don’t think that this can be that accurate.

All branches of the military operate under different directives, but US Air Force recruits are issued boats with Vibram soles. While these are clearly not VFF, they come from the same company. I would presume the Army wouldn’t issue a directive against a company the DoD has approved for contracting.

Furthermore, USAF medical personnel have recommended shoes and transition methods to Airman. The operational Air Force allows all members to where whatever shoes they procure for themselves.

If this pertains to basic training, it is necessary that no one member stand out in the group, so all USAF recruits get their feet evaluated and shoes issued. Based on a psychological need, the military could not allow one or two recruits the option of a VFF.

So I am currently in Afghanistan. We were just told we can not wear the VFF for conducting PT. I just started wearing these and working towards getting used to them when this happened. The results were awesome. I use them for heavy weight lifting and running. I have suffered from severe back pain for the last 7 years as a result of my service. I noticed a change in the amount of pain I have day to day since wearing these shoes. They are fantastic. I also have many friends in the army that have had cronic issues with their shins and knees and since using these shoes and no longer suffer from these issues.

Does anyone know how we can get this army to change the mind of the people that make these ridiculous decisions. It seems absolutely stupid that they because they are scared of change and something new they will ban something that not only helps people physically but takes away from moral of the soldier. Moral is a huge thing as most of us know when deployed and they are taking that little thing away from us.

Why is it ok to wear basketball shoes while in PT uniform? I personally have no problem with it. They are structured to do that type of activity but do not classify as a “running” shoe. So why is this ok but a VFF or minimal shoe is banned?

I read something someone posted about training like we fight. That is a stupid comment when it comes to PT. So we should run in our boots then if you want to be that way. Come on, running in a pair of New Balance is way different than running in a pair of boots. I have to run in my boots from time to time and it sucks either way. But if you had ever done that you would know the difference. So the transition from a pair of VFF to boots for work is really not that big of a deal.

Bottome line is we need to do something to make them see that this helps people and will eventually save money in the end. The army is so wasteful and spend so much money on ridiculous things. I know of so many people that are now out of shape and fat because they can not run due to pain from running. So do we want fat unhappy soldiers that cannot run or do we want the most fit bad ass force in the world?

The VFF’s have been out on the market for a while now. Over a year ago I ran a marathon where I saw 3 different people running in them. Some people are just affraid of change. If people want to harp on something they should harp on the new PRT program. Ever since we started doing PRT I have had nagging injuries in my back, knees, and shoulders. I am a firm believer in how high school track teams warm up. Jogging, strecthing, and then plyometrics as a warm up.

I’m about to start a career in the Canadian Forces. My basic training starts in July and the only documentation I can find says that one’s shoes must be comfortable and goes on to emphasize the importance of flat or slight forefoot striking.

I intend to show up with my KSOs, KSO Treks, and maybe a pair of flats. See how it goes.

although I have vibram five fingers and love them, there are some situations where they are impractical. in the military they deal with a lot of heavy machinery and without the boots their feet could be in danger, because they are a minimalist they don’t offer a lot of protection

As an active duty soldier overseas, I can tell you that the latest guidance we received from our unit and a recent article published by Army Times, is that it is Commander’s Discretion for use of Vibram Five Fingers. We are not allowed to wear them for a PT Test but we are allowed to wear them for PT and Company runs, as long as they are not worn on dangerous terrain.

@ Brad.. if you are wearing the VFF for your everyday duty in the military your a dumb ass.. if your working wear work boots/ clothes.. enough said.

@S Neven, I would like to see this documentation that you found. Do you have a link? I would like to use it for ammo when I wear them and have my chain back me if they so wish.

Here is the link to the Army Times article.
I too have been facing flack for my wear of VFFs in the gym on base. I have only found one article that says you can’t wear them and it currently only applies to TRADOC instillations. The way I read everything I have found is that the wear of VFFs is up to your Commander, but they are not allowed to be used on the APFT. Further down the road, it may be that they are banned all together, but until then, I will be seen at the gym in my “Duck Shoes” as one of my Soldiers calls them.

@SSG Missel Some people a really ignorant. I get the same B.S. here.

I honestly don’t see what the problem with wearing them is as long as your not in a combat situation. They’re better for your feet and they give you more strength in your legs so you perform better when you wear the boots. As long as your doing physical training it should be fine.

The only rationale I can think of is, your PT isn’t training you to be an olympic runner, it’s training you to be effective in combat. You aren’t going to have 5 finger combat boots, you’re going to have to run in them more like you ran in your full sneakers. Solution? 2 pairs of sneakers, 1 pair for unit PT, 1 pair for personal PT.

I disagree with Pricilla. Yes we are not training to be olympic atheletes. But if you find something that makes your body stronger, faster and better you should be allowed to use that. That is as long as it is Legal. “No Drugs” had to throw that out there because I know some one would say it.

The army pays alot of money out for back injuries, knee injuries, hip injuries due to doing PT and daily training. We do not do PT to prepare for Combat we do PT to keep physically fit so we can handle the stresses that go along with training and combat. Healthy bodies create healthy minds and allows the body to adapt to adverse conditions.

The fact that a soldier can run 2 miles in running shoes or VFF in 10 or 12 minutes does not make him a Bad Ass. There are plenty of guys that can accomplish this but can barely do sit ups or pushups. Not saying these shoes will make you a bad ass, they will just help with overall health. However a healthy uninjured soldier is a combat multiplier. Nuff Said!

SSG Missel, I was under the same impression. Of all the policies I’ve read thus far, I extrapolated that it was Commander’s decision. However, I tried wearing them to a Division run this morning, only to be forced to sit out by the BDE command team, telling me that they are unauthorized. The Army contains a plethora of double standards.

2LT Vanderhorst- did anyone provide you any documentation or written policy that you could not wear them?

Several people have stated that it is up to the Commander. Where is the basis for this? Is it ok if a Commander says you can’t wear white running shoes, only black ones? I don’t see this as any different- Commanders are trying to prohibit a certain type of running shoe.

On the Marine side, there was a big article in the Marine Times last year on barefoot running/fivefingers, in fact that’s what turned me on to the whole thing. Looks like it started in the Recon community, but is quite popular throughout now. Per MARCORSYSCOM, the folks who control the uniform regulations, wearing of Vibrams is at the Commanders discretion so far as formation runs are concerned, and they must be worn with white socks for the PFT (Physical Fitness Test). Otherwise, fair game. Ran my PFT in Sprints yesterday, and one of the Marines timing it was standing around in his Bikilas.

im in the national guard. i just pt’ed not to long ago no one said anything till after we pt’ed about my “shoes”. i wore my comodo vff’s and an e6 asked me where i got them and i told him about them then another e6 walked up and said i was out of uniform because i didn’t have socks on. i don’t know if u know but vff’s are tight(especially the ones i have, might be because i have fat feet). i explained i couldnt put socks on with them and he retorted i was still out of uniform and i got reprimanded for it. personally i think its all bull s#!t shoes are shoes you should be aloud to wear what ever kind you want to to pt in and take the test as long as ur not stupid about it. its not like it gives me an advantage over someone.

5 monkeys are put in a cage with one banana. One monkey goes for the banana and you spray the other 4. You take out one monkey that was sprayed and replace it with a new monkey. When the new monkey goes for the banana the 4 monkey beat him. You then take out one monkey that was sprayed at the first and replace it the new monkey. When the new monkey goes for the banana and the other 4 beat him. You continue this until all the monkeys that were sprayed at the first time are gone. You will find that the 4 monkeys will still beat the new monkey not know why just knowing that is how it’s always been. Just like the Army, we don’t know why we can’t have better shoes proven by science we just know it’s not the way we have always done it.

This doesn’t surprise me. The Army tends to be archaic in its approach to fitness. I’d be interested in knowing if there is any study going on reference VFF, or if this was just the knee-jerk reaction to some senior leader who saw someone wearing these in the gym, and said, “WTF are you wearing?” I’d be interested in what LTG Hertling’s opinion on this is, since he seems to be a proponent for revamping our Physical Fitness programs. Also, the Army Medical Department ought to look into this as well, from a Physical Therapist and orthopedic point of view. If we’re not basing decisions off of science and medicine, than this is purely an aesthetic policy.

rob- do the rest of us in the military a favor and put on some socks. We are having a hard enough time getting to wear VFFs. The reg is crystal clear about socks- they are required. Not wearing socks just draws attention to the fact you are wearing VFFs and gives the chain of command another reason to dislike VFFs. Get some toe socks or cut the toes off of some regular socks and stay within reg. Thanks.

For all who care about this particular thread still, Department of the Army published an All Army Action (ALARACT) yesterday, 23 June 2011, directing the prohibition of all minimalist shoes in the Physical Fitness Uniform (I read it myself this morning). This goes beyond previous policy of disallowing them just for the Physical Fitness Test. The new requirement is that all shoes must be contained in one toebox. For me personally, this means that my PT test, scheduled for next week, is now a little more complicated, because I have to go buy new “shoes”, and second, I have to be in danger of hurting myself. Ironic, since I’ve been told that much of the staff in West Point’s Department of Physical Education has worn VFFs for some time. I love and hate the Army all at the same time. May God grant someone common sense sometime soon.

Just to be clear, the ALARACT does NOT prohibit ALL minimalist shoes. It states that shoes must have one compartment for all five toes. Nothing wrong with Merrells, Saucony Hattoris, or other minimalist shoes- only VFFs.

Oh, and the rationale is the toe-shoes detract from a professional military image.

Hopefully my next assignment will be one where I can do PT on my own.

Yes, kicking and screaming will the army be drug into the 21st Century. It is and has always been, the last service to adopt ANY new way of thinking. While many in the SPECOPS community have come out in favor of VFFs in physical training, such as the SEALs and many of the Green Berets, they are still the “special” soldiers and in many ways not bound by the stupidity of the regular Army. I can only hope that the recent retraction of the idiotic beret as the primary headgear for the Army is a sign of things to come with respect to “those damn toe shoes,” as I have heard some in my unit call them. (In a recent discussion with one of these people, they had never read anything about them or even seen a pair until I showed up at a nonofficial function in civilian clothes and my best KSOs on, yet had an intractable opinion that they are stupid and look stupid.) Some of these individuals in our unit’s chain of command also think they know best when it comes to soldiers with medical issues even though they cannot produce any advanced medical acreditation apart from basic first aid. Good order and discipline I can understand. And as it is the Army and a military organization, I understand the need for standards and a certain uniformity. This isn’t the happy-go-lucky world of Star Trek where anyone can wear any additional elements to their uniform they see fit. HOWEVER, when it comes to something that can improve a soldiers physical fitness ability and may even help correct or overcome an injury, why not listen to people who have the experience and knowledge to back up such a recommendation as allowing “them damn toe shoes” to be part of the PT uniform? This is the same ignorance that created a ten year disaster with the beret, which was and still is, for the regular army at large, a useless piece of clothing. When are the “old guard” going to either step aside and allow more forward thinking leaders to step up, or just get over their own ignorance and step into the 21st Century with the rest of us?

This is crap. The curmudgeons make policy and they are typically the least-fit, least-innovative and least willing to look at something new and — perhaps — better. This is a case-in-point. Tim stole my thunder with the Parable of the 5 Monkeys. That is the Army in a nutshell. One more reason I can’t wait to get out.

The army refused to give a reason because this is nothing but supporting a old persons desire that shoes meet old style needs. This is not about fitness, health or military decorum, but an attempt by the Army to put americans selling minimalist shoes out of business. Just like vegetarians are not served in army chow halls, just like recycling, true recycling is never found at an army base. THis is a war against a lifestyle that supports healthy living.

I use both every day. I have no issues. You have to break your feet into the shoes, not the shoes to your feet.

I have been recovering from a broken ankle. The only way I have been able to run and not be in pain is by wearing the vff. So my question now is, is there a look hole to get around this decision. Before the ban all of my higher ups gave me hell about wearing vff to the point that I went to the doctor and was put on a permanent profile just to get past the grief. So is the profile still effective or has it been voided out?

Every point that I have seen in here is very good. The first time I saw a pair of VFF’s was when I was in training at AIT to be a medic. I saw a guy after duty hours wearing a pair and he said that not only were they the most comfortable shoe that they had ever worn, but they also had helped him copiously with his run. Why the army will not let us use them is beyond me. I have seen people wearing shoes with wavy soles “that help with form and toning of the muscles” as well as seen people in Nike Shox. There isnt a shoe that i havent seen come into my unit except a pair of VFF’s. Personally i think that it is rediculous that they would even concider banning the shoes when all i have heard is postive feedback about them. When i asked one of my NCOs why we cannot wear them he told me they would give the wearer an unfair advantage in the PT test, so i think instead of banning the shoe then they should issue them to everyone like they do with boots. its simple, you go in, get fitted, and then you are set. But what do i know, im just a young buck that doesnt fully understand the mechanics of the human body (even though i am a medic, i guess some general that has been infantry his whole life understands more than i do). Either way, the physics behind the shoe dictate that it is much safer and bennifitial to run in them. need proof? how about this, when you run or walk your toes naturally spread apart to help absorb the shock, and when you are confined to a “commercial running shoe” you do not have the ability for that to happen because of the confined space that your feet are in. at which point you are hindering your performance. to top it all off running bare foot decreases your chances of getting shin splints (which are a commonly growing problem in the military) all the VFF’s do is make it so it is like running barefoot, but your feet are still protected. I am all for the use of them, and when the higher ups decide that i can use them not only in training, but also in a PT test, i will be the first person in line to buy a pair.

Well duh, no wonder we’re having so much trouble in the middle east. How are we supposed to win a war if we can’t wear trendy shoes that make us look like blue footed apes? Doesn’t the army know that wearing VFF’s doubles your vert, makes you run a 3.4 40yd dash and a marathon in an hour and a half? It’s definitely a bunch of old men in lazy boys making these decisions because no rational person would ever decide not to use these. I mean even though most of us were never in the army they should still listen to us. We are tax paying runners and we know what’s best for everyone else because it’s whats best for us. They probably don’t let them wear sweatbands and drink Gatorade either. This is just plain ridiculous. If I was in the army I’d resign if I couldn’t use my VFF’s. Don’t they see the advantage of having your toes available? Imagine if you got your hands blown off, you could still shoot your gun and pull the pin on grenades with your toes. They’re completely illogical. I’ll bet before we know it the govt will be telling us civilians how to run and taking away the 5k’s that we all train for so hard. IT’S AN OUTRAGE!!!!!!

Vibram makes a great product on any shoe. But this particular design of footware proves to be impractical in the field and during physical training.

The persons that tend to endorse minmalist products typically have a history of foot problems, therefore they should think twice about making a career out of the military.

No one wants a whiner in the field.

the reason that I was told was it is a disadvantage for the personal not wearing these shoes and that it help you run more natural and that is cheating????? how can u cheat at running?????

If what is said is true that converting back to regular shoes from Vibrams causes pain and discomfort then the Army is in the right to do this. Soldiers won’t wear vibrams to combat, but boots which are along the same line as shoes. So, having soldiers convert back with only decrease their efficiency and ability.

This is bull. The Army has no good reasoning on these shoes. When it comes to common sense, the army is dumb founded. Its just like the army to push something new away before giving it a shot. Im a PFC. And would like to strengthen my ankles and stability. so I was leaning towards purchasing these shoes. but then got told they are unauthorized. what difference does it make on pt shoes. I didnt kno we were were walking down a runway in pts showing off our shoes, or we were going to the board in pts and pt shoes. it shouldnt matter what the shoes look like or perform like as long as the shoes are comfortable for the soldier and the the soldier can perform well in them. i had a pair of reebok zigzags, and was told i had to get rid of them because of a couple small tears. the shoes were still in outstanding shape. but because they had a couple small tears i had to get rid of them, because thats the army standard. once again, i didnt know we were walking down a runway showing everything off. its not like we are doing pt in a mall or a parking lot for the world to see. its mostly around companies, and motor pools. so why would it matter who sees our pt shoes. i support these VFF all day everyday. if you look these up online you cant find any negative comments about them and why? because people enjoy them. it builds muscles, strengthens ankles, better stability. and the army doesnt want to give this a try to possibly better their soldiers???

I guarantee that the terrorists don’t have shoe restrictions. I feel one of the weakest points in our military is the paperwork, regulations, and rules that have no bearing on actual “war training”. It bogs the system down. (kinda the opposite of minimalist / nimble really)

I would Think That OUR SOLIDERS would want EVERY ADVANTAGE POSSIBLE.I do, Yes i am a veteran. To Bad Army Brass Doesn’t See It This Way.Talk To Your Civic Leaders,Neighbors,Family &friends,Church members. put the word out

As an infantry lieutenant colonel I can only apologize on behalf of my leadership. All they seem to care about are fashion not function. These are the folks who brought us the ACUPAT (Army non-camouflage uniform pattern).How much money did they waste converting everything from ACU and then to MultiCam once they realized their mistake? They also brought us the short sleeve reflective but road-gray PT shirt that wicks moisture away from your body so you can’t cool off when you’re running in hot weather. Now they are making us buy the new Army Service Uniform that no Greyhound bus driver or bell hop would be caught dead wearing.

Or how about the Army PT shorts with no pockets? I guess it made sense on the drawing board that people wouldn’t need pockets on running shorts (except to carry ID card or single car key which fits in that dumb little leg slot). The trouble is, the uniformity nazis are always forcing Soldiers to wear PT uniforms in garrison (God forbid they wear their own clothes!) So then you have to go around all day with no pockets. Then there was the time all the bald guys in my unit got second-degree sunburn on their heads because head gear isn’t authorized with the Army Physical Fitness Uniform so they were forced to remove their baseball caps even though they were laboring in the hot sun. No problem, the US tax payer/VA will pay the skin cancer bills.

Speaking of the hot sun, try standing on a 100F parade field for hours with a black wool beret on your head. Another clever idea.

The US Army beat the Nazis in World War II, then spent the next 70 years trying to become the Nazi Army. The Nazis were the most uniform, disciplined, doctrinaire and rigid army in history. That’s why the less disciplined citizen-soldiers of the US Army kicked their ass by improvising, adapting, and using whatever worked. Banning VFFs may not seem like a big deal, but it’s symptomatic of the kind of idiocy I’ve struggled against since I joined up in 1984. Take heart, soon Generation X will be running the US Army once these Baby Boomers retire.

Wow, and I thought my Marine Corps had the market cornered on dumb regs. I ran my 3-mile PFT in June with no shoes on, with my buddy who was in Chuck Taylors. We both finished at around 17:10, at Camp Pendleton. A SgtMaj saw me, and told me that if I could beat him with no shoes on, he would buy me a six pack. That was the best Modelo I’ve had in a minute.

i agree with the lt col. im a PFC currently deployed with the army and ive been preaching everything hes said.

i want to wear them as a letter carrier with post office but fear backlash. also which minimalist shoes should i use: to not slip on wet pavement inc steep driveways and stairs, pivoting often, working fast, 7 miles a day, slippery metal foot step on truck, driving truck, while looking at mail, carrying heavy loads and are warm enough in winter? and also padded enough for pavement?

Again so many people want to have something to argue about or dispute. To inform you, I am a member of the US Army who was a former Drill Sergeant and current Platoon Sergeant, and like many of you my feet are vivid users of the VFF’s. A couple years ago there was an article in the Army Times showing the then SGM of the Army wearing a pair of the VFF’s and the pic of him running in them during the PT hours. Now a couple years later there is a new change of how we directed to use certain shoes for training. Not knowing who makes these decisions but it is something that has a large community in the Military thinking why cant we use them during the APFT. Being Infantry there is always talk about doing PT on your own and being fit for when we need to be on the battlefield. That I do agree with, just like I agree with the military should do more workouts that are proven with results like P90X, Insanity, etc. The Physical Fitness Training curriculum has changed to the new PRT program. If you do the program correctly it has proven facts that it works, but here I am walking around in a pair of VFF’s and they work but can not use them in the military for a test I train for in Running. For those who claim that we train as we fight and fight as we train, that is a true statement until a certain point. For the 17 years of my service I have never ran on a dirt road or any type of surface where I am not aware of any harm in front of me, but the military gives me a PT Uniform that includes a long and short sleeve shirt, a jacket, shorts, and sweat pants. Last I checked I did not wear my PT uniform when I was in Iraq and Afghanistan conducting missions while out in sector. Now remember I train in my Combat Fatigues when I run around with a weapon in my hand, but for PT I put on a different uniform all together. So before you say something so absurd like we train as we fight, why not conduct PT in the shoes if they are proven to be better for you, since that is what the new PT program is to display. Since I been wearing the shoes my posture has improved, the knee pain I been experiencing for the past 4 years is minimizing, and the injuries I have are not happening as much. If the military has an issue with a shoe that makes you a better performer put it to the test. Do not use Basic Training as this model (Only because there are so many new recruits that do not know how to run, and in BCT you are learning this in a new manner) but use a few units at Ft. Bragg, Ft. Stewart, Ft. Carson, and Ft. Lewis to just name a few. Compare the results since each post provides a different challenge to the body. Lets move forward with this and not backwards.

It’s pretty obvious why… Minimalist running mechanics are different then shod mechanics. You can’t run in vibrams for an entire year then transition to combat boots the very next day when you deploy. It won’t work.

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