Usually, I like to save money on stuff. I visit slickdeals about every day, just in case something I need (or will need soon) shows up on sale. Every once in a while though, I find myself spending too much money on something just because it’s awesome.
Case in point: my Vibram FiveFingers Bikilas. Normally, $100 for a pair of running shoes is NOT out of the question. When you consider that the actual materials in this shoe are pretty dang close to just a pair of rubber socks, $100 seems overpriced. Nevertheless, I love these shoes.
My dad has run quite a few 10k races in his day, and done well with them. My brother runs marathons. My legs are the same as theirs, with one small difference: I have a bent bone or two in my foot that collapses my arch and severely overpronates. This means if I run very often or very far, my knees start killing me. Ankle braces and knee braces help a bit, but are such a pain to put on that they keep me from running. (seriously!)
Then one day I saw a friend of mine in toe shoes. I asked him about them, and ended up ordering a pair myself. They’re awesome.
I don’t have the time or desire to spell it all out here, except to say this: these shoes have almost nothing to them, and are designed to let your foot act as if it were barefoot, just without all the sharp pokey things in your sole. You know, the way God intended your feet to work. Wear them for a bit and you discover parts of your feet that you never knew could be sore before. Then your muscles and joints and things strengthen up a bit, and finally you end up running on the balls of your feet rather than your heels. The end result is less impact, less joint pain, and the pleasure of feeling like you’re running barefoot (minus, of course, the pokeys). For me, it means my first run in these suckers was met with no knee pain. Beautiful!
The good and the bad: All the attention your feet get in toe shoes could be good or bad depending on how you look at it. The only real problem I found is this: if you wear them barefoot, they stink. A lot. Solution: when they start to smell (and they will!), drop a effervescent denture cleaner in each one, soak in warm water overnight, and then toss them in your washing machine and air dry (hint, don’t get the mint-smelling ones. Mint feet are gross). I hear wearing toe socks can help too, but that gives you less of the barefoot feel. Your call.
Bottom line is: yes, they cost more than Sketchers. But they may save you a ton of joint pain, your feet will gradually start working the way God intended again, and people will think you’re cool, unless you live in an area where they’re already all the rave (in which case you’ll just look like a trendy jerk. But a trendy jerk with healthy feet at least!) My recommendation to you is get some, but make sure you read about the dangers of having too much fun in them too quickly! (see the link below)
For more on barefoot-style running and minimalist footwear, feel free to check out birthdayshoes.com. Caution: the info is great, but advertising abounds!