Longhand Product Review: Vibram Five Fingers KSO

Do you remember a couple of weeks ago when Phillip did a review of the Vibram Five Fingers Classic for me?  Well, at the time, I was sad because I had been through a debacle trying to get my hands on a pair of Vibram Five Fingers (VFF) KSO that actually fit me.

Vibram_FiveFingers_KSO

It all started about 3 months ago when I ordered a size 38 for myself.  I am a professional shoe-buyer, and I always wear a size 38 in European sizes.  Don't be fooled like I was...just because you think that you wear a 38 in VFF's doesn't mean that you really do.  When they arrived, I nearly cried when I could barely pull them over my toes.  After fighting with them for 10 minutes, I resolved myself to the fact that my feet were too large for the size 38 VFF's.

I promptly returned the size 38's to City Sports where I had ordered them online, and then I cried again when I found out that the size 39's were backordered indefinitely.

I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

In the meantime, I purchased a pair of Nike Free's.  Due to my previous IT band/knee/leg/calf issues, I was a little concerned about wearing anything with no "support" by way of squishy insole.  I must also mention that I am an overpronator, and I have relatively high arches.  In order to transition a little more smoothly in to the Vibram Five Fingers (and because...well...they were cute as hell), I bought these Nike Free's:

womens-nike-free-5-2

I had fully intended on training with these and wearing them to the Disney Princess 1/2 at the beginning of March, but it turned out that they gave me MONSTROUS blisters on my baby toes.  Like full-toe blister action.

It was pretty freakin gross.

So, I didn't completely bail on the Nike Free's, but I decided that for the sake of the future use and appearance of my mutated baby toes, I needed to stop running in them.  I continued wearing them for lighter workouts and general walking around type stuff.

Then, 2 weeks later (much to my surprise), My Gazelle presented me with a shiny new pair of KSO's.  In size 36.  THIRTY SIX...you know...since the previous size 38 had just been too small.

Men.

(but they were uber-cute in all of their tiny little 36ishness)

We returned the 36's promptly and requested an exchange.  I wasn't taking any chances.  I asked for a size 40 this time.

Then we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Finally!  They arrived last week (cue confetti & fanfare)!!!

I wore them for the first time last Friday.  To work.  They didn't match my outfit at all, but I just went with it.  My boss kept looking at my toes and shaking his head.  The KSO's got more attention than any pair of 4" stilettos that I've rocked in my life.

Here are some notes that I took throughout the day.

KSO NOTES

So the first observation that I made was that everything was cracking when I walked.  It's possible that this always happens, but I was just hypersensitive to it because I was paying specific attention (due to trying out the KSO's).  In the end, it turns out that nothing snapped in 1/2, so all is good.

It did concern me that my big toe was hurting.  I'm clumsy.  I've broken my big toe on my left foot umpteen times.  There are only two instances which I actually remember:

  1. When I was 16, while running full-speed to the microwave so I could rescue my Spaghetti-O's that were about to blow up, I janked my toe on the footstool.
  2. At 26, my ex-husband dropped an entertainment center on said big toe.  A week before our wedding.  Should've taken that as a sign.

Due to all of the breakage, the toe is much larger than normal, and has a strange bend-to-the-left quality to it that was never there before.  I've actually been considering going to see a podiatrist about it because my running schedule over the past year seems to have further aggravated a persistent ingrown toenail problem with that crazy mixed up toe.

In any case, something about the total immersion nature of the toe sleeve was causing me pain in that toe.  Not debilitating pain, but just one of those "hey...here I am...yeah me...you know...your mutated toe?"

It didn't stop me from running a little bit in them during my lunch hour, though.  My first observation was that I felt naked.  Vulnerable.  As if I really was barefoot, and everyone was staring at my naked toes (shudder).

I honestly thought that I would be all heels in these things when I ran.  I have a history of heel striking, and all I could envision was myself smashing the treadmill with my heel on each stride, and everyone would be staring at me because I was running so loudly.

Didn't happen.

I was very comfortable.  I didn't feel heavy-footed, and I didn't heel strike.  In fact, I was striking on the mid-foot, and I didn't have to work for that landing like I do when I'm wearing running shoes.  I could definitely feel the difference, and I could also feel that I was working different muscles than I normally would.

This sounds very cliche and kind of psycho, but I could feel my "running" muscles being used and getting stronger.  Since I'm not a natural runner (and I didn't really "run" until I was in my late 20's), I don't KNOW how to run.  My body does not naturally know how to engage the correct muscles.

I can honestly tell you that running in the KSO's felt good.  Running never feels good to me, but in the KSO's, I didn't feel like I was fighting myself to get the right landing so that I would strike on my midfoot.  It just happened.  Naturally.

I've heard some chatter about people's calves being sore from wearing them, but I didn't have any issue with that.  But, then again, I have calves large enough for most men to be jealous of.

Picture 1

I'm going to be wearing the KSO's when I run.  They feel better to me than any other running shoe that I've worn, and I feel like my body will benefit from wearing them.  I'll let you know in a few weeks how it's going.

Has anyone else tried Vibrams?  I'd like to hear about your experience!

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