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Posts Tagged ‘Vibram FiveFingers’

Does the Military allow Minimalist Running Shoes for PT?

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

army-platoonI began my trail running days in the sandhills of Ft. Bragg, NC and have been running off road ever since.  I also began deteriorating my knees by jumping out of airplanes at Ft. Bragg, NC, which has lead me to only running in minimalist shoes today.  Since minimalist running has kept me trail running with less pain I wondered if others in the military, specifically those who are Airborne qualified and have some of the same knee issues as I do, had begun minimalist running.

I know the largest organization in the United States is slow to change, but I found that some soldiers were finding ways around the regulations to wear Vibram Five Fingers and other minimalist running shoes while others were being told flat out that they could not PT (physical training) wearing them.  FM 20-21 states that soldiers must wear white ankle socks with no logos while conducting PT.  The first loophole some soldiers point to is that the FM doesn’t state that soldiers must wear socks, just that if they do, the socks must cover their ankles and have no logo.  Since most commanders will not honor loopholes, some soldiers have been wearing Injinji socks which fit in Vibram FiveFingers to cover their ankles.  Another part of PT regulation states that soldiers may not wear athletic shoes that are “trendy” or “faddish.”  For this reason many base commanders have banned Vibram FiveFingers and other minimalist running shoes completely.  I somewhat understand the reasoning because sometimes if you give soldiers an inch they will take a mile; and being in the correct uniform is important for building unit cohesion.  However, making a regulation based on “trendiness” may be constraining soldiers who legitimately need to wear minimalist running shoes to avoid injury.  According to the Army Times, even Lt. Cmdr. John Mahoney, a Navy doctor and physical therapist says, “Vibram FiveFingers are the best thing out there for rehabilitating lower extremity injuries.”

In a typical flip floppy manner, the Army has also banned minimalist running shoes on the PT test because they believe the shoes may be “unfair.”  So if they are deemed unfair then they must help soldiers run better in training, right?!  Then why not let soldiers wear them?  This may be a case in which the military must make a blanket policy to cover the well-being of the whole instead of allowing Commanders make their own SOPs (standard operating procedures).  The same Army Times article quotes Dr. Steven Pribut, a podiatrist and sports medicine expert in Washington, DC, who specializes in working with runners saying, “I’m seeing a lot more injuries from people wearing them.  It’s not a problem with the shoes themselves; it’s mostly a function of people doing too much too soon.”  Military personnel are definitely susceptible to over doing it because they are all taught to push their bodies to the limit and to ignore pain.  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 today.  The new policy amends the current policy which states that Commanders “may authorize the wear of commercial running shoes,” as it goes on to say, “Commercial running shoes do not include minimalist shoes, lightweight track/road running flats, racing spikes, toe shoes, or shoes that simulate barefoot running.”  This is coming from the same organization that makes it’s soldiers run and walk 10s of miles in combat boots.  Oh well, there you have it, Army personal are now not authorized to wear minimalist running shoes during PT.

I believe because of the rapid growth in popularity of minimalist running the Army is making a rash decision without doing their research.  They even have a Marine study that was done 6 months ago which studied fitting recruits with motion control, stability, or support running shoes would have an effect on injuries.  The study assigned a control group, of 432 Men and 257 Women, with only stability running shoes.  They then formed an experimental group, of 408 Men and 314 Women, who were fitted with the correct running shoe based on plantar shape.  The study said the incidence of injury after the 12 weeks of basic training had no difference between the two groups.  If types of traditional running shoes don’t increase injuries, then why do they believe minimalist running shoes will?  I understand that soldiers are the military’s greatest assets, but banning something that may decrease injuries is absurd.  Maybe the military should start by developing an “Army issued” minimalist running shoe based on their doctors’ recommendations.  This would most likely increase the available fighting force while allowing soldiers to train as their body needs them too.  The Army ruined my knees, the least they can do is try to prevent that from happening to the rest of the Men and Women serving our county.  I guess for now, just like everything else in the military, you simply have to play the game, whether you agree or not.  Thank you all for your continued service.

Christmas Gifts for Trail Runners

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

santa-runningCyber Monday is going to be as hot as it sounds, so we’re here to make life easier.  No more pushing users, crashing virtual shopping carts, or waiting in long pageview load lines this holiday season.  Here are three gift ideas for your favorite Trail Runner.  Or your boss, who is probably also a trail runner.  Like a boss.

The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running:  If you want in print then this is the book to get.  Nancy Hobbs tells you everything you need to know about trail running.  Nancy is an original trail runners who has been an ambassador to the sport for many years.  She is the Executive Director of the American Trail Running Association, a writer for both Running Times and, and a chairperson for the Mountain Ultra Trail Council.  She knows what she’s talking about in this book.  Learn from an expert.  trail-running-fuel-belt

Fuel Belt:  Keep your trail runner running by giving them a fuel belt.  In the belt they can carry water, GU, and toilet paper.  The toilet paper is more for comfort than fuel though.  This one is tight fitting and has space for 4 water bottles along with two pockets.  Perfect for any runner traveling more than 10 miles and not too bulky for those 25 milers.

vibram-five-fingers-womens-kso-trekVibram Five Fingers:  These are the hip, new ‘Tickle me Elmo’ for the running community this Christmas.  They are sometimes difficult to find in retail stores but they are here on the Internet.  So powerful.  If your trail runner hasn’t tried running in Vibram Five Fingers yet I guaranteed they have thought about it.  If you want to get them the gift that they want but would never buy themselves, then this is it.

We hope this helps.  We based this list on items that we currently don’t own but would love to have.  Hear that Grandma?  We’ll keep supplying you with ideas this holiday season as we survey how much we really don’t have.  Window shopping is fun!

Men’s Vibram FiveFingers Minimalist Running Shoes

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

At Outdoor Retailer this year Vibram had a lot of action at their booth.  Probably because of the surge in popularity that they have seen lately.  The reps from Vibram wouldn’t let me take any pictures (must be some top secret stuff), but they did show me all of the new styles along with the old ones and gave me some information to take home with me.

Vibram Five Fingers is a revolutionary footwear design that allows our anatomy to work naturally and move more freely.  According to Vibram, Five Fingers is footwear that can actually help make the foot healthier, that can strengthen muscles in the feet and lower legs, improve range of motion and increase sensory reception import to balance and agility.  Vibrams make running safer and healthier, bnew-picturey encouraging forefoot strike and a more natural running form that creates less impact on the knees, hips and lower back.  After running for many years and being injured, Vibram has my attention.  Whether you are trail running, road running, or cross-training, Vibram Five Fingers has a style for you.  Here are the styles that Vibram has in store for Men to go running in:

NEW Men’s Vibram FiveFingers Komoto Sport (pictured left): (MSRP $100) Vibram FiveFingers has raised the intensity with the Vibram FiveFingers KomodoSport.  This aggressive multisport design inherits what we love about the KSO with functional improvements that appeal to the most active fitness enthusiast.  For the first time ever, Vibram introduces a stitch-free, seamless 2 mm footbed to reduce friction.  Heel and instep hook-and-loop closures help secure the stretch nylon upper to the contours of your foot-just like a second skin.  The KomodoSport wouldn’t be complete without a 4mm Vibram 4mm TC1 performance rubber outsole which provides the grip and protection needed for a variety of cross training activities.  These shoes are great for running and fitness.Vibram Five Fingers KSO Men's

Men’s Vibram FiveFingers KSO: ($85.00) Over the past two years, the KSO has become the most popular model for men due to its comfort and versatility.  A thin, abrasion-resistant, stretch nylon and breathable mesh upper wraps your entire forefoot to “Keep Stuff Out,” and a single hook-and-loop closure helps secure a fit.  A non-marking 3.5mm Vibram TC1 performance rubber outsole is razor-siped for a sure grip, and a 2mm EVA insole enhances plating protection and comfort.  These shoes are great for light trekking, climbing/bouldering, running, fitness, after sports, water sports, yoga and pilates.

vibram-five-fingers-sprint-mensMen’s Vibram FiveFingers Sprint: ($80.00) The lightweight and open design of the Sprint has made this model a long-time favorite.  Adjustable hook-and-loop closures across the instep and around the heel deliver a comfortable, secure fit.  A thin stretch nylon fabric comfortably follows the contour of the foot.  And a flexible, non-marking 3.5mm Vibram TC1 performance rubber sole is razor-siped for improved flexibility and slip resistance.  These shoes are great for climbing/bouldering, running, fitness, after sport, water sports, yoga and vibram-five-fingers-bikila-menspilates.

Men’s Vibram FiveFingers Bikila: ($99.95) Unlike any running shoes on the market today, the Bikila was their first model designed specifically for a more natural, healthier, and more efficient forefoot strike.  While many folks have been running in their Vibram FiveFingers for years, the Bikila is their first model designed specifically for a more natural running experience.  Built on an entirely new platform, the Bikila features a Dri-Lex covered 3 mm polyurethane insole (thickest under the ball) and a 4 mm anatomical pod outsole design that offers more plating protection, and distributes forefoot impact without compromising important ground feedback essential to a proper forefoot strike running form.  A more athletic padded collar and topline, a single hook and loop closure, 3M reflective surfaces, and tear resistant TPU toe protection finish off this breakthrough design.  These shoes are good for running and fitness.

Check out more Vibram FiveFingers Men’s styles.

Or check out some of the Women’s Vibram FiveFingers styles.