I know I’ve been talking about feet a lot recently, but it’s the time of year when I start getting out and about in the woods more often. And this time, unlike previous years, I’ve decided to take my Five Fingers with me. Normally I would wear a light hiking boot, or more recently a minimalist boot. Despite my knowledge and experience, I was impressed with the difference the Five Fingers made.The amount of flex that the human foot should have is really impressive. And when you add the ankle into that, there is an incredible amount of motion the foot and ankle can go through that will minimize or completely eliminate knee and hip movement. Without this hip movement, the knee, hip, and even spine have to make up for this lost motion. Can you say joint problems???
So what made this hike different from the last one? Big whoop Ben you already ran your mouth on and on about this before…
My last hike was all over pretty level terrain. Yes there was elevation change and there was a little bit of rock hoping and plenty going up rocks like stairs, but all of the footing was pretty level. Where I had to place my foot was either a well worn trail or a mostly flat rock. Similar to walking on a sidewalk or going up man-made stairs.
This hike was completely different. Much of it was over large rocks about the size of my head. I have done hikes like this plenty of times in minimalist shoes, in light hiking boots, and minimalist hiking boots. The hike was completely different in the five fingers. These trails in my other footwear were never much fun.
Honestly, I didn’t have to pay nearly as much attention to where I put my feet as I would have in any of my usual hiking footwear. My foot just shaped around the rock and my ankle flexed as needed and I could pretty much walk normally.
I’ve spent a decade in minimalist footwear, and quite a lot of time running around barefoot. I went a whole summer where I refused to wear shoes unless I was at work. I have to wear them there. It was fun and I even got thrown out of a couple places. But even after this, I was shocked at what a difference hiking in the Five Fingers makes! Most of my barefoot time was in urban areas.
My Five Fingers are the trail version with more tread on the bottoms. I was really impressed with how well they let my foot flex and also how much traction they provided over a variety of surfaces. If you’re not used to hiking in footwear like this, i.e. you don’t have well developed foot structure and musculature, START SLOWLY!
Going straight out of the gate into a 6 mile hike like this could leave you crippled for a week from soreness and possibly even injury. It may even be possible you’ll end up in too much pain to even finish the hike. Transition slowly, but once you do, I think you’ll be pleased with the results too!
The only major downside to Five Fingers is that you can really feel all the different textures and temperatures you experience barefoot. Oh, and sometimes things still get in your shoe… But I still love ’em!