Science, Tech, Math › Social Sciences Vibram Five-Fingers Footwear Review Share Flipboard Email Print Getty Images / Philartphace Social Sciences Ergonomics Psychology Sociology Archaeology Economics Maritime By Chris Adams Engineering Expert B.I.D, Industrial and Product Design, Auburn University Chris Adams is a human factors engineer who writes about ergonomics and has 11 years of experience in the field. our editorial process Chris Adams Updated October 14, 2019 The Vibram FiveFingers shoes take on a tricky challenge. Body mechanics can get quite complicated. Especially when it all starts with your feet. The Vibram FiveFingers shoes are a minimalist or "barefoot" shoe that improves your body mechanics by letting your footwork the way it should and not the way it does in a shoe. The result is a great ergonomic advantage with improved balance, agility, and grip. They may look funky but they are awesome. Why It's Different The Vibram FiveFingers are a "barefoot" shoe. That is they try to mimic going barefoot while providing the protection of a shoe sole. They differ from other "barefoot" or minimalist shoes by giving you individual toe pockets. So you not only have a thin, responsive sole that lets you feel the ground beneath you, but you also have the use of your toes. That may not seem like much, but you'd be amazed at how much your pinkie toe can do if you let it. There is a larger debate going on whether shoes are ergonomic or healthy. There is a lot of evidence to support both sides, but we've seen what this argument can do to your pinkie toe. Don't take it out on the pinkie toe. The problem with most shoes is that they push your outer toes in. So your pinkie toe is almost never used. It may be small but it can do a lot. The Vibram FiveFingers not only let you use your pinkie toe but they kind of force you to. By spreading out your toes, the Vibram FiveFingers give you greater control at your base. This translates to better balance, agility and body control. It can also lead to improved posture and less hip, back and shoulder pain if you suffer from those. To make things even better the Vibram FiveFingers are topped (or bottomed) with the legendary Vibram rubber sole perfected for rock climbing and other such activities. This means the shoes fit your foot like a second skin and have an incredible grip. It is almost like having gecko feet. Does it deliver? These shoes deliver everything they promise. It takes very little time to get used to wearing them. And once you start you might find it hard to stop. Your body mechanics will improve. And with that so may your health and confidence. Not bad for a pair of shoes. Beneficiaries The Vibram FiveFingers shoes can benefit anyone who has learned to walk upright on two feet. Others who can benefit from this ergonomic shoe are: Runners/WalkersSwimmersFishermen/womenAcrobatsHomo Sapiens Summary The Vibram FiveFingers shoes are ingenious, well built and a phenomenal personal ergonomic enhancement. They improve your body mechanics at the starting point, your feet. And everything benefits because of that. Balance, agility and body control are all enhanced. Your hips and spine have better alignment and your heel strike (a major cause of back pain) is better. The Vibram sole on the FiveFingers is incredibly responsive and provides unbelievable sure-footedness. The Vibram FiveFingers are available with as an open-top slip-on, an open-top with straps, a mesh top with straps and a neoprene (wetsuit material) with straps giving you an option for almost any activity. No snow skiing model yet. Getting into them the first few times is a little difficult, but you quickly learn. Keep in mind that the Vibram FiveFingers do not offer much protection on the top. The sole is tough and as puncture resistant as any sole. But there is not much on the top the protect your foot. But it is more than actually walking barefoot.