How FiveFingers Work

A Safe Transition to Minimalist Shoes


For over 10 years, Vibram FiveFingers has spawned a recurring public debate:

How does a minimalist/barefoot shoe work?


The truth is, there isn’t a single correct approach—it’s probably more complicated than that. However, as one of the prominent leaders in this movement, here’s our take.


We believe that moving and running in Vibram FiveFingers can make us healthier, happier, and more connected to our bodies. We hope the following information will help you discover how YOU can safely explore the joys of natural movement.


Wearing Vibram FiveFingers for fitness training, water sports, running, or just for fun will make your feet stronger and healthier —naturally. While we do love our Vibram FiveFingers, we don't believe it is the only footwear you will ever need. There are many times when you need the protection and security of a shoe or boot. Like all things in life, there is a balance. Vibram FiveFingers provide a healthy alternative to traditional footwear. Following the tips below will allow you to make the switch to Vibram FiveFingers more comfortably, safely and effectively.




Listen to your body!

Switching to Vibram FiveFingers from traditional shoes is a transition that may take time. For some, it is a matter of weeks, for others, months, and for a few, it could be a year or more. Much is dependent on your foot type, the activities you’re using Vibram FiveFingers for, and the amount of pronation you experience. Listen to your body, and have patience.


Stop if your arches or the top of your foot is hurting, or if anything else hurts!

Remember to transition slowly to Vibram FiveFingers to build strength in your lower legs and feet and to minimize discomfort. An adjustment period is normal, and any discomfort should decrease as your body begins to adapt. When running in Vibram FiveFingers, sometimes arch and foot pain occurs from landing with your feet too far forward relative to your hips and having to point your toes too much. It can also occur from landing with too rigid a foot and not letting your heel drop gently. Learn more about this in our Minimalist Running Guide.


Stop and let your body heal if you experience pain.

Sore, tired muscles are normal; bone, joint, or soft-tissue pain is a signal of injury.


In the beginning, remember to carry your traditional footwear in your hands as a backup.

If you need to stop in the middle of a workout, you can put on your cushioned running shoes and continue with your activity. You’ll learn more about a suggested transition schedule below.




Your feet contain 52 bones, 66 joints, 40 muscles, and hundreds of sensory receptors, tendons, and ligament—collectively forming two of the body’s most beautifully efficient mechanisms. Yet, most people assume that there is something inherently “wrong” with their feet: too wide, too narrow, arches too high or flat, etc. Traditional shoes have become a way of “fixing” these assumed abnormalities. And, as a result, the powerful architecture of our feet has become hidden, disliked, and incredibly sensitive – even weakened. Feet have taken the brunt of a cultural notion that your foot is “wrong;” that corrective shoes will make it “right.”


Vibram Fivefingers assist the natural form and function of your foot. Before you make the transition to wearing Vibram FiveFingers, it is important to familiarize yourself with your bare foot through our series of sensory exercises provided by our fitness advisor Stacey Lei Krauss.


By practicing our recommended sensory exercises, you’ll rediscover the vast potential of your feet and come to a better understanding of how they look, feel, and perform - before and after making the switch to Vibram FiveFingers.


Walk, feel, and explore. Your feet will determine the pace of your progress.


The thin, flexible, and deconstructed sole of your Vibram FiveFingers allows the foot to curl and flex. The five toes are separate—just like your feet! These features make every step taken in Vibram FiveFingers a lesson in texture, temperature, and biomechanics.


Your feet are excellent at collecting information. Thousands of neurological receptors send valuable information to the brain to tell your body where it is in space and what the terrain is like.


First, start by practicing our recommended sensory exercises and notice how your entire foot feels. Next, walk on different surfaces. This is one of the most obvious and easiest ways to stimulate and exercise the foot. With bare feet or in Vibram FiveFingers, explore your home and its surroundings. Notice how your feet feel on smooth vs. rough surfaces and try to sense/recognize the signals that your feet send to your brain.


You’ll probably notice that your foot strike and stride instinctively adjust to different surfaces. Experiment in a safe, controlled way on grass, carpeting, pavement, dirt, pebbles, and smooth rock—keeping your eyes open for potential hazards or unfriendly objects.



2-Week Strength Training Program.

Now that you have begun to familiarize yourself with your feet, you’ve probably noticed that they may be weaker than you expected. Maybe it’s hard to spread or control your toes? Perhaps being barefoot for an extended amount of time leaves your feet sore or tired? To safely begin the transition to wearing Vibram FiveFingers for barefoot running and fitness, we highly recommend a Foot Strength Training Program.


Practicing this program 3-5 times a week for two weeks will help to strengthen your feet and ankles. This will help your transition to Vibram FiveFingers, as well as overall foot strength.



This is one suggested transition plan for using Vibram FiveFingers. Every foot is unique, and each person transitions differently. This transition plan is only to be used as a guideline. Always, listen to your body first.


Weeks 1-2:

Put on Vibram FiveFingers for short sessions daily (use them in your daily activities such as walking, staying at home, wearing in the office, and hanging out).


Weeks 3-4:

Work in Vibram FiveFingers for 10% of your overall routine every other day (for example, if you usually walk 10 miles, only walk one).


Weeks 5-12:

Each week increase the length of your workouts in Vibram FiveFingers, but not more than 10% from the previous week. Continue to use Vibram FiveFingers every other day.


Week 13 & Onward:

After 13 weeks you should be able to increase the intensity or number of workouts per week in Vibram FiveFingers as you feel appropriate. Continue to gradually increase the use of Vibram FiveFingers in your workouts, until you can experience a full training session. But always remember to listen to your body during this transition.




Your feet are an amazing tool. They are the technology that grounds and balances your body. By following these Transitioning Tips, Sensory Exercises, as well as Foot Strength Training Program, we believe you will feel happier, healthier, and more connected safely explore the joys of natural movement.

* This suggested transition plan is not intended to provide hard and fast rules, but instead, it should be used as a general guideline. If your muscles are sore after running or exercising in Vibram FiveFingers, take a few days off from your routine. If you are experiencing pain, consult a physician.

**Running or exercising in Vibram FiveFingers is not for everyone. If you decide that this footwear is not for you, return them in an unused condition to the original point of purchase.

***For web orders please click here for more information. **Original point of purchase return policies may apply.