Vibram Men's EL-X

I have two pair of the EL-X shoes, the pair shown here and black on black. For anyone unfamiliar with these, the following might be helpful. Correct sizing is very important in buying shoes, probably more so when buying Vibram Five Fingers (VFF), but I don’t think it has ever been as crucial as it is in buying the EL-X. That’s because these are strictly elastic and you don’t have the freedom to customize the fit with laces or hook and loop straps. Initially I thought something elastic might be easier to buy because they’d be more forgiving, and that may be true at times but, except for the sole, the EL-X is entirely elastic and exerts a constant (and deceptively strong) pressure. The upper is extremely thin and fully elasticised and will be very snug, however the pressure is distributed across the entire foot. The elastic band at the opening on the other hand applies pressure to just the area it touches and, even with the proper sizing, the constant pressure over such a small area can be uncomfortable, especially when worn for a few hours. I now own 39 pairs of VFFs (ya I know!) and they’re all size 42 and they all fit exactly the same and I love them, however I really had to work to get my feet used to these. The problem was the pressure of the opening on my achilles tendon causing a rather painful break-in. I also had some initial chaffing and skin removal at the achilles but that stopped once my skin toughened with time. Again, there is no way to adjust the fit of the opening. I like the EL-X, they are extremely thin everywhere including the sole. You “will” feel “everything” underfoot. I wear them basically as my VFF house slippers for that reason, though I have left the house with them on. You’ll just want to pay a little attention to any sharp things you may step on if you do. I can comfortably wear every pair of my VFFs all day without issue because I control the fit via the laces or strap however, even though I’m used to VFFs, I can only wear these for relatively short periods because they are constricting and the uppers do apply a constant pressure that starts to become uncomfortable (again, for me) after a relatively short time. It’s only because these are so different from every other shoe in the VFF line that I thought commenting on them may be helpful.

Note: I only had 38 pairs before today. But the only type of VFF I haven’t tried is the Vybrid. I’ve wanted to because in the world of VFF they are unique, kinda like the EL-X is in a way. Just figured I’d wait till I saw a pair I wanted at a good price, well … $59.99 is a great price so …

These shoes are not only NOT better for you, they are WORSE THAN REGULAR SHOES.

Vibram settled a class-action suit in 2014 centered around these shoes and claims they made. Don’t be a sucker. These shoes can injure you!

First of all, the class action lawsuit was started by a woman because of, in her words, deceptive advertising. Her suit stated that Vibram didn’t have documented proof for their claims of the shoes being able to improve one’s health in their advertising. And the court ruled she was right. The case, and the ruling, had NOTHING to do whatsoever in determing whether or not the shoes can improve ones health, only that, at the time, Vibram didn’t have sufficient data to back their advertising claims when the shoes were first introduced to the public.

Secondly, I began wearing VFFs after seeing two of my doctors wearing them while working at the hospital. After talking with them, I decided to try them to help reduce the punishment my knee and ankle joints absorbed from using regular shoes (Vibram’s promote ball-striking which is much less stessful to the joints than the heel-striking promoted by standard footwear) and to help my lower back pain because Vibram’s cause me to walk with a more correct posture. And I’m happy to say my VFFs have helped in both areas. These benefits are echoed in the majority of documentation from actual users I’ve read online. And I doubt my doctors would knowingly use them if they felt they were causing themselves harm.

Lastly, it is well known that anyone switching to VFFs need to do so slowly. Standard footwear constricts the foot and toes which causes many muscles in the foot and calf to not be used, and they atrophy as a result. So when VFFs come into the picture, these muscles are called upon to be used and, after such a long period of non-use in most cases, new users complain about the pain they experience because they bought them and immediately began using them the same way they were used to with their traditional running shoes. So yes, as is human nature, people will write more prolifically about problems they experience than those who will write about things that please them.

It amazes me to hear from people who aren’t aware of the circumstances behind the lawsuit and those who have never worn a pair of VFFs in their life, put down so vehemently a company or product when they have not been involved with either. It’s almost as if they have some vendetta against Vibram or as if Vibram had done them wrong at some point in the past. The bulk of those who have tried Vibrams and followed the guidelines for getting started have nothing but good things to say.

And just to elaborate a bit further on how inane claims such as yours are, what you are railing against is people going barefoot. That is all that’s being discussed here. Vibram FiveFingers are for those who like the feel of being barefoot but don’t like stepping on things that, without protection, would hurt them. Again, the inuries or pain some people incur is because they’re using muscles that have atrophied and, done incorrectly, that can be harmful. But to infer merely putting a protective layer between a person’s foot and the ground is harmful is well … silly. The only thing going on is people who enjoy going barefoot, people who like to let their toes splay out naturally rather than be confined have found a product that allows them to enjoy the pleasure they derive from “running around barefoot” without having to worry about what they step on while they’re doing it. Now how can you be against that? If someone were to take off their traditional running shoes and start running barefoot, they would experience the same injuries (shin splits,etc.) or pain that some espouse comes from the use of VFFs. In fact I would contend their injuries could, and probably would, be much worse if they did that because of the sharp rocks and such that would cause lacerations,etc. Sorry to be so wordy, I guess it’s just that I get perplexed when I hear comments such as yours and end up wondering about the real motivation behind them.