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BA Indonesian/Peace Studies www.une.edu.au,
Master of Environmental Advocacy,
Technical Writer and Web Designer.
Published June 21st 2013
Set your toes free for optimum foot health
Kids love the skeleton sole and professional feel. Velcro makes it a great choice for quick sport changes such as triathlons.
Toe shoes are awesome. It was friends from America that orginally told me how amazing they were but I was not convinced until I saw how flexible they were. Having a high arch, I always preferred bare feet but of course this can be dangerous. My concerns over footware safety began with my interest in animal rescue with Australian fur seals via Animalia Wildlife Shelter and protection of the hooded plover on the Mornington Peninsula. Jumping out of the car, across hot road, onto the sand, and over rocks was tricky and the last thing I wanted was to faceplant and have a 120kg seal frightened and lunging at me for its own protection.
Toe shoes seemed the way to go but I wanted to try them for the minimum possible price. Ebay seemed the best option but I soon found there were many copies of the original Vibram shoes. I was lucky and some very helpful person was selling a pair they bought from the US which was a size too small and was perfect for me. I found them true to size and vowed only to wear them around the house and on specially required trips to the beach.
However, no sooner did they go on than I realised what I had been missing out on and they were barely off for months after that. This week, I gave my much loved pair of Vibrams their monthly hand-wash in a natural detergent with enzymes and I was really happy with how they came up considering their age and mileage. Other people throw them in the washing machine with the same good result.
My Vibrams came up very well after a quick hand wash.
These have been to the gym, shopping in the city (yes whilst wearing a pretty good outfit), a rain-forest, and sailing. The only time they were challenged was in the rain-forest where a branch put a small nick in the mesh upper but the shoe is still fine and it did not tear further. Camping and festivals are the best location for these shoes. They protect your feet so much better than thongs and feet stay clean and aerated compared with boots. They dry out very quickly even when wearing them so going through water is fine. I'd add some gaiters to them if going through prickly bushes and snakey regions.
If you are looking for a budget priced shoe with a slightly less flexible sole, try FILA Skele-toes. My son prefers these as he loves the skeletal look and the wetsuit material upper.
Some people have reviewed toe shoes online and said that they have trouble getting their toes in. I have no idea how they could have an issue unless their toes are pointing sideways or on some angle. Mine slide straight in with no drama. In 2011, there was some major controversy when the American military decided to ban toe shoes on the basis of their look in not keeping with the image of the military. As a former military member myself, I had to laugh given some of the awkward kit they had us women wearing at times. My thought is that fit, healthy people is exactly the image they would want to promote. Keeping toes separate with breathable mesh uppers are great for foot health in a challenging, communal environment.
One of the only things you can't do in toes shoes, however, is dance. Toe shoes and runners are designed for forward motion and maximum grip so I'd be heading to Capezio for a pair of split sole shoes. These are designed to spin with minimal grip. I have now tried these after finding runners were not suitable even for only one class a week. I'm doing more than one class now just to have fun with these dance shoes that greatly assist in sideways movement which means no more sore muscles and potential injuries.
Buying toe shoes online can be no problem but I'd advise firstly, measuring your feet from the heel to the end of the longest toe, checking size charts for that particular brand of shoe, and then rechecking cm sizing for the size you think is correct. Mondo and Euro sizes corresponding to the cm length of your foot work well. For growing children, I buy the correct size plus a pair larger when they are on special. Kids love them and change from sneakers to toe shoes easily given you don't require socks as most toe shoes can be machined washed (check with manufacturer). Toe socks can be purchased and I got some nice bamboo ones online also.
Message to the American military: we have 5 toes, 2 legs and 5 fingers. I'm hoping your policy on toe shoes does not extend to trousers and gloves anytime in the future.