I have known about the Vibram Five Fingers for almost a year now. One of my fellow Peace Corps friends runs barefoot all the time, including long distances like marathons. Plus there have been numerous articles about the benefits of barefoot running. However, it wasn't until I read "Born to Run" that I was convinced. I was inspired by the stories of people ditching the popular way of running and discovering their knee or other running based injuries ended. Even more so, I was motivated by the stories of tribes that have been running 100s of mile for years without any pain.
In the book they also discuss how The Human Body Is Built for Distance. The reason there are so many running related injuries is because of bad running form and overly cushioned shoes.
After doing further research, I decided if I want to reduce my knee pain and run a marathon one day, I need to go back to the basics. I need to stop running with my heels and utilize the balls of my feet. I am hoping Vibram Five Fingers helps to strength my feet and redirects more natural running gait. I've only worn them once, so no review yet. But I will be sure to write about it in a month or so.....
"Many experts believe the shoes we wear not only cast the foot in a protective form, but also weaken our foot and leg muscles, leaving them underdeveloped and more prone to injury. And while there are many occasions where traditional footwear is essential for protection, safety, and security, it is equally important to stimulate and exercise the foot in a more natural state on a regular basis........Motion studies demonstrate that when running barefoot, one naturally lands on the forefoot, directly below your center of gravity. This results in optimum balance, increased stability, less impact, and greater propulsion. According to Dr. Ivo Waerlop of the Vibram Biomechanics Advisory Board, “Running in FiveFingers improves agility, strength, and equilibrium, plus it delivers sensory feedback that allows runners to make immediate corrections in their form. This greatly improves running efficiency.”" Vibram Five Finger Website
"But for all the technological advances promoted by the industry — the roll bars, the computer chips and the memory foam — experts say the injury rate among runners is virtually unchanged since the 1970s, when the modern running shoe was introduced. Some ailments, like those involving the knee and Achilles’ tendon, have increased." Wiggling Their Toes at the Shoe Giants
By AMY CORTESE (NY Times)
July 2012 update - My knee pain is much better. I only use the shoes 1-2x a week and use my sneakers the other times. But I believe switching to running forefoot is the reason I was able to train and run my marathon in 2011 :)