As we all get closer and closer to the end of another hockey season, many of us will begin making plans for off season training. Weight and endurance training are extremely important to hockey players, and as you begin to progress with your off ice training, you may also notice your game getting better on the ice.
In order to have a successful training regime, you must make sure you’re not only following a great training program, but that you’re also using the best training gear. If you’re accustomed to using gym shoes or sneakers in the weight room, you may want to take a further look at barefoot style shoes such as Vibram Five Fingers.
Late in 2011, Vibram was kind enough to provide us with a review unit of their Komodosport Five Finger shoes. Since then, I have been using these barefoot style shoes exclusively as my training shoes, and have not even considered normal shoes since my transition. Read on for a more detailed look at my experience with the Vibram Five Fingers Komodosport shoes.
Specs: Vibram Five Fingers Komodosport, size 43. Typical shoe size: 11 – 11.5. Typical skate size: 9.5 – 10.
Fit: The Komodosport Five Fingers have given me the best fit I’ve ever had from a shoe, training or otherwise. Vibram’s fit just like the shape of your foot, with a five toe-pockets, one for each of your toes. With the only negative space coming in front of some of my smaller toes, the Komodosport feel very much like not wearing a shoe at all.
When sizing myself for skates, I always need to keep in mind that I need a wider forefoot to get a great fit. The Komodosports I received were standard width, and have not been constricting on my foot at all. They fit comfortably throughout the foot, despite my wide forefoot, and have never felt constricting.
The single velcro strap across the top of the shoe is more than enough to keep my foot locked in place. In fact, the shoe would keep itself in place with or without the strap, due to the stretchy materials used. However, using the velcro strap allows you to get a nice range of tightness across the top of your foot. This might be something you adjust differently depending on your activity. For example, when running, I want to make sure my foot will not move around whatsoever, so I will tighten the strap a bit more. Alternatively, when lifting weights, I will strap the velcro very loosely to allow my foot to have a bit more flexibility.
Performance: I have used several different types of shoes to work out, such as running shoes and training style shoes. As the barefoot movement began to gain momentum, I started to take note of the benefits I could see by adopting it. After working out in shoes for several years, I dumped them and began to just lift in my socks. While this improved my technique on several important lifts, it left me without some stability and grip that shoes provide.
Enter the Vibram Komodosport, which, simply put, are the best workout shoes I have ever used. Lifts such as squats, deadlifts, and lunges (which are all important to hockey players), have all improved. The barefoot style, with no heel lift, has me feeling completely stable and comfortable on my feet.
Lifting in normal shoes, with a heel lift, constantly had me worrying about hurting my back. Wearing the Vibrams has helped improve my form and stance on these important lifts, resulting in less back stress. It has also resulted in increased strength as I have been able to confidently add weight on all of my lifts.
Beyond that, working out in the Vibram Komodosport shoes will work all parts of your legs, from your quads and hamstrings, into your calves, and all the way down into the smaller muscles in your legs. This will only help to improve your skating, as the muscles in the legs are the most important for hockey players.
Durability: Vibram started as a company which produced rubber soles for heavy duty boots. Taking this same rubber sole, and transferring it into their new five fingers shoes, gives you confidence that this sole is going to be extremely durable. You can train indoors or outdoors without worry or hesitation that your Vibram’s will get damaged.
Personally, I have used the Komodosport shoes mostly indoors. I have a home gym in my basement, so any weight lifting I do takes place there. The soles on my Vibram’s look brand new still, with no visible wear at all.
Moving inside the Komodosport, you have a stretch mesh and polyamide upper. These materials have proven their worth as well, keeping their shape fairly well and staying in good condition. The opening for my foot has stretched a bit from putting them on, but it’s nothing that bothers me or that can’t be taken care of by the velcro strap.
The footbed is probably where I’ve noticed the most wear, and it is focused in the heels. I can’t really explain why the heel is seeing more wear, but it’s not a significant amount considering these have been in use for a few months now.
Running: I have done most of my training in the Vibram’s in my basement, focused on weight lifting, but I have also used them for two runs amassing nearly four miles. While the Komodosport’s have been nothing short of fantastic in this type of cardio training, you must keep in mind that unless you have been running barefoot or using other Vibram’s/barefoot style shoes, you are not ready to immediately go for a long run in these. Start slow and walk in the shoes first. Make sure your body and feet are comfortable walking in them for distances, then proceed to running. Even then, begin slow, and do half mile runs for a few weeks. Slowly begin to work your way to longer runs as your body, legs and feet get used to running in a new way.
I can tell you from personal experience that if you don’t adhere to this, you will be sore. Each of my runs went nearly two miles, and both ended with extremely sore calf muscles. The first run, on a treadmill, I felt incredible throughout the run and only felt sore afterwards. On my second run, outdoors, I had to stop short due to calf cramps because I didn’t take the time to become comfortable with the barefoot style of running.
Overall: If you’re looking for a shoe specific to weight and fitness training, I would recommend the Vibram Komodosport in a heartbeat. My feet and body have been thankful for these shoes ever since I began using them. Lifts have increased, and at the same time, I feel much more stable and comfortable performing them. This especially holds true for important and complex lifts such as squats and deadlifts.
At $110 per pair, you are spending a good chunk of change to get some, but a pair of Nike or Adidas training shoes will hover in the same area. For the cost conscious, visit the Vibram Five Fingers website and take a look at the other styles available. The classic Five Fingers only run $75 and several other styles fall under $100.
If you’re interested in learning more about Vibram Five Fingers, check out their website. You can pick up some knowledge, or buy a pair of the shoes on the site. A quick search on YouTube will yield some additional reviews and testimonials from people who are using Vibram’s. If you’re thinking about grabbing a pair, I would encourage you to check those out as well and learn as much as you can before pulling the trigger.
Feel free to leave us a comment with your thoughts on Vibram Five Fingers. Do you own a pair, or are you considering them? Join the conversation and let us know what you think!