For the last three years, I've been running in these goofy-looking Vibram FiveFingers shoes:
Just about every time I wear them, someone asks me one or more of these questions:
1. How do you like them?
I love them. They're incredibly comfortable. Imagine reverting to your childhood summers of running around barefoot. Except now you get to run around barefoot without getting any splinters. That's what these shoes are like.
2. Don't they hurt?
No. I stubbed my toes the first two times I wore them. Beyond that, I have had no toe-shoe-related injuries. I have read the primary cause of injury related to these shoes is wearing them too long and too soon. They put your feet in a more natural alignment, which, due to modern shoe fashions, is not the alignment they are familiar with. They cause you to use muscles that you are not used to using. They also change your stride. So you shouldn't put them on for the first time right before running a marathon. Ease into them, and you'll probably avoid injury.
3. How do they work?
Um... science...because reasons? I actually don't feel comfortable explaining in detail how minimalist shoes like Vibram Fivefingers are supposed to work. I've just picked up on the science behind it through podcasts and articles. Since I'm not a podiatrist or biomechanist, I try to avoid speaking about the science in detail. I'd rather refer you to the pros, like Katy Bowman, or Dr. Ray McClanahan. If you want to learn more about how they work, I suggest you check out those pros, read this short article, and start Googling to find answers to your questions.
4. Do you ever feel ashamed of yourself for attaching such an abomination to the end of your feet?
Alright, I get it, they're not cute. The eight-year-old boy I babysat told me they made me look like I had "monkey feet." Adults don't (usually) say that to my face, but I know they're thinking it. People aren't used to seeing these shoes, so they attract funny looks and odd comments. But hey, exercise shoes aren't really supposed to be "cute" and fashionable. They're supposed to get the job done. And these do, for me.
I'm not a "serious runner" by any means. I don't keep up with my speed or mileage. So anything I say about these shoes is not, I repeat, NOT "professional advice." But as someone experienced in goofy toe-shoe wearing, I will suggest that you give them a shot. You don't have a lot to lose, and you might have a lot to gain. Since I started wearing them, my running-related knee issues are all but gone. My high-heel-related toe strain has eased. And they feel very comfortable and natural. Heck, I even use these for rock climbing (again, I'm not a pro), and they feel way better than those tight ballet-like climbing shoes that I used to wear.
Try 'em out. Let me know how it goes.