Power Tigers select 'barefoot' shoes.

Vibram Five Fingers, the revolutionary footwear that was selected by Time Magazine as one of its Best Inventions in 2007, is the footwear of choice by Powerade Tigers Basketball Team, runner-up at the 2011 PBA Philippine Cup.

"I first came across it while reading a magazine a few years back. I read about it again in the book, ‘Born to Run.’ Then I started to look into the benefits of barefoot training and the best compromise seemed to use a minimalist shoe like the Vibram Five Fingers," says Powerade strength and conditioning coach Julio Veloso.

A special kind of footwear that can be used for athletic and non-athletic use, Vibram Five Fingers is known for its corrective and therapeutic qualities that ordinary shoes or sandals can give. Because its features are unconventional, some of the Powerade Tigers had to adjust when they first tried it.

Their doubts about VFF soon began to disappear after seeing the positive effects of the footwear on their performance. That is because Vibram Five Fingers initiates the wearer to the feeling of barefoot running. Scientific studies show barefoot running corrects the way we run, making us land on the balls of our feet (called the midfoot area) as compared to conventional shoes which gives us the tendency to land on the heels first. Landing on the heels first releases more pressure or shock to our legs and knees which slows us down.

Coach Julio noticed the beneficial effects of the Vibram Five Fingers footwear on his work on the team, as it improved their speed and footwork. "It did make my job easier in teaching the form of some exercises particularly landing properly in plyometric drills." This is due to that fact that VFF stimulates neural function important to balance and agility: when wearing VFF, thousands of neurological receptors in the feet send valuable information to the brain (in short, it heightens our body awareness even while walking or running).

On the other hand, players like Fil-Canadian small forward Sean Anthony found VFF good for his feet. "It’s much lighter, and when using it, it’s like training barefoot, which is better," he said. Vibram Five Fingers improves range of motion in ankles, feet and toes, as they move more naturally since they are no longer ‘cast’ in a shoe.

All the Powerade Tigers unanimously agreed that aside from its athletic benefits, they found VFF footwear particularly useful even when not training, as they use them every day for non-athletic purposes. Whether for training and post-workout, Vibram Five Fingers helps the feet stretch and relax after running or being enclosed in conventional shoes. Simply put, wearing VFF is like giving your feet a much deserved vacation!

"I even use VFF whenever I go to the malls or walk on the beach," adds Coach Julio. The added comfort of wearing Vibram Five Fingers footwear has given the Powerade Tigers a reason not only to use it in their training but also for everyday use.

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