Hiking Despite Osteoarthritis in Barefoot Shoes

Hiking Despite Osteoarthritis in Barefoot Shoes

I recently got the above photo from Ron. Ron is a 60+ guy who was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in one knee—after some 32 years of running.

What follows is his story about what the doc's had to say about how he should handle the news, and as you might guess, some FiveFingers came into the picture:

I call this my victory photo.

Last year, at age 60, and after 32 years of running, I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in the left knee. It hurt to walk, let alone, run. My general practitioner doctor suggested minimalist footwear as part of a program that included stretching and strengthening. [Meanwhile, both the] knee specialist and the physical therapist said to back off and use orthotics.

I took my general practitioner's advice.

Well, here I am a year later, relaxing at over 14,000 feet on the top of Mount Bierstadt in the Rocky Mountains. This was just one of several hikes I took during a 6-day vacation. I totalled nearly 35 miles of hiking and every step in my Vibram KSO Treks.

I proved to myself that I wasn't too old to make such a big change after 32 years of walking and running in the most expensive and most cushioned shoes. Of course, I still have osteoarthritis in the knee, but I am back at it, thanks to the therapeutic value stretching, strengthening, and minimalist footwear.

(I go barefoot alot, too!)

Ron A.

Fantastic to hear, Ron! And kudos for following your intuition and having success despite adverse conditions.

Hope you have many more successful hikes!

Ben Walks Beijing in KSOs FiveFingers

Ben Walks Beijing in KSOs FiveFingers
Ben's VFF KSOs pictured atop a manhole in Beijing, China.
Ben Walks Beijing in KSOs FiveFingers
Tiananmen Square as viewed a la Vibram FiveFingers KSO.

Ben sent in the above photos snapped in the Forbidden City (Beijing, China). Ben was travelling through and went on a six mile walk from his hotel to Tiananmen Square.

I noticed a bit of wear on Ben's KSOs, so I asked him what he'd been doing in them — turns out, a bit of everything:

About of year's worth of constant wear; little tear on the left pinky, seam rip on the right big toe ... Still going strong. Bought them last October and I've been running and working out (Martial Arts, Weight Lifting, CrossFit-type stuff) with them ever since.

I travel a lot for work, which is why I was in Beijing. I had a few hours to kill and though I'd like to see the world's largest public square; I did think it was a little closer to the hotel though ...

It's tough to travel light and bring an extra pair of shoes with size 13 feet, but the 5 Fingers pack up so nicely.

I always get some weird looks, but I'm always telling people I don't care what they do, what kind of exercise or sports they do, they got to get a pair.

Thanks for sharing, Ben!

Brandon's 5.5 mile road race in KSO FiveFingers

Brandon's 5.5 mile road race in KSO FiveFingers
Brandon shows off his KSO FiveFingers pre-race with a nice VFF kick!
Brandon's 5.5 mile road race in KSO FiveFingers
Here's Brandon running the Tarzan Brown Mystic River Run in his VFF KSOs.

Brandon Marshall (@bmarshallpf on twitter) recently finished his first race running in his KSO FiveFingers. Brandon emailed me to let me know about the race saying, "Love the site! I just wanted to send you a few pictures from a 5.5 mile road race I did in black KSO's this past weekend. It was my first race in them and it was awesome!"

Further, Brandon wrote up his race results at his blog. Here's a snippet from that post:

The results for the 2009 Tarzan Brown Mystic River Run have been posted and I ended up finishing the race with a net time of 46:29 at an 8:27 minute mile pace (the results say a pace of 8:34, but that is based on my final time, not my net time.) My time is the first entry on “page 8″ of the results. Not too shabby for my first race in the Vibram Five Fingers I guess! I’m getting pretty comfortable running in the VFF’s now and with longer and longer runs, I’m noticing less pain the next day or so compared to how I used to feel in my Nike’s. Hopefully the same is true after this race!

Well done, Brandon! Glad your recovery time is improving and best of luck on your future races!

Admin note: For all you RSS subscribers who might miss the updated post, Women's Treks and extended sizes for Men's KSO Trek has indeed been greenlighted for production by Vibram!

Women's KSO Trek Greenlighted for Production by Vibram!

A stock photo of the Vibram Five Fingers KSO Trek for women!
A stock photo of the Vibram Five Fingers KSO Trek for women!

Updated 7/19/2010

The Women's KSO Trek Five Fingers are out!

Updated 11/2/09

Vibram has released an announcement on their facebook page. Here's the snippet you all are waiting for:

We are happy to announce the release of the Women’s KSO Trek, beginning in late Spring 2010. Additionally, the Men’s KSO Treks will be made available in sizes 38 & 39 beginning in March 2010. We know it’s a while off, but it takes a little while to develop the tooling necessary for this new product. We heard you, and we are moving as fast as we can!

Read the rest at the official Vibram facebook page.

Thank you, Vibram! It's great to see they've got their ears to the ground of the VFF community. Congrats to the women and smaller footed men in the VFF-land!

Original Post 10/30/09

A lot is going on this weekend — the NYC Marathon is on Sunday and as what is certainly no coincidence, Born to Run author and barefoot running—or more generally, human—enthusiast Christopher McDougall has been at a number of events in New York the past couple days at both the New York City Marathon Expo as well as the City Sports at the Rockefeller Center. By the way, if you haven't caught Christopher and are in New York, you've got one more opportunity tomorrow (5 - 7pm at City Sports).

And if that's not enough to get excited about, the good word is that Vibram is also in NYC—and has made appearances alongside McDougall at City Sports.

So where am I going with this? Well I've just received information from a "little bird" that Vibram is greenlighting production of the women's KSO Trek and plans to make an announcement to this effect as soon as Monday. It seems my source was a fly on the wall at some of these recent events and picked up this bit of intell—thank you for sharing it with BirthdayShoes!

Now, lest we all get too excited, allow me to add a disclaimer: I've not yet received confirmation of this tip. Until I get confirmation, which may simply happen by way of an official announcement Monday, we all have to hold our breath.

But maybe Tim's petition got the job done. And if so, a great number of women and small-footed men VFFers will soon have something big to smile about.

Stay tuned!

Army PT Heel-Toe Running and Running in 5-Fingers: A VFF Story

Army PT Heel-Toe Running and Running in 5-Fingers: A VFF Story
Dirty black KSO FiveFingers after a run.

From Lou:

Hey Justin,

I want to start off by saying that I think you are running a great site. I enjoy submitting photos of my VFF adventures and reading other’s experiences in them. I love these shoes. My KSOs and my iPhone. If I could wear them everywhere I would and I never part from my phone LOL. Now on to my story.

Ever since my buddy showed up to a bbq at my house wearing his khaki VFF Classics I became interested in them. I wanted to buy a pair for our tubing trip we were planning. I eventually found a pair of KSOs. During my hunt for VFFs I read Vibrams blurb about the health benefits of their minimalist style shoes. So I began doing research out of curiosity. As I researched and read, it made sense to me. I remembered what I as told by my Drill Sergeant about running. Heel – Toe. I wondered about that because when hurrying from one side of my house to the other while barefoot, I never let my heel hit the floor because it would hurt. So it didn’t make sense that we would do that with shoes. But, me being a young Private with no formal training in running prior to joining, I followed orders. I was good to go as long as my running shoes still had cushioning. Once that was worn down I began developing shin splints. Painful shin splints. To the point I couldn’t walk. So ever since, running has been something I wasn’t crazy about. I also found that as I put on weight I was more susceptible to shin splints. To summarize it, I don’t like running in the Army. They don’t give you enough recovery time and their remedy for shin splints is, keep running. Deployments have been good for my legs. I can run at my own pace and distance and give myself the recovery time I need.

After reading and watching videos about running barefoot and how we were designed to run, it really made a lot of sense. Cavemen weren’t running after the Wooly Mammoth in a pair of Jordan’s or New Balance. It really sparked my interest. I wanted to run in my VFFs but was afraid to just jump into it. I had to balance out running every other morning with the Army and running in VFFs. So I decided to try and adjust and improve my form during our morning runs. At first it felt good. My shin pain wasn’t flaring up. The only problem was we ran 4 miles and my calves were not ready for that. I found my legs fatiguing and I eventually fell behind the formation. Once we finished my calves were screaming. I kept at it though. I noticed improvement.

Last week my buddy and I got our soldiers out of doing PT (physical training for those non-military) with the unit and took them out to do PT on our own. I chose to wear my KSOs and brought my regular running shoes, just in case. They all looked at me weird and told me I was crazy. We started off with some sprints on asphalt. I took off, stopped, turned around and bolted back. I was amazed at the fact that it didn’t hurt my feet. It was surprisingly cushioned. The grip was amazing too. It was a great feeling. We did multiple sprints and still no pain. Then we ran around the park. We ran on concrete, asphalt, grass, through mud, over picnic tables, jumped on boulders and ran down a gravel path. My feet held up the whole way. After a while of running on the road and sidewalk my feet began to get a little tender, but that was after a total of two miles of running. To summarize my experience running in VFFs I would have to say it was great. I loved it and plan on doing it more often. I now have a schedule where I don’t do PT with the unit but I have time to do it on my own. This will allow me to run in my KSOs more often. Man I love these shoes. I wish I could wear them more often.

Thanks for sharing, Lou. Many of us can relate to the joy of running with VFFs (or barefoot) — and it comes without pain (aside from muscle soreness from rebuilding your foot, ankle, and calf muscles from years of atrophy!) just makes it all the better.

Latest Vibram Five Fingers Reviews 11/1/09

This past week's latest Vibram FiveFingers reviews includes a Performa review by Tina Dubois:

  • Quick Review: Vibram FiveFinger Sprint at Barefoot and Grounded [Sprint]:

    As a barefooter, I was very interested in trying on a pair of Vibram Fivefingers and putting them through their paces to see just how good of a "barefoot alternative" they are. I have worn them a lot and for many different uses -- and therefore taken longer to post a review -- because I wanted to find out just how versatile a set of toe shoes can be. The answer? Very.

  • Review – Vibram FiveFingers Performa at LivingBarefoot [Performa]:

    The Performa is another impressive product from Vibram FiveFingers. This model evolved from feedback regarding the FiveFingers lineup and suggestions by their customers to develop an even more minimalistic indoor model. I was pleasantly surprised by the comfort and warmth of these shoes and I greatly appreciate the leather innovations included in the construction of these shoes. They are well ventilated yet warm, water resistant, and have superior microbe protection. They have an unsurpassed barefoot feel and I intend to wear them as my indoor shoe of choice when barefoot may not be the best option.

  • Deirdre's Decadent Foot Indulgence, the FiveFingers Performa at BirthdayShoes! [Performa]:

    I wore my Performas for an initial test-run walking around NYC's Time Warner building. The close-to-barefoot feeling isn't neccessarily a good thing when standing on a hard surface for long periods of time or, in the case of Classic, walking miles and miles on concrete.

    Did I need these? Of course not; I just knew instantaneously that I had to have them. I will not be using either model for extreme sports. I will perhaps dance in them, flaunt them subtly. Seduce with Performa.

See last week's Latest 5 Fingers reviews here.

Deirdre's Decadent Foot Indulgence, Review of the Vibram Five Fingers Performa

Deirdre's Decadent Foot Indulgence, Review of the Vibram Five Fingers Performa

Note from Justin: As I'm not in the position to personally review the new FiveFingers Performa—the all leather, ultra-minimalist, indoor-only, pod-soled VFF made specifically for women—I have been in contact with someone who considers the Performas a decadent treat for her feet! Meet Deirdre. I asked Deirdre to put together some thoughts on her Performas to share with the BirthdayShoes community. If you would like to submit a review of the Performa or any other FiveFingers model to be published on this site, please let me know!

Deirdre on the FiveFingers Performa

Deirdre has the new FiveFingers Performa in "violet," which according to Deirdre is more "'cassis' bordering on 'plum.'"

The minute I saw the the Performa, I had palpitations. I had to have it. For me this is a decadent foot indulgence. It's a fetish shoe not an athletic shoe.

I had my heart set on black until I saw the "violet" online. It isn't really violet. I'd call it "cassis" bordering on "plum." A must have nonetheless. Beautiful.

I raced to City Sports here in Manhattan where the black was available to try it on for proper size. The salespeople were very helpful without being pushy, which I appreciate. I will make it a point to buy a pair of black Performas at City Sports because of this.

At City Sports I encountered a lovely woman from the U.K. buying up many pairs of VFFs because of the price differential between Europe and the USA. We had a great reciprocal girl-bonding time as in "Ooh those look great on your foot/calf."

Despite reports of backorders shipping in December, I ordered the Performa in "violet" from Travel Country and had my Performas on within two days!

The fit is perfect, supple and streamlined; it makes the Classic feel almost not-so-graceful. I am the same size in the Performa as in the Classic.

I wore my Performas for an initial test-run walking around NYC's Time Warner building. The close-to-barefoot feeling isn't neccessarily a good thing when standing on a hard surface for long periods of time or, in the case of Classic, walking miles and miles on concrete.

Did I need these? Of course not; I just knew instantaneously that I had to have them. I will not be using either model for extreme sports. I will perhaps dance in them, flaunt them subtly. Seduce with Performa.

Sock Dreams has every possible type of toe sock (from over the knee to toes only) in fabrics ranging from filament silk to substantial wool blends. I am pictured wearing black, opaque toe-tights (there are sheer toe pantyhose as well) with Performa.

Here Deirdre demonstrates "toe cleavage" in FiveFingers a la black toe-tights from Sock Dreams!


Thank you, Deirdre, for sharing your thoughts on the VFF Performa!