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!

  • minimalist sandals!

    Xero Shoes - Barefoot Running Sandals

How Kyle Steed got into VFFs and Running

How Kyle Steed got into VFFs and Running

Above is a photo from Kyle Steed taken of his KSO VFFs and some local ground art.

Kyle recently got into Five Fingers, which he aptly calls "the whole VFF movement." Here's what he had to say:


Here's a bit about why I got into the whole VFF movement.

I heard an interview on NPR about barefoot running. They were talking about the book "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall. My wife first heard the interview and called me one afternoon to tell me to turn it on and listen. After listening to his story about going to Mexico and witnessing this group of people who ran long distances in no more than thin leather sandals, I was intrigued. The thought that running barefooted, or with Vibrams, could help prevent knee injury and actually help improve your run was what really motivated me to get a pair of my own.

I spent probably a good week or two researching online to find out what model I wanted, as well as reading other articles on Wired.com, The Wall Street Journal and other smaller blogs. I have now logged about 12 miles in my KSO VFFs, and while that may not sound like a lot, it's a beginning. My goal for next year is to enter and complete a half-marathon and possibly a full marathon.

You can keep up with how my runs are going on DailyMile.com.


Kyle also did a nice video about his first run in Vibram Five Fingers. Check it out:


Kyle may be doing future video updates on running in his VFFs, and you can stay on top of that over at his blog kylesteed.com!

Hiking at the Great Wall of China in KSO Vibram Five Fingers

David hiked to the Great Wall of China in his Five Finger KSOs.  Here are two VFF-shod views from a scenic section!
David hiked to the Great Wall of China in his Five Finger KSOs. Here are two VFF-shod views from a scenic section!

David sent in the above photos taken on a recent trip traveling to the Great Wall of China, which David hiked to wearing his black KSO Vibram Five Fingers. I asked David to tell us about the hike:

It was a 10 km hike from Jinshanling to Simatai along both rough and repaired sections of the wall. Since it is winter, it was quite cold — below freezing. As we approached the wall through the valley, I thought I might end up with frostbite! (I had backup shoes and socks just in case).

Once we got on the wall, it warmed up and I was much more comfortable. It was relatively deserted since it is off-season, but there were still many locals around to hawk their wares. Most noticed the VFF's and pointed them out, and I heard (though did not understand) quite a bit of Chinese that I think had my funny shoes as the subject.

As to the hike itself, the VFF's fared quite well. There were a number of scrambles up broken stairs, a tiny climb here and there, but mostly walking along uneven stone the entire way. I definitely enjoyed the grip and feel of these more than I would have sneakers or hiking boots.

Nothing like VFFs for impromptu scrambling up old ruins and boulders. From the photos, it looks like it was a beautiful (albeit chilly per your description) day to see the Wall.

Thanks for passing on the experience!

More on FiveFingers Joggling with Joe Salter

As a follow-up to Joe's recent Philly marathon-in-Five-Fingers-joggling finish, Joe sent me a nice video showcasing some unedited footage of 40 joggling tricks:

Anyone else suddenly getting the itch to learn how to juggle — and maybe even eventually joggle? Or is it just me?

Joe also had this to say:

Juggling and running go together like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Juggling and running in VFF's go together like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich made by your mom.

Joggling in VFF's increases the full body experience and sensations you get from joggling. I really enjoy the lightness of my steps in VFF's, which complements the soft tosses and catches of the juggling beanbags. It's a smooth combination; one that puts you in a synchronized balancing act. One step and toss at a time.

People often wonder why we wear VFF's. If you're interested in learning why people joggle, check out my article on the "Psychology of Joggling."

Joe Salter

I asked Joe if it was hard to acquire the meditative state often claimed by runners — with so much going on, it seemed almost like you've have to be too aware. Apparently, that's not the case at all though. With such a full-body activity, it seems joggling may be even more effective at "silencing" the mind. Here's Joe:

Joggling becomes second nature, so it can be very absorbing, yet I am able to focus on a lot of other things if I want to because it's automatic. When you're first starting out, I think it's more absorbing because it demands your full concentration. But, once you get experienced with it, it's up to you how meditative and absorbed you want to get. I allow myself to to be absorbed and get into a wonderful rhythm and flow.

So, to answer your question I do think that joggling is more meditative than running, or at least it can be. I think it adds more repetition and full body synchronized movement, which brings about calmness.

Check out the book called "Flow" if you have not. Or read about it, by Dr. C (he has a very long last name, he's hungarian I think).

On a different note, most people think that jogglers would be less aware than runners. But, for me, joggling heightens my senses and makes more more sensitive to my environment because I have to. Kind of like VFF's, barefoot running, or riding a motorcycle. For example, I hear a lot better because I listen closer to my environment when a car is coming behind me because it's a little harder to turn around while joggling than running, even though I can do it easily but it just wastes time (you just turn at the waist and look behind you).

I am also more aware of my environment because it releases an adrenaline rush because you're doing something that people think is really neat and it's unique especially in a urban area. So, in that sense, I am more aware because I am scanning my environment and always looking around for potential cars, curbs, holes, or people to interact with while joggling (smile at them, show a trick, say hello to them).

It really is a great mind body exercise. Juggling in itself is very meditative, or flow-like, because it's challenging, absorbing, and repetitive. Same with running. Put them together, and you get more opportunities for flow experiences.

The book Joe mentions is Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Reading through a few of the reviews, it reminds me a bit of another psych-book that I read earlier this year by Dr. William Glasser called Positive Addiction, which discusses running (and other physical activities) that can induce a meditative state.

Thought-provoking stuff. Now I just need to go find some bean bags ...

Ronald's 10K Podium Finish in KSO V5s

Ronald has a huge grin on his face as he runs a recent 10K in his KSO Five Fingers.  Who says running isn't fun?
Ronald has a huge grin on his face as he runs a recent 10K in his KSO Five Fingers. Who says running isn't fun?

Ronald recently ran a 10K in his black KSO Five Fingers and was fast enough to get a 3rd place finish! Here's what Ronald had to say:

Hi Justin!

Just wanted to share my pic and experience with my VFF KSOs.

I've been training in them since September and finally used them on an actual race, last December 5. I finished my first 10k for the year with a time of 54:02, good enough for 3rd place. Pretty fast, considering that I'm into ultras. Haha! I really enjoyed my experience with my KSOs and hope to get the Treks soon. And if I decide to use VFFs in an ultra, I'll let you know.

More power to your website and to the VFF community!


Definitely keep us posted on any ultra runs you do in them! Good to hear you're having so much fun in your new set of feet!

Jawa runs the Rock'N'Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon in KSO V5Fs

Photos from Dr. Jawa's recent half-marathon — the Las Vegas Rock'N'Roll half marathon.  Can you spot Jawa's blue-camo KSO FiveFingers?
Photos from Dr. Jawa's recent half-marathon — the Las Vegas Rock'N'Roll half marathon. Can you spot Jawa's blue-camo KSO FiveFingers?

We've previously heard from (Dr.) Jawa as he not only runs and does post-run headstands in his KSOs but also teaches in his Five Fingers. Most recently, Jawa ran a half marathon in his blue camo KSOs. An impressive feat in and of itself, but that he only started running again in September — just awesome!

Here's what Jawa had to say about the accomplishment:

Hello Justin,

I just crossed a major milestone a few days ago. I started running not too long ago but my running was not going anywhere because I had constant knee and lower back pain. See my blog titled "Addicted to Shoes" if you want the (funny) story behind my interest in running.

In September I bought my first pair of Vibram five Fingers. I started with half a mile run on my blue KSOs, and on December 6, 2009 I completed my first half marathon (Rock N Roll Las Vegas). Not only did I complete the race but also I finished successfully with a PR. My chip time was 1:56 with an average pace of 8:52 minutes per mile. Not bad for a new runner nearing 50! Here is a Garmin link to my race.

My next goal - another half marathon and then all the way to LA Marathon. I probably will use a new pair of KSOs for these races.



Thanks Jawa and well done!

I encourage you all to read Jawa's Addicted to shoes post. Here's a snippet from the intro that I particularly liked:

Surgeon General’s Warning: Running with these shoes ruins your natural posture and causes serious injuries.

Would you buy a Nike shoe, if it had the above warning label on the box? Yet we spend $100+ on running shoes that are actually causing serious injuries.

It all started when my daughter said that she was going to run a half-a-marathon (13.1 miles). I thought this was the most sensible thing she said in a long time. I was excited and without even a moment of hesitation I decided then and there I was going to run too. I am an abecedarian in running and the last time I ran was when I was a sophomore in high school and that was 35 years ago.

Now go read the rest!

Matt's KSO Vibram Five Fingers Birthday Cake

Above is photoed Matt's 40th birthday cake, made by Sweet Lisa's out of Connecticut, depicting a pair of Matt's running shoes—KSO Vibram Five Fingers!
Above is photoed Matt's 40th birthday cake, made by Sweet Lisa's out of Connecticut, depicting a pair of Matt's running shoes—KSO Vibram Five Fingers!

Matt is a KSO Vibram Five Fingers runner and blogger at Run Luau Run. As he is about to turn 40 on the 22nd of December, Matt's wife recently threw him a surprise birthday party, complete with the awesome cake pictured above depicting a pair of gray/palm KSO Vibram Five Fingers, made by Sweet Lisas. Matt wrote this about the cake:

I love the details of the heel pull and the VIBRAM label on the sole. My wife had the cake “imported” from Connecticut. It was made by our dear friends at Sweet Lisa’s. You may have seen them once or twice on the Food Network! They are awesome and can make anything…ANYTHING! Oh, and it was delicious!!!

I asked Matt if I could share his birthday cake with birthday shoes and he kindly agreed.

For all you VFF runners out there, check out Run Luau Run. Matt is working toward his goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon and blogs race reports and other thoughts from his training. One post worth checking out is his write-up on switching to FiveFingers. Here's a my favorite part from his post titled "It's Gotta be the Shoes:"

You want to run like you did when you were a kid? Like you didn’t care about anything other than the wind in your hair and the laughter in the air? Wake your feet up. Vibrams are the vehicle to get you back to the joy of running ... just do it slowly.

Above are photos of Matt as he ran the Manchester City Marathon.
Above are photos of Matt as he ran the Manchester City Marathon.

Keep it up, Matt! Happy (early) Birthday, and thanks for sharing your impressive cake with the Five Fingers fan community!
You can follow "Luau" on twitter @luau