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!

Research Study Looks at Foot Injuries from Transitioning to Vibram FiveFingers

Research Study Looks at Foot Injuries from Transitioning to Vibram FiveFingers

Recent research released late Feb. 2013 implies that there's a good chance transitioning to Vibram FiveFingers may cause injury—specifically, bone injury.

The study was titled "Foot Bone Marrow Edema after 10-week Transition to Minimalist Running Shoes," and the abstract can be found below. In brief, the study did the following:

  • Looked at 36 experienced, recreational runners, divided them into two groups, kept 17 running in their traditional shoes for the 10 week study period, and had the other 19 transition to running in Vibram FiveFingers over the 10 week period.
  • They used MRI scans before and after the 10 week running period to look for "bone marrow edema," which is an indication of injury/inflammation as fluid builds up inside the bone.
  • The experimental group undergoing transition to FiveFingers running followed "[A] plan based on one offered at the time of the study (early 2011) on Vibram's website. In the first week, they did one short run (1-2 miles) in Vibrams. During the next two weeks, they added another short run in Vibrams each week; that is, by the third week they were to do three runs of at least 1 mile in Vibrams. After the third week, they were told to increase the amount they ran in Vibrams as felt comfortable, with the goal of replacing one short run a week in conventional shoes for a short run in Vibrams." [Details per RW]

The study found that slightly more than 50% of those transitioning to running in FiveFingers showed increases in bone marrow edema in at least one bone at the end of the 10 week period.

A cursory interpretation of the study would be that you've got a 50% chance of injuring the bones in your feet on transitioning to toe shoes like FiveFingers. As you might expect, the research is making waves in the minimalist/"barefoot running shoes" community.

What would a more nuanced take on the study be? I wanted to know, so I reached out to a few of the usual suspects—runners who have transitioned to minimalist/barefoot shoes including Vibrams and have personal experience around the subject.

What follows (after the jump!) are their thoughtful responses to this study. Read on!

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Muddy Paintball in FiveFingers

Muddy Paintball in FiveFingers

This is the muddiest photo of FiveFingers I think I've ever seen.

What's the story? Enter Michael, who picked up his pair of TrekSports as an all-purpose pair of toe shoes though he specifically planned to use them for paintball:

I've been trying to paintball regularly for a year or so now, something more active then my usual regime of computer games and TV. I'd scoffed at Vibrams the first time I saw them, but the more and more I spotted people wearing them the more I wanted to at least try them on.

Once I started paintball I figured I'd finally had a real excuse to have wear them passed the novelty so I was on a mission to eventually own my own pair. A few months ago I was able to venture to my local Hikers Haven and try on as many pairs as would fit, finally deciding that a pair of KSO Treksport would be the best for the job (as well as seemed to be the only pair that would fit my APPARENTLY abnormally tall dorsal area of my feet). Unfortunately they were lacking on my perfect size and I was lacking in actual funds.

Skip ahead a few months and a new job gave me the opportunity I needed to snag me a pair. They instantly turned into the comfiest and most expensive pair of slippers I'd ever owned.

Eventually I got the chance to head back out for paintball. I generally try to go on dry days, as I hate getting mucky (a bit of an oxymoron when paintballing), but of course that morning was a downpour, leaving the field a minefield of puddles and mud. Within the first 15 minutes of arriving, we had to walk about 50 meters through a river of inch deep mud. At that point I tossed my inhibitions to the wind and had a great time being a mudder. It was of course still winter and the puddles were cold, but the pair of Injinji socks I was wearing were able to keep me warm enough.

I'm convinced that I was more agile, less tired, and much more happy wearing the Five Fingers than I would have been wearing my usual clunky Merrell sneakers, which would have been impossible to clean.

I'll be bringing my Vibrams with me to every paintball day, and hopefully will start doing more things to wear them more often.

Michael T. - Toronto

Glad you've found some use for them!

All that talk about mud reminds me of Stuart running his 255km jungle marathon in Spyridons.

Thanks for sharing, Michael!

SeeYa, Speed FiveFingers Back in Black!

SeeYa, Speed FiveFingers Back in Black!

Did you know that Vibram has snuck out two new colorways of the men's SeeYa and Speed FiveFingers? If you didn't, read up!

The Speeds are now available in a flat black (see above) and the SeeYas in a black/grey mash-up (also above), which is infinitely less eye-catching than the day-glow SeeYa colorway that came out last year.

In a "but wait there's more" moment, one retailer has both the SeeYas and the Speeds on sale at 20% off through 3/31/2012—and the sale includes these new colorways.

You can find both FiveFingers models at these links:

One catch: free shipping threshold is over $99.

If you'll recall, the black KSO FiveFingers were quite possibly the most popular colorway of all time (see here if you don't believe me!), so I'm sure these new color combinations are likely to please.

What do you think?

P.S. If you're looking for some minimalist-if-lightly-modified "troop" boots (and other sytlish shoes by OTZ), there's a huge sale/deal on them, too. Details here.

Soft Star RunAmoc Moc3 Review

Soft Star RunAmoc Moc3 Review

I've been transitioning to minimalist a piece at a time over the course of the last two years. First was the gradual change in my actual training shoes. Then casual and business wear — still an ongoing process. Oddly the only persistent holdout was the uber-casual category. You know, the shoes you keep by the door to slip on when you're taking a chill bike ride to meet friends out for a beer, to take out the bottles for recycling, let the dog out, or need to make a quick run to the store because you're out of bourbon. (I don't drink as much as it sounds — those are just examples. Really.)

For occasions such as those, I have an ancient pair of Adidas slides and some Merrell clogs. Both of which have felt ever more clunky as more of my time is spent barefoot or with minimal coverage. My well-worn Luna Leadvilles sub in occasionally when the weather is warm, but what about when it's not? I love my Lunas, but sometimes I need something more.

Enter Soft Star shoes and their beautifully simple Moc3 RunAmoc.

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Meet Lems Boulder, the "Barefoot Shoe" Boot

Meet Lems Boulder, the "Barefoot Shoe" Boot

I got good news from Andrew Rademacher, founder of upstart minimalist/barefoot shoe manufacturer Lems Shoes* ("Light. Easy. Minimal.") — the first batch of the much-anticipated Lems Shoes Boulder Boot are now available for order! I say "first batch" because it's only the first few hundred pairs of production (more to come, of course, within a few weeks).

The release of the Boulder boot marks the first of a new line of Lems hitting the market in 2013! What's so exciting about the Boulder? Aside from it being a "barefoot shoe boot" that is super lightweight, zero drop, minimally and flexibly soled, and a boot, well, what else is there to say? If you've had a pair of Andrew's barefoot shoes, you're expectations are likely through the roof for these boots. We've reviewed the first offering from Lems that hit back in 2011 — the Primal (see reviews here and here) and had nothing but good things to say.

Andrew has a pair of Boulders coming my way, so I hope to share more about it soon, but if you're eager to snatch up a pair without further adieu and want to know the scoop, read on!

UPDATE: I got the boots! If you want to jump straight to my full review of the Lems Boulder boot, go here!


The official Boulder Boot specs from Lems!

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