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!

Piz Vacations in Canada in his black KSO Vibram FiveFingers

Piz Vacations in Canada in his black KSO Vibram FiveFingers
VFFs enable you to gingerly hike about without stomping all the vegetation!
Piz Vacations in Canada in his black KSO Vibram FiveFingers
It's not often mentioned, but VFFs are easy to haul when being given a break.
Piz Vacations in Canada in his black KSO Vibram FiveFingers
Click on this image and note how Piz is digging his toes into the wet sand!

The above photos are of "Piz" showing off his black KSO Vibram fivefingers on his two week vacation in Canada. And based on what Piz had to say about the trip, it sounds like his KSOs were a big hit:

Just returned from 2 week vacation in Canada and my first experience with VFFs.....I have to say that they are the funnest, most versatile and conversation-starting "shoes" I've ever worn! Whether it was hiking Niagara Falls, walking thru Old Montreal or trekking the Bay of Fundy, my VFFs were perfectly suited for whatever I wanted to do. After the initial adjustment/feeling of not wearing traditional shoes, I sat back and smiled as tourists/family/friends did the double-take and asked me what I was wearing. Looking forward to the new Vibram catalog and Christmas or birthday. I'm SOLD on my Five Fingers. Thanks guys.....


There are a lot of good reasons to wear fivefingers — the ones most focused upon revolve around the health benefits and comfort. However, the more I wear mine, the more I love how they are simply great conversation-starters.

Thanks for sharing, Piz!

Introducing the Five Fingers Performa Jane, and a better look at the Five Fingers Bikila sole, and more on the Five Fingers Speed

05.06.10 - The Vibram Five Fingers Bikila is out!

(All of which is now old news to the forum members)

Below are some exciting updates on upcoming models of Vibram fivefingers slated to be available in early 2010 (Though the word is that the fivefingers Speed will only be available in Europe!).

Introducing the 2010 Vibram Five Fingers Performa Jane

The women's fivefingers Performa Jane coming in 2010 is a styled and strapped version of the (available now!) Vibram fivefingers Performa.

A few astute VFF fans probably already noticed the Performa Jane—you could have spotted it at the tail-end of RawFoodWorld's interview with Vibram President Tony Post (Go here and fast-forward to around 7:25 in the video). The women's only, single-strapped Performa Jane is aptly named as it's nearest shoe counterpart is the "Mary Jane." It looks as though the Performa Jane is another (indoor specific) option for Pilates and Yoga. The Jane, like the now-available standard Performa, has the seven-part, ultra-minimal podded sole and will be made out of leather.

In addition to the purplish color above, it looks like the Performa Jane will also be available in black!

Let's take a good look at the upcoming fivefingers Bikila sole

Above is pictured the sole of the upcoming 2010 fivefingers Bikila. Note that the arch portion is EVA.

We first got a good look at the upcoming Vibram fivefingers Bikila a couple months back. I know of at least a few runners (ahem Alan!) who are already dying to get their hands on a pair of these runnning-specific VFFs. Today, we get to see a closer look at the new Vibram sole design of the Bikila (and that of the Speed).

Here there are a few things worth pointing out:

  • The sole is 4mm of "podded" Vibram TC-1 rubber (Comparison point: standard VFF thickness is 3mm razor siped). It looks as though these mini-platforms are connected by thinner rubber (the light grey part). This jointed design looks like it is intended to provide a bit more grip on the road while still preserving foot flexibility.
  • The arch portion is EVA. The intention here seems to be to reduce weight. It reminds me of the KSO Trek's sole in that the arch section is the most slender as it pertains to the rubber.
  • There is 3mm of polyurethane insole that is most thick at the ball of the foot. Note that this is different from the KSO Trek, which has 4mm of EVA midsole.

Of course, as the fivefingers Bikila won't be ready until early 2010, we've still got awhile to speculate as to how it will perform. Clearly, Vibram has put a lot of thought into creating a running-specific VFF that strikes a balance between enabling the foot to run naturally while still providing some amount of protection. It will be exciting to see how this balance plays out!

And finally, an update on the European-release only fivefingers Speed

The 2010 European-release only fivefingers Speed sports a mesh upper and laces, which would be a boon for individuals with high insteps.

We first saw a leaked photo of the Euro-only fivefingers Speed back in late July. At the time, reception was mixed—laces being the most noteworthy departure from the more standard VFF velcro-strap system, the Speeds looked a bit different.

From an aesthetic standpoint, the stock photo above actually shows how a laced-up fivefingers could look, dare I say it, stylish. Yes, it's grown on me a lot since I saw that first photo and I now think the Speed looks cool.

Setting aesthetics aside, there is also a compelling case to be made for the fivefingers Speed's laced design. One of the difficulties Vibram has had to overcome in designing fivefingers has been to create a standard "foot" shape that can work for all the variations in feet—thickness of toes, variations in arch heights, curve of toes/toe length, width of feet, etc. For the average foot, VFFs can be sized and fitted within a certain tolerance so the wearer is comfortable. But for those individuals on the fringe of the "foot bell curve," sizing and fit starts breaking down*.

In particular, there are a number of VFFers who struggle with either high insteps or high arches. These issues can make fitting into enclosed-style VFFs difficult: there's only so much the mesh design can stretch to accommodate feet on the fringes.

Really, it's this foot issue that makes laces a great solution: they enable you to customize the tightness and fit of the upper to your foot. In other words, a compelling case could be made for laced VFFs.

Alas, as the Speed is a 2010 Euro-only release, I don't know if I'll be able to get my feet in a pair. Then again, this community is big enough maybe I can get a hook-up from across the Atlantic!

Exciting stuff in 2010

It's clear Vibram continues to respond to community feedback to try and provide new and innovative barefoot-like solutions for the minimalist footwear and barefooting community, and these new additions to the line-up, the Bikila, Speed, and Performa Jane, all look like compelling new VFFs. For now, we'll all just have to enjoy the recently released KSO Trek, Moc, and Performa!

Finally, if you want a sneak peak at a bit more, check out this forum thread! Hat tip to Corin, Ryan, and Mieke for all passing on information leading to the above post!

* Check out the current BirthdayShoes wiki entry on sizing and fit!

Pete gets his KSOed Feet wet on Spanish Beaches

Pete sent in the above two photos taken at a Spanish beach. I collapsed the two shots into an animated GIF to heighten the effect.

Here's Pete:


Took [my] KSO's for a spin in a Spanish beach. Got curious looks but most of all it was fun to run by the water and not even care about incoming waves :-)


Even though Vibram fivefinger KSOs are designed to "Keep Stuff Out," that functionality tends to break down when it comes to running water filled with fine silt and sand — a point confirmed by Pete:

I did not notice the sand so much while running ( I suppose due to water) but afterwards it was rather hard to get it out of the shoes. There is still some :-)

For all of you presently strapped to a desk and staring at a computer, can you hear the crashing waves?

Thanks, Pete!

A day of fun with Sonia at the Harley Party and Sands Casino as seen through black KSO VFFs

A day of fun with Sonia at the Harley Party and Sands Casino as seen through black KSO VFFs
These Black KSO fivefingers have all the fun!

Above is a montage of photos (click for a larger version) sent in from Sonia who continues to enjoy her newfound foot freedom:

Hey Justin,

Just love your web site and had so much fun today that I took pic's of the whole day! From the Harley Party to the Sands casino ... the whole day from beginning to end — oh what fun!! People love these and want to know more!


These black KSOs sure know how to party! Keep having fun with them, Sonia!

Running a 5K with Chad - this time in Classic Vibram Five Fingers

Running a 5K with Chad - this time in Classic Vibram Five Fingers
Chad pictured above with his new-to-running son, James.

Here's an update from Chad, who previously ran a marathon in his black KSO fivefingers, and recently ran the Charlotte, North Carolina's Hit the Brixx 10K and a 5K in his grey and orange fivefinger Classics — pushing his son in a jogger:

Hi Justin,

Just another note to let you know how my running is going. This morning I pushed my son James in our baby jogger (somewhat of a misnomer, as he's now five years old, four feet tall, and weighs sixty pounds) at Charlotte's Hit the Brixx, where I did both the 10k (50:49) and the 5k (23:02). It's a little hard to see, but I wore my orange and gray VFF Classics with black Injinji socks. That's me with the white hat, white singlet, and yellow BOB stroller.

We had a great time at the race, and James ran in his first fun run, albeit with regular running shoes. Maybe this is the beginning of a long love a running for him, I hope.



Nice times, Chad!

I'm just learning to walk properly while pushing a stroller (harder than it looks it seems! Or maybe I'm just clumsy), to say nothing of running.

Great to hear about your son getting into running, too!

Scott Rafer at TechCrunch London in his Classic FiveFingers

Scott Rafer at TechCrunch London in his Classic FiveFingers
Scott Rafer, "serial entrepreneur," photoed above at TechCrunch London, September 24, 2009, by Taylor Davidson.

Internet entrepreneur Scott Rafer passed on a photo taken of him by Taylor Davidson giving a presentation at TechCrunch London. You can see Scott is wearing his black Classic fivefingers (Photo lightened a bit for better visibility). Here's Scott on his VFFs:

I now work in my black Classics (and work out in the orange and grey) ... I now live in the darn things.

I've got an upcoming post on the "everyday greatness" of Classic fivefingers that I should put out soon that gets at Scott's point of "living in" VFFs.

Thanks for passing this on, Scott!