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!

Justin hikes in his grey five finger Sprints

Justin hikes in his grey five finger Sprints
Justin hikes in his grey five finger Sprints
Justin hikes in his grey five finger Sprints
Justin hikes in his grey five finger Sprints

The above photos were sent in from a (well-named) new VFFer named Justin.

Here are some pics from a 10 mile hike I did on the Fiery Gizzard Trail (South Cumberland State Park) in Monteagle, Tennessee back on August 15th.

I had just received my Five Finger Sprints the day before in the mail, so this was my first adventure in them :)

Absolutely loved it!

They definitely came in handy when we were jumping off waterfalls and had to climb back up.

Some of the rocks and roots along the trail weren't too friendly, but it was worth it!

Not only was Justin jumping off waterfalls in his VFF Sprints, he also was "jumping right in" to the VFF lifestyle — a 10 mile hike after just receiving your fivefingers could really put your not-yet-adapted feet to the test! Glad you are already getting such great use out of your new Sprints (and I hope you didn't have too much soreness after your VFF trial-by-fire)!

Latest Vibram Five Fingers Reviews 9/06/09

Time once again for this past week's latest fivefingers reviews. Here's what we got:

  • Vibram FiveFingers Barefoot Shoes Review at about.com - ergonomics [KSO]:

    The Vibram FiveFingers shoes are ingenious, well built and a phenomenal personal ergonomic enhancement. They improve your body mechanics at the starting point, your feet. And everything benefits because of that.

    Balance, agility and body control are all enhanced. Your hips and spine have better alignment and your heel strike (a major cause of back pain) is better.

Barefoot Ted McDonald Running the Leadville 100 in Fivefinger KSO Treks

Barefoot Ted McDonald Running the Leadville 100 in Fivefinger KSO Treks

"Barefoot Ted" McDonald recently ran the Leadville 100, an ultramarathon race held out in Leadville, Colorado (You might have read about this race in Born to Run).

And since Ted is effectively both the patron saint of barefooting and Vibram fivefingers, he ran the Leadville 100 in the new Vibram fivefinger KSO Treks (You can see them in the above photo from the race!).

I asked "BFT" if I could share with birthdayshoes.com a bit from his account of the race and he kindly obliged. So below, you'll find a snippet from his post for your reading pleasure. For the rest, you'll have to head over to barefootted.com:

What an amazing experience...running 100 miles in 25 hours and 54 minutes up in the Colorado Rockies in the town of Leadville, Colorado, 10,000 feet above sea level.

From my point of view, this year's race was blessed from the beginning...sporting my new Vibram FiveFinger KSO Treks...and some sponsorship money to pay for the race and some travel...thank you Vibram...I was also blessed with a fantastic crew and pacers...a luxury I did not have last year...made all the difference being part of a team! Thanks! ...

[Later, describing a section of the race ...]

Got into Twin Lakes inbound feeling ready to run 40 more miles. Picked up my pacer Scott who was sporting red VFF Sprints...and off we went. Just before we took off, I downed a Chili Chocolate Mocha from Proven Grounds in Leadville...it was delicious...but it didn't mix well with the other stuff I crammed down my throat, so Scott's first taste of ultra nastiness was me upchucking the coffee just after climbing out of Twin Peaks. Vomiting while walking-running is a ultramarathon skill. Scott was a bit taken aback, but we soon got in stride making our way to the finish.

Scott ended up staying with me all the way to Powerline...25 plus miles on his first pacing adventure. What an amazing job. Excellent company the whole way. ...

It must be quite a feeling to run for a solid 25+ hours — 100 miles. Congratulations on your finish, Ted!

Additionally, I wanted to pass on a post Ted made to his barefooting/minimalist footwear Google group about how to run barefoot:

Barefoot Ted on running barefoot or minimally:

So, you wanna start running barefoot or minimally? Before you do,
realize you are most likely in the process of rehabilitating
yourself...either from little or no movement or from a running style
that is significantly different from what you will experience starting
new.

My basic points are to start slowly...avoid over-exuberance!

The 3 main things I emphasize in my coaching workshops are:

  1. Gentle ball-heel-ball landings - feet and arms moving in same
    direction...forward.
  2. Quick cadence - leg speed
  3. Stable upright posture and engaged core...no bending at waist.

You can use this same style to practice at a walking pace too.

Barefooting itself is all about mindfulness and presence. Running
like a Monkey, not like a Robot. Aware of your body and your
environment AT ALL TIMES. Listen to your body...learn to hear what it
is telling you. Adjust accordingly. Advance accordingly.

Thanks, Ted for passing on what you've learned!

Edgar's Barcelona Segway Tours in VFF KSOs

Edgar's Barcelona Segway Tours in VFF KSOs

Edgar ("dardo" on the forums) recently picked up some black Vibram fivefinger KSOs and has been wearing them to work — giving Segway tours of Barcelona!

I asked Edgar how VFFs worked with the Segway and also what kind of reactions he was getting from his fellow Barcelonians. Here's what he had to say:

The shoes did affect my segway driving, I used to have a comfort mat on my segway, a padded platform so your feet do not hurt. After using the segway for a few days I took the comfort mat out, it is uncomfortable now and I no longer need [it] :)

As for people seeing my shoes, most of the time they do not see them due to the segway, which is fairly spectacular on it's own. Also Spanish people are not that open and most of the times will look but not ask. Most of my customers do ask about them and surprisingly to me a few of them knew about them and the father of one american lady had a pair of VFFs.

On a personal note I have been wearing my KSOs for about 3 weeks non stop now. I feel my feet stronger now and the soles are also much more resistant. Last week I did a half hour run at a nearby park and I felt lighter than last time I had been running (about 4 years ago due to knee pains), also less tired and no pains during the running session nor next days. I am quite excited because I believe I will be able to run again, and only with the VFFs of course!

A Spanish newspaper (El Periodico - pdf) also interviewed Edgar about his tours, and in the photo they published, similar to the one above, Edgar is sporting his VFFs.

Here's Edgar's Barcelona Segway Tours website. Edgar added that anyone who shows up to do a tour in fivefingers will get a 50% discount.

So anyone want to do a VFF meet-up in Spain? Let's go!

Library Director to run Collingswood Book Festival 5K Race in his VFFs

Brett Bonfield, the director of Collingswood Public Library in New Jersey (just outside of Philadelphia), sent in a note to let me know he is training to run in the Collingswood Book Festival 5K Race to Raise Money for New Teen Area in the Library on September 26, 2009.

Brett will be running the race in his Vibram fivefinger Classics, which are prominently featured in the promotional video the library shot for the race (below). The video is done in a silent film style — Brett is shown running through town (VFFed!) in order to help a guy caught beneath a tree branch return a book. Along the way, Brett saves a few teens from reckless behavior by giving them good books to read!

By the way, the race has an interesting catch — all runners who "Beat the Director" will be given back $10 of their $25 registration fee (all proceeds from the race go to setting up a teen area in the Library).

For more details, check out the Collingswood Public Library website!

Best of luck, Brett!

Noah explores Newfoundland in his KSO Five Fingers

(click any for a larger version)

Got the above photos from Noah taken on a recent trip he took to Newfoundland, Canada with his wife Heather. As you can see, Noah wore his KSO fivefingers across various terrain to hike, fish, explore and, eventually, sneak up on some wildlife in Gros Morne National Park. Here's Noah:

This summer my wife I were lucky to spend a few weeks in Newfoundland, Canada but in particular Gros Morne National Park.

I wore my VFFs on a variety of hikes. The Green Gardens hike was a 9 km return trip strenuous hike on primarily sharp jagged rocks. While the VFFs held up well, the my feet certainly did hurt at the time. It was pretty painful but I put on a tough face! However I experienced no pain or anything afterwards. Not to mention the numerous people along the path who stopped me to ask about the shoes.

I also wore the shoes on various other trips and hikes in Gros Morne without any issues. Needless to say, the VFF's were fantastic! I've been running in them more than ever and enjoying them more with every step. I still find them difficult to wear in public mostly because I'm stopped so frequently with questions or comments.

Check out the moose that popped out of the trees just a few feet in front of us!

Cheers
Noah

Here is the moose Noah mentioned:

I've found that just as fivefingers enable you to be more nimble on your feet, they also enable "stealth" movement. I've snuck up on plenty of squirrels and a couple of hawks while bounding about some local woods. No moose though!

Looks like Noah and Heather had quite a beautiful trip. Thanks for passing these shots along!