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!

Vibram Five Fingers, Fjords, and Fjell

Vibram Five Fingers, Fjords, and Fjell
Vibram Five Fingers, Fjords, and Fjell
Vibram Five Fingers, Fjords, and Fjell

Received the above photos of Mark taken at various places in Norway (Top to bottom: a fjord on the island of Tustna, on the top of Jørenvågsalen, and on the top of Fjellstua). Here's what Mark had to say:

I have enclosed some pictures of me in my five fingers KSO's taken during my trip to Norway this summer. (Fjell is Norwegian for mountain). I wore them for most of the time, including climbing two peaks of nearly 3,000 feet, canoeing, and trekking through forests. They handled everything well, although it would have been nice to have a pair of the new treks for the mountain descents...the thin KSO sole did mean I had to tread extra carefully so as not to bruise my feet on the way down. All in all I was very impressed with them as an outdoor shoe, it confirmed what I already suspected - these things are brilliant!

The three photos are:

- Near the boat houses on the fjord on the island of Tustna

- On top of Jørenvågsalen, the second highest mountain on Tustna

- On top of Fjellstua, a small mountain overlooking the city of Ålesund

Thanks,
Mark

You can spot a "Pantheist" t-shirt in the top picture — that is Mark's band.

Thanks, Mark!

Latest Vibram Five Fingers Reviews 8/23/09

Below are the past week's latest reviews of Vibram Five Fingers:

  • FiveFingers in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness at Whole Health Source [Sprints]:

    I had a few converstions with my parkour instructor Rafe Kelley, during which I realized I had to re-teach myself how to walk and run correctly. Rafe is well-versed in natural human movement due to his background in MovNat, gymnastics, martial arts, strength training, parkour and anthropology. Modern shoes allow us to walk and run in a way that our bodies did not evolve to tolerate. The padding in shoes allows us to take large steps, in which we overshoot our center of gravity and contact the ground in a jarring manner. It also allows us to strike with our heels when we run, which is not comfortable when you're barefoot.

  • Vibram Five Fingers at tri life adventure [Classics]:

    The beauty of these shoes is that they essentially allow you to run barefoot without the hassle of dodging thorns, shards of glass and other vagaries that render true barefoot running impractical. There is also no doubt about the effects of a bad foot strike as the pain is immediate but after a few minutes you find the sweet spot and from there you could basically run all day.

Order the Vibram FiveFingers KSO Trek, the Moc, and Performa!

Be sure and check out the Vibram Five Fingers KSO Trek review!

The review covers the KSO Trek's design (sole attributes and thickness), aesthetic, performance, fit, and more. You can read it by going here.

The Five Fingers KSO Trek, Moc, and Performa

Update: The KSO Trek, Moc, and Performa are available at local retailers! You can also grab them at KayakShed or hunt down a pair via the birthdayshoes store!

Thus far, the KSO Trek has been reviewed here. Also, see the first look at the fivefingers KSO Trek, including video and photos here. See my thoughts after an initial trail run in the fivefingers KSO Treks here.

Finally, for an ongoing discussion on pre-orders and general ordering of the new Vibram fivefinger models, see this forum discussion!

———end of notes and updates———

I'm excited to announce that John over at Kayak Shed is now taking pre-orders for the Vibram FiveFingers KSO Trek, the FiveFingers Moc, and the FiveFingers Performa!

These three new models are the latest fivefingers designs from Vibram. Each was created to address specific requests from fivefinger users. Specifically:

the Vibram Five Fingers KSO Trek

click either pic for a larger version

The KSO Trek employs the most aggressive Vibram fivefingers sole yet, 4mm of stone-bruising protective EVA midsole, and a tear/sweat/bacteria-resistant kangaroo leather upper to make for the most rugged and durable answer to trail running, hiking, cold-exposure and general outdoor use yet — all while "keeping stuff out."

The Five Fingers KSO Trek is available in black and brown and retails at $124.99. KSO Treks are size according to the existing KSO specifications (Help on sizing five fingers here). Read the full KSO Trek review here.

Get the KSO Trek at KayakShed or or hunt down a pair via the birthdayshoes store!

the Vibram fivefingers Moc

click either pic for a larger version

The Vibram fivefingers Moc is a male-specific VFF that utilizes seven distinctive Vibram rubber pods (with the heel, ball, and each toe receiving their own individualized sole) all while providing the flexibility, tear resistance, breathability, and comfort of kangaroo leather. The Moc is the closest thing to a true "foot glove" yet. Finally, the Moc has a slightly higher front lip (or "vamp") making them quite the svelte men's VFF. Could someone get these and wear them to a black-tie event already?

The ultra-flexible Moc is intended for use indoors — yoga, martial arts, weight-lifting, CrossFit, James Bond-like espionage, etc. You can see my unboxing and first look at the five fingers Moc here.

The Moc is available in blue and black and retails for $109.99. The Moc effectively sizes the same as the Classics.

Get the fivefingers Moc at KayakShed! Or find a pair via major Vibram Five Fingers retailers online at the store!

the Vibram fivefingers Performa

click either pic for a larger version

The Vibram fivefingers Performa is a women's specific "foot glove" like the VFF Moc. It employs the seven-part podded Vibram sole technology whereby the heel, midfoot, and each toe gets its own, individualized "sole" and the entire casing of the Performa is constructed of kangaroo leather. The primary difference is aesthetic: the Performa has the more typical VFF design with a lower arching front lip (or "vamp") as opposed to the higher vamp of the Moc.

And they simply look rad.

The Performa is an indoor-specific fivefingers model which can be used for any indoor activity under the sun — including yoga, martial arts, pilates, weight-lifting, and CrossFit, just to name a few.

The fivefingers Performa is available in coral, violet, or black and retails at $109.99. The Performa sizes the same as Classic fivefingers.

Get the Five Fingers Performa at KayakShed or hunt down a pair via the birthdayshoes store!

Lynn's Half-Marathon in Vibram Five Finger KSOs

Vibram Five Fingers fan Lynn photoed above runs the Chicago Rock N' Roll Half Marathon.  Lynn's transition to Vibrams took four months.
Vibram Five Fingers fan Lynn photoed above runs the Chicago Rock N' Roll Half Marathon. Lynn's transition to Vibrams took four months.

Lynn emailed in about hitting a personal record (PR) on the recent Rock'N'Roll Chicago half-marathon, the first he's completed wearing his Vibram blue camo fivefinger KSOs. Lynn said:

This was my fifth ½ marathon this year and the first in my VFF’s. This was also my PR for this distance. The time for the other four ½ marathons (all in shod) were: 1:52, 1:51, 1:54, 1:57 (run the day after the 1:54 ½ marathon). I ran this one in 1:47 which beat my previous PR for this distance by more than a minute.

This photo was taken around mile 3 which was in the Chicago loop. The last half of the race takes place along the lakefront. The bibs indicate the starting corral you were assigned. I was assigned the 4th corral. The guy behind me was assigned the 3rd corral and I beat him by over 10 minutes (not that I checked).

My DW doesn’t think it’s the VFF’s. She thinks it’s my conditioning. I think my conditioning is because I’ve been converting over to running in the VFF’s for the last four months.

Congratulations on reaching a new PR, and I think I'm going to take your side — it's gotta be the improved running technique afforded by the near-barefoot running of VFFs!

Thanks for sharing!

Shawn's Gone Fishing in Black KSO Five Fingers

Shawn's Gone Fishing in Black KSO Five Fingers
Shawn's Gone Fishing in Black KSO Five Fingers

The above photos were taken by Shawn, who has used his fivefinger KSOs not only to fish atop lake rocks, but also for camping, hiking, canoeing and portage, and running. Here's what Shawn had to say:

Justin, Your site prompted me to order KSO's a few weeks ago. I've used them to run a 5k and do a landscape project at home as well as everyday wear. The attachments are photos from a five day canoe trip to Quetico. I can no longer imagine wearing regular shoes to hike, portage and just walk around campsites. Oh yeah, fishing off of rocks is a great use too! Cheers, Shawn

Ah nothing like the quiet relaxation of fishing. Looks like you're making good use of your birthday shoes, Shawn! Glad you are enjoying them!

Chris McDougall interviewed by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. Wearing black Fivefinger KSOs?

Be sure and check out my interview with Christopher McDougall!

In it, Chris talks about denying your nature, the sports shoe industry, getting to barefoot, cross-pollinating ideas, and more!

Last night Born to Run author Christopher McDougall was interviewed by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. The interview, which went on for a hearty six minutes, gave Christopher the opportunity to talk not only about some of the themes within his bestselling book but also about the plight of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico.

It seems the Mexican government is not only paving new roads down into the Copper Canyons, but also standing idly by as this infrastructure is used by Mexican drug cartels to plant crops and further their drug trade.

It is tragic that the Tarahumara — a non-violent people who only fled to the perilously uninhabitable Copper Canyons to escape the conquistadors some 500 years ago — are now finding the Mexican government/Mexican drug cartels at their doorstep, ready to finish the job the Spanish started 400 years ago. Kudos to McDougall for talking about this plight in his interview.

In a moment of levity at the end of the interview, Jon Stewart sums up McDougall's book as simultaneously taking on the Mexican drug cartels and the American sneaker cartels. Is Stewart so wrong? Here is the exchange:

McDougall: The shoes are the root of the problem. Without the shoes you can run painlessly and joyfully forever.

Stewart: So the amazing thing is that this book basically takes on the Mexican drug cartels and the American sneaker cartels.

McDougall: That's it!

Here's the video:

Christopher McDougall on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Christopher McDougall on the Daily ShowNow, in addition to a great interview that will assuredly make Born to Run even more popular, it seems that Christopher McDougall was sporting black KSO fivefingers in the interview! Just look at this screencap and note how his downward pointing foot is curved — regular shoes don't look like that — like jet black feet*!

Truth be told, I was tipped off to this VFF sighting through the official Vibram FiveFingers facebook page — the black KSOs just blend in so well it's hard to notice them unawares! Of course, Jon Stewart also failed to notice McDougall's unconventional footwear, but then again, the all black KSOs blend well with slacks — particularly in "dress mode."

As you might recall, McDougall described running in VFFs via this previous YouTube interview; however, via an even more recent podcast from Brandon's Marathon, we learned that McDougall now runs predominantly if not totally barefoot. If you've not got time to wade through the podcast, you can also read what McDougall had to say about his "busted toe" experience and his transition to barefooting in a Q&A over at Zen and the Barefoot Joggler here.

So it's good to see he's still getting some use out of his VFFs!

In the event any of you readers can put me in touch with Mr. McDougall, I'd love to get him to do a birthday shoes interview!

Other posts about Christopher McDougall and Born to Run:

* Maybe I should add "Mr. Deed's Feet" to the alternative names for fivefingers list.