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

Erin Swimming in Natural Pools in Hawaii in Vibram Five Fingers

Erin Swimming in Natural Pools in Hawaii in Vibram Five Fingers

Erin sent in the above photo of her jumping into a natural pool. The "birthday shoes shot" was taken on Moku Nui, an island off the coast of Hawaii. Here's what Erin had to say:

I'm in my KSO's on the island of Moku Nui, which is one of the two twin Mokulua Islands off the coast of O'ahu, Hawai'i. The island is a seabird sanctuary and is accessible only by sea kayak. I'm jumping into a pool on the island called the Queen's Bath. It was an amazing trip!!


Looks like you had a great time (and that cliff you're stepping off looks awfully high up to me!). Thanks for sharing, Erin!

Latest Vibram Five Fingers Reviews 9/13/09

This week's VFF reviews:

  • Review: Vibram FiveFingers Shoes at SparrowRose [KSO]:

    Walking barefoot is like listening with naked ears. Walking in traditional shoes is like having that big, muffling, home stereo set of headphones on your head. Walking in Vibram FiveFingers is like a little bit of cotton held over your ears. It's close to barefoot -- much, much closer than traditional shoes -- but, to use horseshoes vernacular, it's not a ringer.

  • Vibram Five Fingers at LifeofJustin [Sprints]:

    It’s amazing how much different the ground feels when you are wearing these. You really notice the terrain more. When I’m walking on grass, it feels like I’m walking on grass. The same goes for dirt, concrete, and so on. It seems to bring you closer to nature, which is an amazing feeling.
    I plan on wearing these as my every day shoes due to how comfortable they are. I’m now used to getting a few weird looks and an occasional question from a stranger so I’m no longer worried about that.

Fivefinger Sprints aplenty and a pair of KSOs

Note: Thanks to the flurry of traffic from Vibram's kind mentioning of BirthdayShoes on facebook yesterday, I got a number of photos and stories from VFFers! So stay tuned as I work through all these updates!

First was this photo snapped by Martin a few weeks back at Kennesaw Mountain (here in Georgia!). The sprints pictured therein are, clockwise from the bottom, of Martin (navy camo VFF Sprints), Martin's girlfriend Melissa sporting the no longer produced orange and white (I think) VFF Sprints, and then Kelley in the "slate/lichen" VFF Sprints!

Next up is "Big Dave" in his (also no longer produced - these are soon to be vintage!) blue/aqua/grey VFF Sprints. As Dave put it, he was making "big foot tracks in the rain!"

Last but not least, we have James who was in attendance at the Flight 93 memorial service yesterday:

Thanks for sending in your shots! And stay tuned for other fivefinger stories that I'll be posting shortly!

First trail run in Vibram fivefingers KSO Trek

Be sure and check out the 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.

VFF KSO Trek trail run — First impressions

I did about a 30 minute run through a local natural park (a lot of doubling back and just messing around) in the fivefingers KSO Trek last night (Sans socks). Overall conclusion: the KSO Treks performed well thanks to a sturdier, more rugged and grippy Vibram sole, which conquered mud, gravel, and varied trail terrain. They are more water resistant than the KSO and seem to clean pretty easily (and dry over a reasonable timeframe). Further testing will, of course, be required!

Note: Vibram fivefingers "KSO Treks" below are referred to as "Treks;" standard KSOs just "KSOs." This is to avoid confusion as below I make a number of comparisons are made between the two.

Specific tests and observations

Creekbed, gravel, water: I ran back and forth through a creekbed a number of times to get a feel for various gravel sizes and water absorption. Water got in fairly readily at the toes; however, water didn't get in at all through the top. The kangaroo leather seems to do an excellent job keeping water out (KWO?). Overall, less water got in with the Treks than with the KSOs. More on this later.

As for gravel, the slightly stiffer and more aggressive sole seemed to glom together gravel a bit more: rolling gravel beneath your feet didn't "pinch" as much. However, and I'm not a regular runner or a trail runner nor have I done a full barefoot run, it seems to me the trick in conquering gravel is less about the shoe and more about relaxing your feet and not tensing up your ankle, which goes for KSO and Trek alike.

Trail debris: I hopped up large fallen trees and over logs. Grip seemed a bit improved though this is too close to really say. Roots and one-off ground protrusions were a bit more forgiving though still felt.

Ascents and descents: I ran up a couple steep ascents. Here is where I noticed a big difference: the KSO Treks got me up one ascent (50% grade? Maybe more) that I'm pretty sure would have owned the regular KSOs. It was muddy and soft, but the Treks dug in and got me up without me falling flat on my face and sliding down the muddy slope.

As for descents, both low grade, fast descents were confidence inspiring. High-grade descents that I took slower (angling steps downward) also felt stronger than with KSOs.

Mud: In both cases, there was definitely mud uptake from the lugged soles; nothing too bad and it seemed to clear fairly well on its own accord.

Asphalt: I also ran on asphalt (streets) for about a quarter mile at the beginning and end (gotta get to the park!); Treks handled the asphalt fine.

Cleaning and more on water resistance: After, I went ahead and washed them with water in a sink. I ran water from the sink straight into the top of the Treks with my hand inside to feel for permeation. Water was not getting through though the kangaroo suede was turning darker. Next test: I just started filling the Trek up with water to see what would happen. Sure enough, water started blowing up the Trek like a balloon (Reminded me of a bota bag) with points of seepage at the seams and then a sort of bubbling out of water through the synthetic side material (on the left and right of each toe).

This waterproofing made removing the little debris from the inside of the Treks very easy to remove: just fill up the Treks with a little bit of water and then pour it out like rinsing a glass. Big difference here as compared with the KSOs. They seemed pretty easy to clean (though I didn't bother getting too "granular" on getting all dirt out of the tread).

Finally, after the drenching I gave them at around 6pm last night, I hung them to dry in the laundry room. As of 9am this morning, they were dry.

Initial test conclusion: Initial testing of the KSO Treks was positive and I think anyone who wants to use them for trail running or hiking will be pleased.

Long-term use and long-distance use will, of course, require a good deal of further testing and feedback!

Previous posts on the KSO Trek

Official Announcement on New fivefingers Models Released!

You can read it on the official Vibram fivefingers facebook page!

The note lists the three new models, the men's KSO Trek (First look!), men's Moc, and women's Performa, and provides a brief description — the same info that was posted here on birthdayshoes.com back on August 22!. In addition, it tells us that they will be available at retailers in the next week (or two).

Finally, an additional note mentions information about them on vibramfivefingers.com will be available in October.


Vibram FiveFingers KSO Trek Unboxed [First Look!]

Vibram FiveFingers KSO Trek Unboxed [First Look!]

Be sure and check out the 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.

Updated 9/10/09: See added photos below!

The fivefingers fairy surprised me today with a sneak peak at the brand new Vibram Five Fingers KSO Trek barefoot trail shoes! Here is my unboxing and first look:

Apologies for any video clunkiness (as in, the little section where you can't see my KSO Trek-clad feet and the abrupt ending). 16:9 HD video plus wanting to get this to you guys as soon as possible meant taking the video as it was!

Photos of the Vibram FiveFingers KSO Trek

First impressions

The kangaroo leather is smooth and buttery and looks so fancy I hardly want to get them dirty (though I must!). The leather is quite thin but feels strong. As for breathable-ness, after having worn them for a short walk here in Atlanta (Around 80 degrees Fahrenheit), my feet feel cool and dry. My toes feel very nice and cool, in particular. The sole of my foot against the smooth leather inner is particularly nice.

For a slew of information about the leather used in the KSO Trek, check this info-page from PackerLeather on their K-100 high performance leather. In brief, and there's a tag that came with the KSO Treks that talk about this, the K-100 kangaroo leather is billed as providing extreme strength, perspiration resistance, high water vapour permeability, high color fastness, and has an "microblok" anti-microbial treatment. Regarding water resistance, tag notes that the K-100 "leather dries faster" and has only 28% water uptake after 60 minutes (as compared to 235% water uptake for "non water resistant leather").

Aside from the use of leather, the Trek also employs the standard, thin synthetic material to line the sides (not the top) of the Trek, which I imagine reinforces the leather somewhat at the ankle. Additionally, as some had asked, the sides of each toe slot are the synthetic material.

The aggressively lugged KSO Trek sole maintains flexibility while still looking sufficiently "beefy." One open concern among VFFers regarding the Trek revolved around the added thickness and aggressiveness of the Trek's tread—would it impeded the minimalist design of VFFs? The proof will be in the pudding—that is, extensive field-testing by you guys—based on an initial inspection, the Trek is very flexible, similar to what you already expect across the fivefingers line. Toes can still easily bend, particularly upwards, which is pivotal for functionality. This is even as the toes employ a thick-ridged design.

As for the addition of EVA, on light use if I didn't know it was there, I would assume it wasn't. In other words, I don't notice the EVA. I still feel the variations in the ground outside. Interestingly, what I don't feel through the sole is the variations of the Trek tread, itself. I've no idea how they pulled off this feat of VFF design, but it works.

Like the tread, the effect of the EVA will be made clear on additional use. Of course, Barefoot Ted has sung the praise of both the EVA and the tread, so there is that.

Overall, my initial impression is that the ">KSO Trek will make a strong addition to the Vibram fivefingers line-up as a rugged barefoot alternative for trail running or hiking! And I can't wait to take them out for a spin in a nearby natural park! Even still, dressed in silky smooth kangaroo leather, they are the fanciest looking VFFs yet, so no doubt plenty of people will want to use them for dressier occasions.

You can read my full review of the KSO Trek here.

As for availability, I can only surmise that receiving this today means that these are going to be out and available very soon — maybe within a week? Stay tuned!

Update: the KSO Trek is available now! You can find a KSO Trek retailer online here.