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!

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall (Review)

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall (Review)

I challenge anyone to read Christopher McDougall's Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen and not be inspired—to run, to be healthy, to be, well just, better.

Born to Run is about McDougall's investigative adventure into the world of running, ultramarathons, the shoe industry, and the Tarahumara Indians, a seclusive group of "superathletes" known for their running endurance and speed. The tale begins with a question, "How come my foot hurts?" and ends with a race between a few elite ultrarunners and the Tarahumara Indians in the Copper Canyons of Mexico. In between are a number of answers, questions, and challenges.

It was difficult to put Born to Run down. The book is simultaneously thrilling and informative. It not only recaptures the excitement of past distance running races (like the 1995 Leadville 100), but it also tells the backstories of BtR's protagonists — Ann Trason, Ken Chlouber, Caballo Blanco (or "Micah True"), "Barefoot Ted" McDonald, Scott Jurek, Jenn "Mookie" Shelton and Billy "Bonehead" Barnett. Even still, the book serves as an indictment of the running shoe industry, specifically Nike, while also laying out a compelling case that human beings evolved to be runners—chasing prey down, out-enduring them via the persistence hunt. At under 300 pages Born to Run, like the runners and races it describes, covers a lot of ground quickly.

Perhaps one of the most inspirational paragraphs from Born to Run contains the book's title:

Distance running was revered because it was indispensable; it was the way we survived and thrived and spread across the planet. You ran to eat and to avoid being eaten; you ran to find a mate and impress her, and with her you ran off to start a new life together. You had to love running, or you wouldn't live to love anything else. And like everything else we love—everything we sentimentally call our "passions" and "desires"—it's really an encoded ancestral necessity. We were born to run; we were born because we run. We're all Running People, as the Tarahumara have always known.

Born to Run is one of those rare books that captures within its pages an authentic human experience and conveys that experience directly to the reader. It's a book in which you are awed by superhuman athletes while still seeing their core humanity. And therein is one of McDougall's primary takeaways: every human being was born to run, the design being coded within our DNA.

Since this book review is for the Vibram fivefingers fan community, I'd be remiss not to note that BtR gives a hearty mention regarding VFFs, specifically via Barefoot Ted, who apparently inspired Vibram USA's CEO, Tony Post, to go for a run in his fivefingers. I'm guessing this was back in early 2006. "El Mono" (Barefoot Ted) also made use of his fivefingers at various times during his trek to race with the Tarahumara. And as previously noted on this site, Christopher McDougall seems to enjoy his fivefingers for running these days, too.

Conclusion: BtR is a fantastic read, and I whole-heartedly recommend it. More than anything, I expect this book to spawn the next generation of runners, and I'm optimistic that it will take barefooting (or pseudo-barefooting/minimalist footwear) mainstream. Born to Run is yet another step in a more general movement towards acquiring a higher understanding of what it means and requires to be human.

Thank you to Christopher McDougall for telling this tale: it needed to be told!

If you'd like to snag Born to Run, just click this link to pick it up from Amazon.com.

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!

Additional reading:

Latest Vibram Five Fingers Reviews 7/05/09

Attention! If you haven't sent in your "Free Feet for the Fourth Photos" yet, please do so (email them to pics at birthdayshoes dot com)! I'm going to keep accepting them throughout today with a full blog post on Monday!

And this week's latest reviews of Vibram Five Fingers:

  • Vibram Five Fingers Sprint Review at Nic Myers:

    I have flat feet and I’ve been known to drag my feet and wear out the back of my shoes. I also have problems with my posture and my back being sore. While they are not a miracle fix for the issues, since I have been wearing the shoes my posture and back have noticeably improved. I also don’t have the problem of dragging my feet anymore. The fact that your feet are getting stronger while wearing them is a huge perk for me. I’ve never felt like my feet have been in better condition.

  • Vibram Five Fingers shoes at falaris.com:

    I cannot recommend VFFs highly enough. They are a little more expensive than normal shoes, or sometimes right on par with shoes, depending on what brands you buy ... And the fact that it took the pain in my ankle away and helped my back pain is priceless. These shoes are one of the best investments I’ve made in my life.

  • Gear Review: Vibram’s FiveFingers KSO (Keep Stuff Out) at SouthernHiker.com:

    In the first three weeks of having these shoes, they have been worn in the snow of Yellowstone, the desert in Arches, in the swimming pool in Georgia, during a soccer game I was playing/coaching in, at the grocery store, the beach in Florida, and along creek beds in the Georgia Mountains. With the exception of the grocery store and in the snow, these shoes have not only been comfortable, they have been exceptionally functional in all of those situations.

  • Vibram Five Fingers – Barefoot at junglegirl:

    And when you just can’t go barefoot, try these shoes: Vibram’s Five Fingers. They do not assist grounding but they will re-align your posture and correct the alignment of your toes in the same way walking barefoot all day will. ( See the many YouTube videos and Google for blog posts that explain further the many benefits and body mechanics of wearing Five Fingers.)

  • Reebok Taikan IB vs Vibram Five Fingers at Clinton Lake Ultra:

    These are perfect companions for POSE or ChiRunning. I encourage you to try these shoes. Why not give your toes some freedom on this Independence Day? Remember the sizing is a bit odd...I wear a size 13 shoe and ended up with size 46 in the Vibrams. They have a chart on their web site to guide you through the sizing process. I give this shoe a 5-star rating!

  • Natural Walking and a Vibram Five Fingers Experiment at Hozaku — showing that VFFs aren't for everyone:

    I got the Five Fingers out of the trunk to give it another go. This time I gave it a full three weeks. I started out at a mile and experienced the same hot-spot and blister problem as before. I gritted my teeth. If they worked for Tim they'd work for me. Three days a week, slowly tying to extend back up to my normal 2 miles. The result?

    I'm back in my wrestling shoes.

    My feet did get tougher, but despite thick ridges of callous building up in the areas indicated on the image above, the Five Fingers were just too uncomfortable. A few times I found myself far enough out and, not wanting to endure the Five Fingers any more, pulling them off and finishing my run barefoot.

Remember, if I missed any, be sure to let me know so I can add them to the list!

Free your Feet for the Fourth!

For those U.S. VFFers* out there who are making holiday plans — watching fireworks, grilling out, and/or throwing back a beer or three — in remembrance of Independence Day (July the Fourth), I'd like to throw out a request: enjoy a bit of foot freedom.

After all, what's more freeing than emancipating your toes from the confines of restrictive, controlling shoes? And since it's my contention that the fundamental mode for human beings is to be independent, free individuals, being shoe-less in a shoe-filled world is a tiny celebration of what it means to be human.

So here's your task: Either wear your fivefingers while you're out and about on the 4th or go full-foot-freedom and be barefoot!

Then, if you're feeling frisky and have a digital camera handy (With camera phones being the rule these days and not the exception, who doesn't?), snap a "birthday shoes" shot of your freed feet and email it to me!

On Sunday, I'll compile these photos and post them here.

Free your Feet for the Fourth!


* For all the VFFers out there who aren't in the U.S., it goes without saying that you have every reason to free your feet at any time. And if you do just that this weekend, please send in a photo!

The ground beneath your V5F feet

Perhaps one of the most common Vibram fivefingers photos out there is the overhead photo of your VFFing feet. A good number of the five finger photos on this site have been taken from that angle.

However, rarely has the focus of these pictures been anything other than the shoes themselves (Exceptions V5Fs at Fenway, Rafting). Enter in Elise McIntosh's photoset on flickr titled "Crystal City Beneath Five Fingers:"

Mental_floss blogged about the set:

So my friend Elise McIntosh was on a business trip in Crystal City (near Washington, DC), and decided to take a walk. She wears these crazy shoes called Vibram Five Fingers — which I refer to as “the gorilla feet.” Anyway, she looked down at one point and noticed that on a short walk, she was walking over all kinds of interesting-looking patterns. So she started taking pictures and posting them on Flickr, in a set called Crystal City Beneath Five Fingers.

It's a neat twist to the standard VFF self-taken photo. If anyone else decides to do this, send me a link and I can add it to this post!

Vibram Five Fingers Cortina Seen?

Vibram Five Fingers Cortina Seen?

Click the image above for a larger version

Or is this some sort of "Big Foot" version of FiveFingers?

Update: Word is that the Cortina, little more than a prototype in the above photo, will likely not see the light of day. Maybe that is good thing! Either way, we'll never know!

Update 2: At least a few pairs made it into production (and by a few, I mean probably less than a 100 but that's a guess) and one fan reviewed the Cortina Vibram FiveFingers for BirthdayShoes!

Original post:

A fan of the official fivefingers facebook page posted the above picture with the accompanying caption:

mis nuevas fivefingers de invierno :)

Which, translated from Spanish to English means, "my new winter fivefingers." As the post was made by "Amanda," I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that this is the new Vibram FiveFingers Cortina, described previously as:

For women, a midcut, fully [lined] winter boot

Based on a little process of elimination as well as trying to marry together disparate bits of intell, my best guess is that this is the Cortina and not some new fivefingers "Big Foot" model.

Bringing all the existing intelligence on the newest additions to the fivefingers family together and making some unconfirmed educated guesses, here is what we've got:

As for the "Moc" and "Performa," both of which were mentioned in the FN blurb, my hunch is that the "Moc" was renamed the "Glove." That leaves the Performa as a lingering unknown.

Here's one wild guess, just as the Glove is like a kangaroo-leather, "pod"-soled version of the Classic, perhaps the Performa is similarly similar to the KSO. In other words, the Performa may be a kangaroo-leather, fully-covered VFF, not unlike the Trek, but without the extra padding and insulated suede.

Hopefully, we'll know more soon. If you hear anything (or see anything), please let me know!

Other posts regarding new Vibram FiveFingers models:

Patrick goes rafting on the Ocoee River in KSO Vibram Five Fingers

Patrick goes rafting on the Ocoee River in KSO Vibram Five Fingers

Got a couple great Five Fingers photos in from Vibram Five Fingers KSO fan Patrick. The pics were taken while rafting the Ocoee River. Here's what Patrick had to say about whitewater rafting wearing Vibram Five Fingers:

Just got my brown KSO's this past Friday in time to go camping Friday night and rafting on the Ocoee on Saturday. Attached are two pics (one mine from a waterproof disposable, one taken by the outfitter's pro photog on shore ...) featuring the shoes. I wasn't the only one; one of the guides and one of the other rafters were also wearing VFFs in our group of boats.

I took my shot in Bush Gardens just after the put-in for the Upper. The pro shot was taken at Humongous in the Olympic Section.

So far, the shoes are great. Keep up the good work keeping us informed with the blog!

Glad to do it! Thanks for sending in the photos!

Good to see that you don't need Flows to take to the river — KSO Vibram Five Fingers (Keep Stuff Out) serve the purpose fine!