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

New Balance Minimus Zero Has Got No Sole

A couple close-ups of the outsole on the 2012 New Balance NB Minimus Zero Trail (left) and Road (right).
A couple close-ups of the outsole on the 2012 New Balance NB Minimus Zero Trail (left) and Road (right). Both feature Vibram rubber "pods" that are separated from each other to improve sole flexibility while adding some rubber protection at high points of impact.

Or at least, it only has rubber sole where it counts. Or it's got a holy sole.

That's the messaging coming from New Balance regarding their upcoming NB Minimus Zero barefoot/minimalist running shoe slated for release in 2012. The latest official news (You can spy some images of the NB Minimus Zero Trail and Road in this previous post) the NB Minimus Zero line is being released today from New Balance, and the subject is sole patterns from wear tested pairs of their Minimus line — and how those wear patterns were the basis behind the podded placement of the Vibram rubber on the Minimus Zero outsole.

Video and more after the jump!

Read the rest of this post »

Hiking the Smoky Mountains in Toe Shoes

Nathan sports his KSO FiveFingers (and takes along his Merrell Barefoot Trail Gloves) on a hike to the top of Mt. Leconte in Tennessee.  Note his wife sporting the Merrell Barefoot Pace Gloves!
Nathan sports his KSO FiveFingers (and takes along his Merrell Barefoot Trail Gloves) on a hike to the top of Mt. Leconte in Tennessee. Note his wife sporting the Merrell Barefoot Pace Gloves!

In the reader mailbag (a few weeks back!) I got the following note from FiveFingers fan Nathan on his KSOs:

This past week I hiked with my wife and some of my family to the top of Mt. Leconte in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. I wore my VFF KSO's for the whole 12 mile round trip with my Merrell Trail Gloves strapped to my backpack as my backup shoes. =) Other than some hotspots which BodyGlide took care of I had no problems climbing the 2700+ vertical feet to the 6593 ft peak and back. I love my VFF's and I certainly enjoy hiking in them. I have been wearing them for about one year now and enjoy using them for cutting grass, errands, etc. I also enjoy the blog and check it frequently!

PS. My wife wore her Merrell Pace Gloves and enjoyed the hike as well. She won't use VFF's because of how they look. =)

Thanks,
Nathan

I'm a big fan of hiking in FiveFingers, too. The added dimension of feeling the varied terrain through your feet amplifies the experience with nature.

Thanks for sharing, Nathan!

FiveFingers Speed at the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX)

FiveFingers Speed at the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX)
Tom sports his Speed FiveFingers at the Penny Arcade Expo between two Halo chiefs!

Tom a.k.a. "Tommodore64" took his Speed FiveFingers to the Penny Arcade Expo—or "PAX"— recently and saw 50+ other Vibram fans sporting their toe shoes over the course of the three day event — that's gotta be some kinda record outside of a minimalist/barefoot running specific event! Here's Tom's account of the weekend:

I spent August 26th - 28th at PAX (That's Penny Arcade Expo: Gaming convention for those not in the know) and wore my Speed LS VFFs the whole time! I got asked about them a few times in line (there was a lot of standing in lines) waiting for game demos. Odd thing, was that people asked me more about the socks I wore in them (injinji no show liners) more than the shoes themselves.

I wasn't the only one VFF-ing it at PAX either. I saw probably fifty or sixty people over the course of the three day event in various models.

Last year I wore normal shoes and my feet were killing me by the end of day three. This time, it made such a difference to wear my Speeds!!

On a side note, its great that even the USNC from the HALO universe are embracing civilians and barefooting it on HALO. :-)

- Tommodore64

Awesome to hear the Speeds—er perhaps better said, allowing your feet to be a bit more free—made for a less painful PAX experience this year!

Thanks for sharing!

Administrative note: you may have noticed a cutback in our user-submitted stories over the past few months. We've been working through trying to balance day-jobs and site maintenance whilst having some challenging circumstances. Things haven't "changed" per se, but we're trying to adapt! Anyway, no guarantees we will post your VFF, minimalist, or barefoot story, but keep'em coming!

Toe Shoes, Toe Strength, and the Power of Bare Feet

Can you spread your toes out like a two week old baby?  Can you pick stuff up off the ground?  Do you have strong toes?
Can you spread your toes out like a two week old baby? Can you pick stuff up off the ground? Do you have strong toes?

The following was submitted by "Orka" as a comment to our post on "Why Toe Shoes?"

I think I am one of the rare individuals who not only grew up barefoot, but did so in the rugged wilderness of Northern California. Throughout the summers of my childhood, up to age 17, I spent every summer barefoot, and I hiked cross-country everywhere. I even ran downhill over jagged, loose, rocky steep hillsides, leaping in the air and landing sideways (deliberately, to surf/slide/ride the rubble downhill) with bare feet. It was possible because the ground was giving way and I had thick pads on my feet. I loved running, downhill, cross-country, and was a natural fast runner, good at both sprinting and long-distance.

Reading through the article [Why Toe Shoes?] and comments, I keep feeling as though I have insight and experience that could be helpful.

One thing is that the toe separation is very important because toes become atrophied by being in ordinary shoes. I used to have strong independent use of all my toes to grip boulders and such, but after a few years in shoes I discovered—to my horror—that my little toes could barely be moved independently anymore: they don't grab on the way they used to! They feel numb (compared to their earlier selves) as though they're just there, useless tabs that might get stubbed and broken off because they're not responsive enough anymore. For me I feel like the toe pockets on Vibram FiveFingers are a God-send, as a figure of speech, because they are helping my toes to spread out again like they should, and they do not have the strength anymore to do it on their own. It's almost like a corrective brace!

For people who've said their toes aren't strong enough to move independently or grip in the FiveFingers, I think the problem is that most people's toes are weak and uncoordinated from disuse and being in normal shoes, or when barefoot, just walking on even terrain all the time.

As far as stepping on sharp things, I've done plenty of that in my life, and sharp objects jabbing your feet will certainly sharpen your reflexes! Hehe! Whenever I hit something large, hard and sharp, especially on my arch with bare feet, I bent my knee and dropped to the ground in a flash—before I got injured. That's how the reflex developed, but you know how these fast-dropping reflexes have really saved me? With ankle injury prevention. I always drop so fast when my ankle rolls that I have never once had a sprain or twist that caused pain for more than a minute.

I am very quick and nimble on my feet due to all my barefoot wilderness experience, and I've always been a strong advocate of being barefoot. It is one of your primary senses, a way to be in constant physical contact with your environment, that goes right along with seeing, smelling, and hearing. To wear shoes is to cut off one of your senses. My only use for shoes is in towns and cities where I do not consider it clean enough to go barefoot. I am so happy to be able to have VFFs for that, and for long-distance running! I have Classics for everyday use, and the Sprints for running. Of course, nothing can beat going barefoot whenever possible!

I am so happy more people are catching on to how wonderful being barefoot is!

NYC Barefoot Run 2011

NYC Barefoot Run 2011

In less than two weeks the 2nd annual New York City Barefoot Run will be taking place. I'm happy and excited to be attending the event (Thanks Merrell!) and wanted to let you know that it's not too late to sign up and attend yourself!

Also, I should get a chance to bounce some questions off of a veritable "who's who" list of folks in the barefoot/minimalist running community, so if you have any questions you'd like to pose to folks like Christopher McDougall, Dan Lieberman, Barefoot Ted, Barefoot Ken Bob, Erwan Le Corre, Jason Robillard, Lee Saxby, Daniel Howell, Michael Sandler, Mark Cucuzella, Pete Larson, John Durant, etc., please let me know! Just leave a comment below!

And if you're going to be there, be sure to let me know.

Now if you're on the fence about attending, here's a bit of info straight from John Durant about what to expect at this year's weekend of barefoot mayhem in NYC!

What to expect, details for this year's NYC Barefoot Run

Straight from organizer John Durant:

The 2nd Annual New York City Barefoot Run is shaping up to be even better than last year: more clinics, more speakers, more sponsors, more excitement. Great for beginners and advanced runners alike. Pretty much everybody who's anybody in the barefoot or minimalist running world is going to be there. You can feel the momentum.

Both Chris McDougall and Dan Lieberman are giving talks they haven't given before. McDougall is talking about an old training technique, and Lieberman will be talking about sources of running injury. You're not going to want to miss either of those.

We have two Guinness World Record holders coming. Patrick Sweeney holds the record for the longest distance run on sand in 24 hours — 87.36 miles — all of which he did barefoot. And Anand Anatharaman organized the Mumbai Barefoot Half Marathon, setting the record for the largest barefoot half-marathon (306).

We're also going to have a lot of fun. Inspired by an old finding that rickshaw pullers had healthy feet, Barefoot Ted and the Luna Sandals space monkeys are working on some custom-built rickshaws. I have a suspicion that Barefoot Ted is going to get a lot of free rides around the island — kind of like Tom Sawyer getting his friends to paint the fence for him.

Barefoot Wine and Smuttynose are sponsoring wine and beer all weekend long, so spirits should be high.

Stats

  • Over 300 people signed up so far
  • 10 countries (USA, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Spain, Mexico, and India) and 28 U.S. states
  • Talks and clinics with Christopher McDougall, Dr. Dan Lieberman, Barefoot Ted, Barefoot Ken Bob, Erwan Le Corre, Jason Robillard, Lee Saxby, Esther Ghokale (posture), Dr. Daniel Howell, Michael Sandler, Mark Cucuzella, John Durant, and more...
  • Sponsored by Merrell, Vivobarefoot, Injinji, Luna Sandals, and Jackrabbit Sports
  • Wine provided by Barefoot Wine, beer provided by Smuttynose
  • Vivobarefoot running and injury clinics, Minimalist Expo, speakers at the Merrell Barefoot Party, and the Run on scenic Governors Island in New York harbor
  • Saturday and Sunday, September 24-25th
  • Cost: $75. Gets you a tech tee, entrance to all events, complimentary drinks all weekend, raffle giveaways, and lots of free stuff.
  • Register at NYCBarefootRun.com

Highlight Reel from the 1st Annual NYC Barefoot Run in 2010

Hope to see you there!

And leave those questions/comments!

New Balance NB Minimus Cross Review (MX20)

A few photos of the New Balance NB Minimus Cross (MX20).
A few photos of the New Balance NB Minimus Cross (MX20) in red and black.

For me the NB Minimus Cross (the "MX20") were "Like-At-First-Sight." When I first opened the box I grinned at the design. We've got simple, clean lines, no flashy distractions or garish colors, and a cool contrast from the upper to the sole. I actually said out loud “I dig it.” But would my initial impression of them stand up to further scrutiny? Find out after the jump!

Read the rest of this post »