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!

New Balance NB Minimus Life Give Away!

165 people entered the NB Minimus Life Giveaway!  Look at all those old shoes!
165 people entered the NB Minimus Life Giveaway! Look at all those old shoes!

The NB Minimus Life Winner is jracecar! (3/7/2011)

JRaceCar's caption - I admit that I was wrong about you, airshoes.
JRaceCar's caption - I admit that I was wrong about you, airshoes. [Editor's comment: note the razor blades and bubble wrap -- interesting photo and I think the NB Minimus Lifes are going to a deserving pair of feet!]

Jracecar or "Adam" had a bit more to say about his photo:

The photo came from me finding the worst example of a running shoe that I owned and attempting to indicate a break from that part of my life. I paint pictures on occasion, and when I do I often use razor blades to apply and remove paint. So that is oil paint on the blades I had leftover from a recent project. The bubble wrap is just something that was in the art space, and promised a much more relevant and interesting texture than the basement carpet that was the alternative.

Very cool, and congratulations Adam!

We received more than 165 submissions (though those received after the 165 came after the drawing cutoff time!). Each photo was submitted with a description or tag that describes the shoes being submitted. Some great, fascinating submissions below—which ones are your favorites? Vote by name in the comments and we'll elevate the best below. Here's one to kick it off:


Andrei

Lindsay
Todd

More Pics after the jump!

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New Balance NB Minimus Trail Photos and Video

The New Balance Minimus Trail in black (or very dark grey) and neon yellow.
The New Balance Minimus Trail in black (or very dark grey) and neon yellow.

We've reviewed the New Balance Minimus Trail already, but I got my feet into a pair of the dark grey (I might call them black) and neon yellow New Balance NB Minimus Trails recently and figured I'd do a little video overview and snap some photos to share with the site here for the benefit of those who don't have the ability to run over to a local store and check these puppies out.

So after the jump is a video and twenty-four photos of the New Balance NB Minimus Trail!

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Review Fila Skele-Toes - Four Toed Shoes

The Fila Skele-Toes - toe shoes with four toes!
The Fila Skele-Toes - toe shoes with four toes!

A few weeks back we took a sneak peak at a new brand of toe shoes—as in, not Vibram Five Fingersthey're the Fila "Skele-toes." Comet Shoes hooked me up with a pair to examine, review, and share with BirthdayShoes readers, and that's what I'll be doing today.

If you're new to the concept of "toe shoes", you might benefit from a brief history on their origins. Believe it or not, they got their start almost five years ago by an Italian company called Vibram — they produced the first five toe shoes called Vibram FiveFingers and have turned traditional footwear paradigms upside down — and it's not because shoes with toes are just eye-catchingly strange, either.

"What the heck are those?" may be a good question, but perhaps the better question is "Why toe shoes?" I've explained toe shoes here, but the Cliff's notes version is this: shoes that allow your feet to function naturally—as they would barefoot—when you do things like run, walk, work out, or play—are healthy.

The mainstream thick-heeled, heavily cushioned, arch-supporting sneakers we've come to accept as "normal" are more about marketing hype than actually supporting good foot health. You don't need them at all. Worse, it's possible they're hurting you more than helping by preventing your foot from moving naturally — and affecting your entire body's biomechanics in the process. If you don't believe me, BirthdayShoes.com has hundreds of user stories from people around the world doing everything from running marathons in toe shoes to hiking, traveling, skydiving, or powerlifting. Stick around because more than just a weird novelty in footwear, toe shoes are changing footwear.

The Fila Skele-toes are not actually five-toed shoes because the Skele-toes design gives the smallest two toes one pocket for ease of entry (the "EZ-Slide"). While the Skele-toes' "four" toe design is an obvious difference to Vibram Five Fingers, the Fila Skele-toes are also different than VFFs in other more subtle ways — all toe separation aside. Actually, Fila is marketing the Skele-toes more as a lifestyle shoe than a fitness shoe.

After the jump I'll talk more about the Skele-toes design, function, and differences to Vibrams (you can't help but compare) and wrap up with a little video review action.

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Review NB Minimus Life by New Balance

The New Balance NB Minimus Life (men's version)
Two shots of the New Balance NB Minimus Life barefoot shoes being released by New Balance for Spring 2011. These are meant for casual, everyday wear or light fitness (nearest I can tell).

For Spring 2011, in addition to the NB Minimus Road and the NB Minimus Trail, New Balance is releasing a third minimalist shoe geared towards casual, everyday use with perhaps a bit of fitness (e.g. weight lifting, perhaps) functionality to boot — this third offering in the New Balance's minimalist footwear line is called the New Balance NB Minimus Life (originally the "Wellness").

I've been wearing a pair of the NB Minimus Life shoes almost exclusively since I got them about a week ago.* I'd say this was for testing purposes only (Disclaimer: New Balance sent me these to test), but truth is, I just really like these shoes. They are super comfortable, extremely easy to put on (they lack true laces), have very little sole to speak of (though the sole they have is soft/cushy and there is a heel-to-toe drop of 4mm. More on this later.), no arch support, and they have a good-sized toe box. Plus, they just look really good to me. I've worn them with shorts, jeans, workout clothes, and even khakis. For a sneaker, they're plenty versatile, and though I've only "run" to the car or back and forth here and there in them, I'd imagine you could run in them if you were so inclined even as that's not what they're expressly designed for.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Allow me to dive into some details with photos, video, and more after the jump.

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Vibram Five Fingers Bikila LS - Review

Vibram Five Fingers Bikila LS - Review

A few days ago, I received a pair of the new Vibram Five Fingers Bikila LS toe shoes and want to share my first impressions. So far, I've only taken them out on one 2+ mile run, but can already tell they perform very much like my standard Bikilas and in some ways better. Rather than rehash all that has been said about the Bikila, which I think is the perfect hard surface barefoot running shoe (until now!), I will keep this concise by highlighting what is different about the Bikila LS.

The big differences are:

  • Speed lace system
  • Coconut active carbon upper
  • New dotted PU toe protection
  • Color choices

These changes represent improvements over the standard Bikila and I will cover each of them after the jump.

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