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!

NB Minimus Zero, first Zero-Drop Shoe from New Balance

2012 New Balance NB Minimus Zero Trail (my guess) teaser, close-up shots just leaked.  This is the first zero-dropped New Balance for their minimalist footwear/barefoot shoes line and a departure from their original 2010 installation, which featured a 4mm
2012 New Balance NB Minimus Zero Trail (my guess) teaser, close-up shots just leaked. This is the first zero-dropped New Balance for their minimalist footwear/barefoot shoes line and a departure from their original 2010 installation, which featured a 4mm heel-to-toe drop.

The folks over at New Balance have started leaking out information about their next entry into the minimalist footwear/barefoot shoes category — the New Balance NB Minimus Zero,or the NB Minimus Zero for short. The NB Minimus Zero line will, as the name suggests, bring a zero-drop heel to toe option to the NB Minimus line (We've previously reviewed the NB Minimus Road, NB Minimus Trail [more photos and video | user review], and NB Minimus Life). As you might recall, the previous installations in the NB Minimus line all featured a 4mm heel-to-toe drop, much to the chagrin of the minimalist footwear community. Sure, while 4mm is ... minimal, it was a cognitive disconnect from the characteristics "barefoot running shoes" should have.

Echoing New Balance's approach from 2010, they are only leaking out a tiny bit of information about the NB Minimus Zero, giving us only a glimpse of the product via some super close-up photos and some tantalizingly ambiguous commentary via the New Balance" SBU Manager for Performance Running and Outdoor," Katherine Petrecca. More specifically, New Balance will be releasing "9 Things You Should Know" about the NB Minimus Zero by Katherine Petrecca at 4pm Eastern.

New Balance gave me early access to the Petrecca piece so I could whet your appetite and fulfill my duty to bring the BirthdayShoes community all the barefoot shoes news fit to print.

So read on after the jump!

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2012 Vibram FiveFingers Spotted! New Toe Shoes for Casual Wear, Running, and Trails!

Photo of some of the 2012 Vibram FiveFingers new models.
Photo of some of the 2012 Vibram FiveFingers upcoming models. Names rumored to be from top to bottom the Sorrento, Rimini LR, and Grado FiveFingers. Taken from the 2011 Friedrichshafen Outdoor Trade show (July 14-17) in Friedrichshafen, Germany. Photo by Linda of nujo.lv. Used with permission.

Who wants more toe shoes? How about a sneak peak at some upcoming 2012 Vibram FiveFingers for casual wear, ultra-light running, running trails?

It's time to nerd out on some minimalist footwear that will be hitting the scene next year because as you can see from the teaser above, we've gotten our hands on some images of upcoming "barefoot shoes" from Vibram!

More photos and wild speculation after the jump!

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Women's KomodoSport LS FiveFingers Review

Leah Sakellarides holds up a pair of the Fall 2011 women's Vibram FiveFingers KomodoSport LS toe shoes.
Leah Sakellarides holds up a pair of the Fall 2011 women's Vibram FiveFingers KomodoSport LS toe shoes.

My experience with Vibram FiveFingers

It was about three years ago when I purchased my first pair of VFFs. It wasn’t love at first step (or sight) with my Sprints, but the more I wore them, the more I fell in love. After conditioning my legs and body to run in them, I found myself running faster and I felt more agile than I ever did in my old clunky running shoes. It was like removing the weights from my feet and I felt connected with the ground for the first time. On average, I usually run about 20 miles a week in my Sprints. I wore them trekking the Andes in Peru, do Crossfit in them, and even wear them in the water when I standup paddle surf. After all this time they are finally falling apart at the seams so I was so stoked to try out these new Vibram FiveFingers "KomodoSport LS" lace-ups!

What follows is my review of the KomodoSport LS, complete with thoughts on aeshetics, construction/materials, fit, and performance in a variety of activities.

Read my review of the women's KomodoSport LS after the jump!

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Trek LS Vibram FiveFingers Review

The Fall 2011 Vibram FiveFingers Trek LS, all-leather Vibram toe shoes for everyday wear (though you could certainly do an impromptu sprint, dead lift, or tree climb in them if need presents itself!).
The Fall 2011 Vibram FiveFingers Trek LS, all-leather Vibram toe shoes for everyday wear (though you could certainly do an impromptu sprint, dead lift, or tree climb in them if need presents itself!).

For Fall 2011 comes the all leather Vibram FiveFingers Trek LS, a five toed shoe for men that pushes footwear trends to new levels of insanity: toe shoes for everyday wear? Wearing FiveFingers in a business casual setting? Five toed shoes as fashion-forward footwear? Toe shoes for the modern man?

What is the world coming to? Has Vibram gone mad?

**ALERT August 18, 2011** The Fivefingers Trek LS is now Available for Purchase!

Before I dive in, here is the typically perfunctory, official word on the Trek LS from Vibram's Fall 2011 catalog:

By popular demand, Vibram introduces it's first casual/comfort shoe for men with a distressed kangaroo leather upper and a casual tie lacing system. The Trek LS features the popular 4mm, lightly cleated, Trek outsole and a 4mm EVA midsole for additional comfort.

Illuminating, no? Allow me to elaborate on this description. I've been testing the Trek LS FiveFingers now for a few months and what follows are my thoughts — as well as a slew of photos — all after the jump!

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Vibram (FiveFingers) Sues Fila (Skele-Toes) for Patent Infringement

Vibram (left), the originator of the FiveFingers toe shoes, has filed suit against Fila Skele-toes (right), a maker of a four-toed varietal of toe shoes that hit the market in Spring 2011.
Vibram (left), the originator of the FiveFingers toe shoes, filed suit against Fila Skele-toes (right), a maker of a four-toed varietal of toe shoes that hit the market in Spring 2011.

BREAKING NEWS! I've just gotten wind of a press release that is going out today from Vibram — Vibram has filed suit against Fila for patent infringement. In a nutshell, it seems Vibram, the originator of toe shoes with the FiveFingers brand, believes Fila has infringed on it's intellectual property rights by creating the "Skele-toes" shoes, which have been prevalently marketed in the United States over the past few months. Here's the press release, emphasis mine:

VIBRAM SUES FILA USA FOR PATENT INFRINGEMENT

CONCORD, MA, JULY 18, 2011 - Vibram S.p.A., of Italy, today announced that it and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Vibram USA Inc. have commenced legal action in the United States District Court, District of Massachusetts against Fila USA, Inc. for patent infringement. The patents involved cover footwear having individually articuable toe portions, as embodied in Vibram's enormously successful FiveFingers® branded footwear that has helped to pioneer minimalist footwear, the barefoot running trend, and its inherent benefits.

The complaint alleges Fila USA, Inc.'s (“Fila”) "Skeletoes" footwear is infringing several U.S. Patents held by Vibram. The FiveFingers Patents cover a variety of footwear designs comprising individual toe pockets.

“Before Vibram FiveFingers were introduced, there was no minimalist footwear constructed with individual toe pockets that encouraged natural, barefoot movement, while at the same time providing enhanced grip and protection. Vibram pioneered the minimalist footwear category,” said Tony Post, Vibram USA's President. "Vibram launched the concept in 2005, and public reception has grown tremendously since, now the entire footwear industry has responded by entering the minimalist category. In fact, Vibram has even partnered with Merrell and New Balance to create minimal/barefoot like sole platforms that are complementary to our Vibram FiveFingers."

Post added, “Vibram innovated the technology and earned the patents. With our success, copyists and counterfeiters have come out of the woodwork. We will continue to take aggressive action against all who infringe our intellectual property. These infringements are not only damaging to Vibram, they also hurt our retail partners and the public trust. Vibram will work diligently to bring such action to a stop.”

Vibram® is recognized worldwide as the leader in high performance soles for outdoor, recreational, work and fashion footwear and is relied on by the world’ s greatest climbers and athletes. Time magazine named Vibram FiveFingers one of the best inventions of 2007 in the category of health. Vibram® soles have set the standard since Vitale Bramani created mountaineering’s first rubber lugged sole in the late 1930’s. Vibram® soles have gone on to conquer Mt. Everest, K2 and a host of the world’s tallest peaks. Today, the company works with premium brands including Danner, La Sportiva, Lowa, Merrell, Red Wing, Scarpa, The North Face, Timberland, Vasque, Wolverine and many more. For further information please visit www.vibram.com or www.vibramfivefingers.com.
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Justin here: Yowza! I'm not sure what to make of this and no, I don't have any of the details surrounding which patents in particular Vibram has that Fila has allegedly infringed. What we have here is a clash of the "toetans" — couldn't help myself. In all seriousness, Vibram has had an insane problem with counterfeit FiveFingers coming out of China (my list of fake FiveFingers retailers is something like 500 websites long!). That said, are the Fila Skele-Toes violating Vibram's intellectual property rights?

@bdayshoes And so, it begins. My boys and I noticed this on t... on TwitpicWe've reviewed the original Fila Skele-Toes here and the Skele-toes 2.0 here. Anecdotally speaking, I can recant countless friends and family members telling me, "Oh I saw your shoes on a billboard on the highway [here in Atlanta]," leaving me correcting them that, "No those are the Fila Skele-toes — they're a good bit different than FiveFingers." That said, confusion over toe shoes probably isn't grounds for lawsuit (Legal Disclaimer: I'm no lawyer!).

I believe Skele-toes are pretty markedly different than FiveFingers — they are stiffer soled, have four toe pockets instead of five, and have an overall feel that isn't very comfortable to me — relative to the comfort of any pair of Vibram FiveFingers. Of course, I chalked the problems with Fila's introductory toe shoes product up to lack of experience and refinement.

All of that is moot, of course, when it comes to how a court will rule on intellectual property rights.

And what say you? Since we can all play armchair lawyer here, do you think Fila has infringed on Vibram's rights? One thing is for sure, Vibram was not kidding when they published this ad back in 2010 in Footwear Plus magazine:

The back of Footwear Plus magazine, Vibram has a special message "to anyone thinking about infringing on any of our 200+ patents and trademarks."
The back of Footwear Plus magazine, Vibram has a special message "to anyone thinking about infringing on any of our 200+ patents and trademarks."

What say you? Let's hear it!