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!

Huaraches - Review of the Original Minimalist/Barefoot Sandals

This photo was taken after my first run in my first pair of huaraches made from an Xero Shoes kit.
This photo was taken after my first run in my first pair of huaraches made from an Xero Shoes kit.

Vibram FiveFingers opened my eyes to minimalist shoe running and ever since, I've been on a quest to find the best balance of lightweight protection and comfort without sacrificing flexibility and ground feel. After VFFs, my next stop was at Xero Shoes where I purchased a kit to make my first pair of huaraches, running sandals worn by Tarahumara and featured in Born to Run. From there I began to experiment with different lacing materials, soles, and tying methods. Now, I maintain a huarache kit with all of the essentials needed to whip up a pair in a moment's notice.

This article will provide an introduction to huaraches to help get you started along with some tips I've picked up after making a few dozen for myself, family, and friends.

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KomodoSport LS Vibram FiveFingers Review

The Vibram FiveFingers KomodoSport LS (laces!) - new toe shoes from Vibram for Fall 2011
The Vibram FiveFingers KomodoSport LS (laces!) - new toe shoes from Vibram for Fall 2011

Note: Available now! Also, see the women's KomodoSport LS FiveFingers Review!

I've been testing out a sneak-peak, pre-mass-production version of the upcoming, yet-to-be released KomodoSport LS Vibram FiveFingers. In a nutshell, the KomodoSport takes the speed-lacing system of the Vibram FiveFingers Bikila LS, which was released earlier this year, and the sole structure and design of the KomodoSport Vibram FiveFingers, which were also released earlier this year. I know at least a few Vibram fans prefer their KomodoSports to their KSOs.

How does this feature mash-up function? Well, if you like a laced upper and the KomodoSport-style sole, it almost goes without saying that these puppies are for you. I have been finding them exceedingly comfortable (particularly in the "forget you're wearing them"/"forget to take them off around the house" departments). What follows is my run-down and review of the Vibram FiveFingers KomodoSport LS. Though they aren't out yet, they'll be out soon enough (looking like August 2011).

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KSO Kids FiveFingers for Running a Kids Marathon

Skye, a 7-year-old girl in Germany, running her first Kids Marathon in her KSO Kids FiveFingers.  Looks like she's having a great time!
Skye, a 7-year-old girl in Germany, running her first Kids Marathon in her KSO Kids FiveFingers. Looks like she's having a great time!

How cool is this girl? She recently ran a race in Germany sporting KSO Kids Vibram Five Fingers! Check it out:

This is Skye she is 7 years old. She recently got her first pair of kid KSO vibrams. The picture of her is running her very first America Kids Run marathon in Ramstein, Germany. She enjoys hiking, running, and playing hard in her vibrams. In fact she even tried to wear them to ballet class :)

Apparently, prior to picking up her Kids KSOs, Skye was running in New Balances. In her mom Toni's words, Skye "really loves the vibrams." And just in case you're wondering, the "Kids Run marathon" isn't 26.2 miles. These races start at a half mile and go up to a 5K. Skye ran the mile this year and will get to run two miles next year.

I asked Toni to share a bit more about how Skye and the family got into toe shoes and what she's been doing in them since the race. Here's what she had to say:

My husband is stationed in Germany he bought a pair of 5 finger speeds about a year ago, he swore that these were the best shoes he had ever owned. He put them to the test by running a relay marathon in Bahrain. When he saw that they were going to make them in kids sizes he jumped on the opportunity to get our daughter a pair. When we heard that they were hosting America Kids Run which is a tribute to children of military families Skye decided that she wanted to run in it and run with her Vibrams. She began training by running with our small dog Paris which is perfect size for her. She ran the America Kids Run Run on May 21st in Ramstein Germany and join with military bases all around the world who were running. She is planning on running in American Kids Run again next year and will run for breast cancer awareness in October.

After running the in the American Kids Run she has become addicted to her Vibrams. She wears them everywhere! She even tried to wear them to ballet. She loves that they can be thrown in the washing machine. Skye loves to hike in her vibrams. She says that she climbs better and run faster in them. As a parent I was impressed that after a couple hours of wearing them they had molded to her feet and she was able to get them on by herself with ease. These shoes are great because they are so durable. So glad that vibrams could make her first run a success.

THIS FAMILY LOVES VIBRAMS!!!!!!!!

This kinda thing gets me really excited about VFFs — it's awesome that kids have a choice in footwear that is not only fun to wear, but incredibly functional.

Now if only they were cheaper!

Thanks for sharing Toni and good luck on your future running, dancing, and play, Skye!

Teva Nilch Review (Barefoot/Minimalist Shoes)

The Teva Nilch is a recently released thin-soled (6mm) "water booty" from Teva.  Will it work as a barefoot/minimalist shoe?
The Teva Nilch is a recently released thin-soled (6mm) "water booty" from Teva. Will it work as a barefoot/minimalist shoe?

When I first saw the Teva Nilch on the Teva website I immediately thought of Terra Plana’s VivoBarefoot line and Justin's review of the NB MINIMUS Life. Though the Nilch are sold as "water booties" these looked simple and nice enough to pass as a nice casual shoe with a pair of jeans. They jumped right to the top of on my To-Buy list. Fortunately, thanks to a little help from KayakShed, I was able to try a pair (as well as a pair of the Teva Zilch which James reviewed recently).

Does the Teva Nilch stack up to those other guys in terms of quality and comfort? Would it be fair to call the Nilch a "barefoot" shoe? Follow me after the jump to find out.

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Unshoes Wokova Minimalist Sandals Initial Review

Presenting Unshoes Minimal Footwear - the Wokova Minimalist Sandal
Presenting Unshoes Minimal Footwear - the Wokova Minimalist Sandal

Minimalist Sandals Like Huaraches, But Simpler to Put On (That Remind Me of Minimalist Chacos)

I recently learned of (another) new minimalist footwear company that is making a splash on the "barefoot shoes" (or sandals in this case!) scene: Unshoes Minimal Footwear. Founded by Terral Fox about a year ago, "Unshoes" take Vibram soles, climbing spec webbing (the nylon/spectra straps) and a huaraches-inspired strapping mechanism to make a sandal that is at once reminiscent of Chacos but incredibly lighter, less rigid, and more comfortable. Oh and you can run in them if you like. Just in time for the summer heat, I'm happy to strap into a new pair of custom-cut-soled Unshoes Wokova minimalist sandals thanks to Unshoes USA.

Photos, thoughts on design, and review after the jump.

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Army Says No to Toe Shoes

Army Says No to Toe Shoes

The U.S. Army has officially, unequivocally banned the use of toe shoes. Read the relevant part of the ALARACT and weep: "Only those shoes that accomodate all five toes in one compartment are authorized for wear. Those shoes that feature five separate, individual compartments for the toes, detract from a professional military image and are prohibited for wear with the IPFU [Improved Physical Fitness Uniform] or when conducting physical training in military formation."

We had posted before about the Army banning Vibram FiveFingers but there was some debate (nearly 100 comments on that post) about the veracity of our report. Hard to argue with this release as it makes the Army's thoughts on minimalist running shoes pretty clear — there can be only one compartment to rule them all*.

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