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!

Newlyweds Run Marathon in Toe Shoes on Icelandic Honeymoon

Icelandic Honeymoon
Click to enlarge.

Patrick and Sarah recently honeymooned in Iceland. While there, they ran the Reykjavik Marathon in their Vibram Five Fingers. Here is what Patrick shared with us about their trip:

Thought I'd pass a note along to say how great the Five Fingers were on my honeymoon in Iceland last month. My wife and I each brought two pairs -- Bikilas and Trek Sports -- and we wore little else on our two week trip around the island. We wore them hiking, riding horses, bathing in thermal spas, and just touring the cities. Sarah, my wife, had to answer daily questions about her pink toe-shoes and even model for a picture from some fellow tourists.

I've been training in VFFs since January and anticipated running my first marathon in my Bikilas in Chicago this October. But after booking our honeymoon I discovered the Reykjavik marathon was on the second day of our trip! I couldn't pass up the opportunity -- and it proved a great way to see a city for the first time, even if I could hardly walk for three days after.

I encounter people who think it's not possible to run long distances in 'caveman' shoes, but we found them perfect for our races (Sarah ran the 10k), and they worked brilliantly for hiking up trails to see waterfalls too. I felt very in control over all sorts of territory (volcanic rock, trails, moss, snow). My wife owns two pairs but wasn't a total convert to the VFFs until we passed other hikers with their cumbersome and heavy hiking boots -- they were so unnecessarily big!

Now that's a memorable honeymoon. Thanks for sharing it with us!

Vibram Five Fingers Fare Well at the Fair

Minnesota State Fair
Click to enlarge.

Chad decided to put his Vibram Five Fingers KSOs to the test at the Minnesota State Fair. He gave them quite a workout as he describes below:

I have had my Vibram KSOs for about 3 months now. I have been using them for running, biking, working out in the gym and lately just as my everyday shoes. But I decided they needed to do something a little different.

Every year my wife and I go to the Minnesota State Fair. It has been a family tradition going back to my Wife's grandma, who at 75 still goes there to this day! If you have never been there, its very hard to describe the obsession that can form from the Minnesota State Fair. Over 1.6 million people attend during its 12 day run. Last year in 2 days my pedometer showed I covered 23 miles. Its a large place! So large, it has 2 sky rides to carry people across the grounds.

This year I decided the Vibrams had to take the Minnesota State Fair challenge. I put them on in our Hotel at 7:30AM and they did not come off my feet until we got home at 11:30PM. In one day I covered about 10 miles walking through cement, dirt, asphalt, carpet and gravel. All while dodging "horse apples", strollers and various spilled food.

The Vibrams performed perfectly! After it was all said and done, my feet were tired, but not sore. I was definitely walking slower by the end of the day. There was one spot on the ball of my foot that I though was going to form a blister, but one never formed. The response to the VFFs were overall positive. I got plenty of strange looks and was stopped countless times by people to ask what the heck they were. As previous people have said, I wish I had business cards I could just hand out when people asked about them. I ended up repeating myself a lot that day.

Vibram Five Fingers really can do anything!

Thanks, Chad! It is always amazing to hear how well our feet can hold up when they are left to do what they are designed to do.

Chad got some black/orange KSOs from his wife for his birthday and wore them back for a second day at the fair. Chad said, "So they really are my Birthday Shoes." See all of Chad's great MN State Fair pics at Chad's "onastick" flickr site.

Barefoot Running Shoes

Nike Zoom Streak XC 2 with Bare Foot Superimposed
Nike Zoom Streak XC 2 with Bare Foot Superimposed

Barefoot running shoes have become all the rage as the advantages of barefoot running have become widely known, but what the heck is a barefoot running shoe? While we might immediately think "barefoot" and "shoe" couldn't possibly coexist together, internet searches for this oxymoronic combination of words have taken off in the last year:

What are these "barefoot running shoes" that everyone is searching for? Sifting through the search results I see a lot of Vibram related links, but also links to Huaraches and Nike Frees. I thought it would be interesting to see where all of these different shoes fall on a "barefoot running shoe" continuum.

What continuum you ask? Read on!

Read the rest of this post »

Hiking the Garden of the Gods in Vibram Five Fingers

Andy and  Kaitlyn at the Garden of the Gods
Andy and Kaitlyn at the Garden of the Gods

Pictured above in their Bikilas and KSOs, Andy and Kaitlyn visited the The Garden of the Gods on their recent trip to Colorado. Andy gives us the details below:

Hey! My name is Andy and recently my girlfriend Kaitlyn and I went to Colorado to visit her parents. Coming from Texas, the cool temperatures were a nice change from the humid Texas heat. While we were there, we went to The Garden of the Gods near Manitou Springs. It was a great place to hike and there were many professional rock climbers there.

Last spring I took up running as a way to stay active and found out about Vibram Five Fingers through a friend. Wearing Five Fingers immediately made running much more enjoyable and I could feel my feet and calves getting stronger the more I ran. WOW! I definitely felt my calves in the beginning! I ran my first 5k in June with a 26 minute time. Since we were going to be in Colorado, I figured, why not sign up for a race while we were there? So I signed up for the Heart and Soul Half Marathon in Boulder Colorado. It was pretty rough for me since I was not adjusted to the high altitude. I chose to run in my Nike Frees since I was unsure how my ankles and feet would hold up in Vibrams for 13 miles.

Next year my plan is to run the same race in Vibrams!

Girlfriend, met the parents, going back next year...hmm...keep putting your best foot forward Andy! Thanks for the story and pics!

26 miles and 385 yards in Five Fingers Bikilas

Blair Crosses the Finish Line
Blair crosses the finish line with his kids at Marathon by the Sea as an onlooker checks out his Bikilas.

Blair has been logging serious miles in his KSOs and Bikilas while accumulating a nice collection of Vibram Five Fingers. Here is what he had to say:

Hi guys,

Just wanted to send along a pic of my second marathon is my Vibrams. First one was in my KSOs. This one was in my Bikilas, along with a pair of Injinji socks - ran a personal best. Tried the socks out one day cause it was pouring rain on a long run - really liked them. Still have yet to see another pair of Vibrams in a race here in Atlantic Canada. The Bikilas are much more suited for road racing - even though the KSOs feel like a much better fit for kicking around and breathe better as well. Slated for a trail half marathon in September then another marathon in October. Made sure I bought a pair of Treks for the trail - hard to believe how well that leather breathes. I can see how this can be addicting. I have my eye on both the new KSO Trek Sports for my October race and the Smartwool Classics to get me through the winter. Real excited about the new models you previewed for 2011. Maybe next year the kids will be wearing them across the finish line as well. :)

Cheers!

PS - looking forward to buying a bday shoes T-shirt - hopefully a tech T :) Great idea.

Blair, congratulations on your PR in the Marathon by the Sea and glad you like the t-shirt!

Five Fingers KSOs in the Klondike

Phillip on Chilkoot Trail
Phillip looks back into a valley and some rocky terrain on Chilkoot Trail.

Phillip, a Vibram Five Fingers fan, and his girlfriend recently hiked the Chilkoot Trail in Alaska and British Columbia. This trail was used by prospectors during the Klondike Gold Rush to reach the Yukon goldfields. It is a 33 mile trail that can takes 3 to 5 days to hike and Phillip did it all in his Vibram Five Fingers KSOs. After the jump, Phillip shares his experience and amazing photos from the hike:

Read the rest of this post »