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!

The Vibram Five Fingers Bikila is Out!

The Vibram Five Fingers Bikila in Blue and Yellow
The Vibram Five Fingers Bikila in Blue and Yellow

I'm happy to announce that we have a winner to the Vibram Five Fingers Bikila giveaway contest. There were almost 3,000 entries in the contest, and I will be emailing the winner here shortly!

Of course, having a winner means just one thing: it seems the long wait has finally come to an end -- the Vibram Five Fingers Bikila is out, which is to say it is making its way out, albeit slowly and piecemeal, to retailers both online and offline alike. Specifically, CitySports will have for sale about 180 pairs available online this afternoon for purchase in the blue and yellow mens version (photoed above) at this link (inventory will go live at approximately 3pm!). As I alluded to above, the Bikila's distribution is happening a bit piecemeal, which is why I'm sad to say that the women's version isn't yet available for online purchase! When this changes, I will send out another email about it.

I've no idea how long this short batch of Bikilas will last, but if I had to guess, I think they will go quickly, so if you're looking to buy the Vibram Five Fingers Bikila, I'd not delay! As far as other details are concerned, the Five Fingers Bikila sizes (in theory) the same as the Vibram Five Fingers KSO (though the fit feels a bit different due to different strap technology: the Bikila has a wider top opening, a more forward top strap, and no heel strap) and is priced at $99.95. Note that the BIRTHDAY coupon code should get you free shipping at CitySports (let me know if it doesn't!).

Again, here's a link to buy the blue/yellow Vibram Bikila — note that this page will update to have inventory for purchase just as soon as CitySports flips the switch this afternoon!

And if you hadn't already seen it, I posted a ton of pictures (and detailed description) of the Vibram Five Fingers Bikila in the silver/grey/red over at BirthdayShoes the other week. In short, I think the Bikila is an awesome product and I both look forward to putting it through the ropes and hearing how VFF fans at large like these new "barefoot running shoes."

Justin / Chief Editor, BirthdayShoes.com

An interview with TJ, President of The Barefoot Runners Society

Check out the bling!
Taken after the 2009 Omaha Marathon, from left to right are Benny, TJ, Barefoot Rick, and Aaron. Omaha was the first event in the US to have a Barefoot Runners Division.

We recently interviewed Tamara a.k.a. TJ, the President of The Barefoot Runners Society and the force behind the foundation of the RunnersWorld barefoot running forum. We asked TJ to talk about her switch to barefoot running as well as the Barefoot Runners Society. BirthdayShoes' own Justin recently participated in a trail run organized by The Barefoot Runners Society in BDS (and BRS!) headquarters here in Atlanta, Georgia.

When did you first get into barefoot running?

I’ve been running barefoot for 19 months now.

How did you find out about it?

I was out on a longer than usual run with my hubby who was pushing our two boys in the double jogger when I started having horrible pain in the toes on my left foot. The pain was so intense; I thought I had fractured them. I sat down, took my shoes off, started rubbing my toes, and the pain went away. I decided to leave my shoes off and finish my run without them. I thought how incredibly simple and comfortable it was to run barefoot. I felt I had truly hit upon something, something that would change how I felt about running forever.

Turns out I have Morton’s Neuroma, a condition where the metatarsal bones of the feet compress the nerves causing them to grow. I cannot wear most types of shoes, and I cannot wear shoes when I run. I’ve known that I had a problem for years, even predating my running life; I just didn’t know what the problem was.

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Tyre changing in Vibram Five Finger Blue Camo Sprints

Lionel gettin' it done!
Lionel changes a friend's flat tire with amazing enthusiasm.

Wikipedia - Tyre (wheel), the outer part of a wheel in British English (equivalent to tire in American English).

Ever have a flat tire and just can't get those tightened lug nuts to budge? Well, Australian Vibram Five Fingers fan, Lionel, knows how to use just the right amount of leverage, strength and Five Fingers awesomeness to get them loose. Here's what Lionel had to say about his chivalrous pursuits:

I recently got my first pair of VFFs and I got the blue camo sprints, after I was introduced to them by a friend of mine. Both of us went in search of VFFs here in Melbourne, but they are so expensive here. We actually almost bought a pair of ebay, but after stumbling upon your amazing site I found out that the ones me and my mate were going to get were knock offs!!! Thank god for Birthdayshoes.com!!!

I've been wearing my VFFs over the weekend walking around Melbourne CBD, so that I can get used to 'em and they feel great.

My story today, is that I've used the VFFs, in I reckon the most unique way anyone has used them before...


My girlfriend's housemate's car had a flat tyre, and I was up to the task of changing the tyre in my VFFs. Both my girlfriend and her housemate said that I should be really careful in my VFFs, because they think it is too thin.


TADA!!! I changed the tyre without even breaking a sweat, in a multi storey carpark in Melbourne's CBD. I did it without any problems and it was easy as 1,2,3!

Hooray for Vibram Five Fingers!

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Veteran Runner Makes the Switch to Vibram Five Fingers KSOs

Steve at Big Sur
Steve runs comfortably in his Vibram Five Fingers KSOs at the Big Sur Marathon.

Vibram Fiver Fingers fan, Steve, recently ran in his 15th Big Sur Marathon, and his first in VFF KSOs. Steve comments on the switch:

I saw at least 3 other runners with VFFs, including a woman in purple ones, and one barefoot runner. I got quite a few positive comments on mine and I was surprised how many had heard of VFFs and were interested in my experience with them. I was happy to oblige and emphasized the fact that they are very comfortable to run and walk in, far more so than regular running shoes with all their padding - after running in these for 6 months regular shoes seem squishy and unstable. There was a Vibram booth at the expo and I got to see the new Bikila - I can't wait to buy a pair! I've been running for over 50 years, and had no trouble transitioning to KSOs, though instead of my normal 4 month marathon training cycle I started a couple months early to ease into using them just in case I had any problems. I have no regrets about switching over, in fact I look forward to my runs more than I have in years, and as a side benefit, despite doing most of my training in the hills, for the first time in forever I have no black toenails! VFFs Rock!

Thanks Steve! Please send us some photos when you get your Bikilas.

Vibram Five Finger KSO Treks Perfom Well in an Extreme Trail Race (Fell Race)

Dig the shades!
Steve descending from the final summit in his Black Vibram Five Fingers KSOs.
(Photo courtesy of Alastair Tye)

Vibram Five Fingers fan, Steve, recently put his black KSO Treks through their paces, running the Llantysilio Fell Race in Wales. Wikipedia says that fell running dates back to 1040 in Scotland. A bit from Steve on fell racing and the Llantysilio course:

A fell race is an extreme trail race, usually taking competitors from a valley up to one or more high peaks via un-runnably steep tracks, and then returning to the valley with an almost suicidal descent. Routes are typically rocky, muddy or both, there's some limited freedom to choose one's own path, and the emphasis is on vertical gain. This video gives the general idea.

In this particular case, the short 6.2 mile (approx 10km) course featured a whopping 2100ft (approx 650m) of climbing, and an equal descent back to the start.

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