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!

Weekend Link Love 5/1/10

BirthdayShoes News!

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Finally, got word that site sponsor Travel Country recently got a load of new stock in case you're hunting for a hard to find color or size. Not Bikilas though.

Speaking of barefoot running shoes, did you know that Soft Star Shoes just released their new barefoot running shoe/moccasin called the RunAmoc? The RunAmoc can be ordered with either a 2mm or 5mm Vibram sole in a couple different upper configurations — some of the leathers can even be mixed and matched for your own custom-made running shoes! If you're new to the Soft Star seen, I've previously reviewed (and continue to enjoy) the Soft Star Grippy Roos / Moccasins. I've got Soft Star sending me a pair of red and black RunAmocs and will report more on them soon!

After the jump, an official Vibram video from the All-Star clinic, links to barefoot running research and how-to, and a few new reviews!

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Making the Transition to Minimalist Marathon Running in Vibram Five Fingers

Sam running in the Rotterdam Marathon
Sam running relaxed and on his forefoot in his VFFs, while others trudge along on their heels.

Sam, a marathon runner living in London, has made the transition to minimalist running over the last 8 months. After trying to transition too quickly, he stepped back and made a more gradual transition and recently completed the Rotterdam Marathon wearing his Vibram Five Fingers KSOs. His story is compelling and there is much to be learned from his experiences. This is a must read for serious runners transitioning to VFFs.

Sam's Story

Finding Five Fingers

I got on to Five Fingers around mid 2009 after a pretty bad knee injury I could not shake. I was able to finish my third marathon in a PB of 3h04m46s, but I fell over the line and I could hardly walk for a week. My left knee was shot. After weeks and months of searching on why, I came across the Five Fingers and minimalist running. Something about them just made sense... I get the feeling many others who wear them felt the same when they first laid eyes on them.

Transitioning Too Quickly

Well, I started out with a few small runs after my knee was feeling better, a few km's at a time and they felt GREAT! I could instantly feel the change it had made to my gait. I was running far more upright, with shorter steps and of course I was landing on my forefoot first. I had the obligatory calf pain, but as I had read this was "something we all had to go through!" As I had just finished my marathon and was planning the next, all I wanted to do was hit the trails on the weekends for my long run in my Five Fingers. I had the fitness, I was strong, so why couldn't I handle a 25km in the five fingers after only a few weeks running in them?

Well, that was a big mistake! A few days later, my left foot ceased up (I later found out related to an extremely stiff calf!) and I was back to square one. Or was I? Was it due to the FF's? Was it my poor form? I was at a loss.

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Vibram Five Fingers KSOs Give Grand Canyon Hiker a Foot Massage and Impress Park Rangers

Nick at the Grand Canyon
Nick sits precariously close to the edge of the Grand Canyon. Hold on tightly Nick! It is over a mile to the bottom.

Vibram Five Fingers fan, Nick, comments on hiking the Grand Canyon in his KSOs:

I've been running in my KSOs for a few months now, but haven't had much opportunity to take them out into nature and get them dusty. I recently went to the Grand Canyon and figured this was a great opportunity to introduce them to the outside.

My buddy and I hiked the South Kaibab trail down to Bright Angel Creek and back - over seven miles each way, and about 4000 feet elevation change. Even with a ten pound pack on my back, the KSOs held up. They gave me enough traction on the dusty trails, and my feet were comfortable the whole way. Walking over the small pebbles on the trail felt like I was getting a constant foot rub. And nearly everyone on the trail stopped me to ask what those "funny-looking shoes" were!

The best part? We were staying down in Bright Angel with some friends who work in the park as rangers and EMTs, and even they were impressed and curious about my KSOs. The first question was usually how my feet felt (great!), and the second question was "You hiked all the way down here in those?!?" After confirming that, yes, I did hike all the way down in them, they all said that they were definitely going to look into getting a pair. I ended up impressing some park rangers - who are all professional gear-heads - and had an amazing hike. I can't wait to continue my KSO National Park tour.

Thanks for telling us about your adventure Nick!

Denim Classics in the Vibram Five Fingers 2010 European Line-up

Denim Classics
Dirk's Vibram Five Fingers Denim Classics

The denim Classics, released only in Europe, are a stylish alternative for Vibram Five Fingers wearers. European Five Fingers fan, Dirk, gives his take on this new model:

It might be considered the Rolls Royce of the Classic family, at least price-wise, but perhaps also because of the very nice look. I've only recently started wearing it, somehow it did not feel right for me to wear this color in the winter. I'm noticing people generally are impressed by the look of this shoe, more so than when I'm wearing 'regular' colors. Somehow, the jeans look adds to the exclusiveness, and they're more open to the concept of VFF's.

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An Interview with Barefoot Michael, Founder of the Primalfoot Alliance

Barefoot Michael
Barefoot Michael, Founder of the Primalfoot Alliance

BirthdayShoes recently interviewed the Founder of the Primalfoot Alliance, Barefoot Michael (We've previously seen Michael on BirthdayShoes in his Sprint Vibram Five Fingers here, Michael blogs at Barefoot and Grounded). The Primalfoot Alliance was founded to advocate on behalf of feet — and for those who would prefer to engage the world "primalfoot." Without further ado, here's our interview with Barefoot Michael on the Primalfoot Alliance:

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Vibram Five Fingers provide sure footing in the jungles of Belize and Guatemala

Vibram Five Fingers provide sure footing in the jungles of Belize and Guatemala

Travelers, Jeff and his wife, found that their Vibram Five Fingers classics and KSOs were perfect for scaling ruins and exploring caves in the jungles of Belize and Guatemala.

Jeff commented on their trip:

My wife and I each have the VFF Classics and KSOs, which worked perfectly for our recent trip to the jungles of Belize and Guatemala. At the Mayan ruins at Tikal in Guatemala, the Vibrams were perfect for gripping ruins that often had difficult surfaces. After visiting the ruins, they proved equally helpful on a zipline tour. The water picture shows us cave tubing on a river in Belize, with me in the KSOs and my wife in the Classics. Unfortunately, we have no pictures in our KSOs on the day spelunking at Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) where the shoes were indispensable. We were often up to our chests in water where secure footing was often difficult to come by. Our fellow cavers in traditional shoes (and even those in Chaco-type sandals) were slipping and sliding, The "toe-by-toe" feedback of the KSOs let us know just how much stability we could expect, and their grip on the wet limestone never failed us. Now if only they'd artificially light the cave so that we could have taken some pictures of us in there...

Thanks Jeff!