Vibram Five Fingers… Friend or Foe?
This year I have really embraced running. Not really sure why, running is something that I have always dreaded. This year though, it became part of my life. There is just something about taking off from your front porch, and going. Sure, while you are doing it, it normally is no fun, but after, the feeling that you have in your lungs is all worth the struggle of the trip. It is a great way to stay fit, and a great way to cross train and mix it up a bit from cycling.
This summer, after a buddy and I competed in theWarrior Dash, I started my search for new running shoes. I researched for quite some time before setting my sights on a pair of minimalist running shoes. If you are not familiar with the minimalist running movement, this is a good read on the subject. That article can sum it up better than I can. Basically, it is running in a more natural state, with less of a shoe. The more that I read about the subject, the more I became convinced that this was for me. So, after hours and hours of researching, I went to my local store to pick up a pair of Vibram Five Fingers.
I decided to go with the KSO model, which is one of the most popular models. I really wanted to get a feel for the shoes first and foremost before going with the running specific model, the Bikila. If you are thinking of buying a pair, I would recommend going to a running specific store. It is always a good idea to try them on in person and see if you even like them compared to buying online, plus, you can usually ask questions about the product. Luckily here in the Cincinnati metro area, we have such a store by the name of Bob Roncker’s Running Spot. At the running spot, I was cautioned on the ill effects of the VFFs if not worn correctly. I absorbed all of the information, had a nice chat with the knowledgeable staff member, and out the door I went in my new shoes.
At the advice of the Running Spot, I started slow. And by slow I mean walking. I wore these shoes for a solid month before even thinking of running. I wanted to be sure that I was doing everything correctly, and not rushing into it. The first month went by, and so it was time to start running. My first run was around a half mile. It was a weird sensation. Lots of muscles burning in my legs that I have not used in quite some time. It became addicting. So, slowly but surely I built up the miles over the next couple of months to where I was running anywhere from 3 to 8 miles at a time. At times there was some different types of pain. First came the calf pain. Second came the top of the foot pain. Both of which seemed “normal” from the research of different forums. Seriously, if its on the net it is true right?
So enter yesterday. I had signed up to run the Fox and the Hound 5k in downtown Cincinnati. Great course, nice and flat, and very scenic. Everything during the run was going along as planned, maybe a little faster pace than normal for myself, but everything felt good. Then at the half way point, my right foot started to hurt. Seemed like some “normal” top of the foot pain that I had experienced before. So I kept running, slowing my pace a bit. At mile 2.5 I had to drastically change my footing, so it looked as I was running with a cramp. This kept the pain down a little, but enough for me to keep going. After crossing the finish line, I could tell that this pain was not normal. Usually if there is any minor pain, it will start to feel better during stretching. Not the case with this pain. I tried a few different methods of stretching on my foot, then decided to limp my way back to my truck for my drive home. And a painful drive it was, just using my foot on the pedals hurt more than my foot has hurt before.
Once home, I iced my foot for a time, drank a beer to self medicate, and went to bed hoping that tomorrow would be a new day. Instead, I woke up to more intense pain in my right foot. Off to the doctor I went and they confirmed I had the “normal” injury of a stress fracture in my 2nd metatarsal. Great.
My reason for this post is to hopefully inform people of the real risk from wearing these shoes. I really enjoy them unfortunately, and I feel that I worked my way up slowly. I don’t understand how I could run longer distances, with no negative instances, then run a shorter 5k and have an injury like this. Granted, this is not a huge injury, I do not need surgery or anything major, but it is a huge inconvenience. It just does not seem to make sense to me. So now the process starts over, researching shoes once again. I do plan on keeping the VFFs, but I will not be running in them anymore. That was an expensive and painful experiment…
This entry was posted on August 26, 2011 by codsow. It was filed under running and was tagged with barefoot running, bob roncker's running spot, cincinnati, dropped metatarsal, fox and the hound 5k, injury, logan, loveland, minimilist running, ohio, running, stress fracture, trail running, vibram, vibram bikila, vibram five fingers, vibram KSO, warrior dash.