Saturday, January 21, 2012

Vibrams: To wear or not to wear?

I hadn't realized that I haven't written a fitness-related post in a really long time, until it was suggested to me to write one today.

A few months ago, I purchased these:

It was one of the 100 things I've done to try and alleviate my knee problem. If you've been reading for awhile,  you've heard me discuss several times that I have a knee pain that occurs when I run even one mile, or do any type of high impact workout. Usually I can get away with doing the high impact workouts by dedicating days for yoga or weights to give my knees a break. But I want to be able to run so badly! So I figured trying the Vibrams couldn't hurt. 

I'd heard a lot of theories behind "barefoot" running. There are all kinds articles out there about "barefoot" running versus running with regular, full-support shoes. The main difference is that with regular running shoes, the foot lands heel first, whereas with shoes such as Vibrams, the foot lands on the ball, or middle of the foot. With a mid-foot land, the arch of the foot is able to absorb the shock. All sorts of issues can arise with the heel taking the impact, such as back pain, knee pain, heel pain, tendonitis, and the list goes on. There are also lots of articles that discuss the biomechanics between full support shoes versus barefoot shoes, but for now, we'll keep it simple!

When I first got my Vibrams, I made the transition from my regular running shoes by walking around in the Vibrams. After getting used to the way my feet felt in them (especially the part about having toes in different compartments!), I started incorporating them into my workouts. I used them for cardio such as kickboxing/Zumba at first, and my first run with them wasn't about 2 or 3 weeks later. I ran 2 miles, and had no knee pain whatsoever! My first observation was that I was able to feel every single rock on the road, which took some getting used to. I also had a lovely blister on each foot that developed, but I figured that was a result of the shoes still needing to be broken in.

Since then, I've run a few times, and I still haven't experienced any knee pain, which is quite a feat! The only issues I've had are the blisters, which still show up every time, and some slight discomfort at the bottom of my toes, just from the lack of cushioning in the shoes. But I think these are both minor details in comparison to the fact that I can now run pain-free. 

During the next few months, I'm going to be running quite a bit, and increasing my mileage as well. I have never run more than 4 miles, so it should be very interesting to see where the Vibrams take me! I think that anyone who experiences any sort of pain from running should invest in these shoes, because it's worth it, as long as you can handle the "different" feel of the shoes. 

Has anyone tried Vibrams or any other type of "barefoot" shoe? What are your opinions? I'd like to hear them!

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