I’ve long been an Asics girl when it came to running shoes. I appreciate shoes that are lightweight and breathable. That being said, I wanted to keep an open mind and see what I could find to help my foot pain issues.
What I found surprised me. After significant research and despite not having a local store to go to and try on a pair, I took the plunge and ordered my next pair of running shoes online.
Vibram Five Fingers Bikila. Hobbit Feet.
A big selling point was getting back to a natural running strike pattern, which changes the way your feet land when you run. Why is this a big deal? If you have plantar fasciitis like I have (in both feet, although one is worse than the other) and get tired of literally crawling on your hands and knees at times, getting relief is A Very Big Deal.
Another big selling point is that unlike traditional shoes, you don’t need to replace them after 300 miles. These you can literally wear out. And, you can throw them in the washing machine (air dry), which is another huge perk.
Not running has not been an acceptable solution, nor does it actually do anything for the problem. I’ve taken extended breaks from running; I’ve had RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) up to my ears with no relief. In fact, when the symptoms first appeared, I wasn’t doing any running (this was the onset debilitating illness symptoms) and assumed it was all disease related. And it still may be.
I have moved on to treating symptoms, so finding a good running shoe for heel and foot pain was part of that natural progression. Throwing caution to the wind (it can’t get worse!), and discovering I don’t actually have a ruler in my house to measure my feet (using other methods to determine length), I ordered online, hoping that my feet and toes wouldn’t be too swollen to actually get into the shoes.
One of the things I noticed while researching was a lack of good (detailed) chronicling the transition to these shoes. I wanted to know what to expect, given the disclaimers that calf muscles would need time to adjust, and to take the transition slow. Everyone said so, but there was scant information as to what someone could expect- really expect- when starting. If you’re still reading, feel free to check out here unless you want details. I’m going to periodically post updates on progress.
Distance Summary: 10 days wearing shoes; 50 total miles. Total daily distance (changing shoes) : 5 miles
VFF miles: 19.25
Heel pain level: low- HUGE improvement
Other pain: might have some extensor tendonitis; likely caused by pressure from the top of the shoe- read log to see when/how this cropped up. If this is extensor tendonitis, it’s not in the traditional place, but this is more likely something caused by where the shoe rests, even though I have not had a tight velcro strap.
Pain Summary: Shoe blister (ball of one foot) has resolved; heel pain minimal (best it’s been in years); watching top of foot pain which is relieved when foot cracks; stretching before, after, and throughout the day is hugely helpful; is marginally tender when pressing on that spot. Still need to do a lot of stretching before supta virasana is not painful; really have to ease into it with the one foot.
Conclusion: Go slow. Really. Slower speeds are better when getting used to these. Pay attention to the recommendations. I did significantly more than the recommeded 10%. I also run more than one day in a row, but feel that compensating with slower speeds and shorter distances are adequate, given my propensity for being barefoot much of the time anyhow long in advance of getting these shoes. Honor the way you feel.
Tuesday; Day 1- total 1.5 miles; walked ¼ to warm-up- felt good overall; could feel the pull in R calf around 1.25; although I’ve had knots in that calf off and on for thelast two weeks. Felt strange changing back to shoes mid-stream. (Tuesday after Memorial Day; hoping for 4 days this week depending on how I feel after using these shoes. Sensation getting on the treadmill was pretty bizarre, but then the weirdest was going back into the other shoes and finishing the workout.
Wednesday; Day 2- total 2 miles; walked ¼ and slower on additional ½ mile; R calf a bit sore as usual; L calf had the relatively normal shooting pain a little bit towards the end of the run; not prohibitive; both heels were pretty sore last night, but not as bad as they have been in the past; took Tylenol (for headache) but nothing else for pain.
Blister on bottom of right foot after run- think I may have had a sock wedged in there. Legs are getting sore when not moving around. Will probably take something at bedtime just to be safe.
Some archish/top foot pain while doing supta virasana.
Thursday; Day 3- total 3 miles; walked ¼; speed better today. Could feel blister on the bottom of foot, but not too bad; was MUCH worse in the regular shoe. Dreaded putting regular shoes back on, and the R heel pain was noticeably worse in Asics. REALLY looking forward to not having to change shoe.
When putting VFFs on this morning, outer toes were feeling a bit numb, particular toes 4 and 5 each foot- feet are a bit more swollen today, so that might be partly why.
Monday; Day 4- total 5 miles; walked 1; slower times. Determined blister on ball of R foot was from the shoes; no issue with it today during run. Top of L foot; however, is pretty sore; somewhere after mile 3. Too much too soon? Will have to wait and see how it feels as the day progresses, and tomorrow. Plan for tomorrow is to change shoes during if there is discomfort.
From what I have read, the TOFP is a result of either doing too much too soon OR from a ball strike only and not having contact with the heel. I’m going to see if I can’t change to a mid strike tomorrow or at least try flat footed and see what happens. I will say that I have not had this little heel pain in years, so that is encouraging. Zero calf pain since Friday; some tightness on Thursday.
Afternoon- pain remains. Seems to be a bruised /very sore spot on the top of my foot, more at the base of my leg. I don’t know that this is a toe thing, since they feel fine. Definitely taking it easy. At this point, walking at all is painful, so I don’t know if I can do anything tomorrow. Boo. :( Ice; stretch foot; ankle brace overnight; hurts even to wiggle my toes; extremely painful; have a really hard time walking in afternoon; completely unable to crack foot. Tuesday was better but still pretty painful. Also took Wednesday off due to pain. Foot was starting to crack again on Tuesday; more so on Wed. Stayed on ibuprofen for anti-inflammatory.
Thursday; Day 5- total only ½ in VFFs due to top of foot injury L foot; moderate pain throughout; wondering now if it could be where the top of the shoe ends on foot; pain was less intense in regular shoe, but R heel was starting to hurt since I was putting more pressure on R side.
Friday; Day 6- total 1 mile in VFFs; still moderate pain in top of L foot; taking it slower in the feet; R heel was more painful. I have to think this is some sort of muscle thing in the top of the foot, or where the shoe edge is putting pressure. Have been doing a lot of stretching on the top of foot, and it is sore and painful initially until it stretches.
Monday; Day 7- total ran 1.5 miles in VFFs; still moderate pain in top of L foot, although the top of foot was able to crack a few times during run; went slower so as not to delay recovery; still needing to stretch foot quite a bit all throughout the day; continue trying to go barefoot as much as possible.
Tuesday; Day 8 – total ran all 1.25 in VFFs very slowly; stopped short because of the pain in foot and transferred to other shoes; ended up with quite a considerable bit of pain and spent a good bit of time in the evening icing; R heel was also quite sore today. Ibuprofen at bedtime to help with the throbbing.
Wednesday; Day 9 – total 1.5 in VFFs; walked first ¼; had decided yesterday not to use them today, so I started slowly to see how my foot was feeling. LOTS and lots of foot cracking while running; and boy, does that feel good! My foot has not been cracking when getting up in morning and after long periods of time off of it as it usually does, so this always feel sooooo much better when it cracks and settles.
Thursday; Day 10- total 2 in VFFs, pushed a wee little bit more today, so we’ll see how I end up feeling- 50 miles total since I got the VFFs; 19.25 miles in them; foot did a bit of cracking during run, which always feels so much better; working on my stride so I can build on time and distance; still doing *a lot* of stretching the top of the L foot; also calf stretches; more hip pain after run yesterday, so back to doing more hip exercises before running; feeling encouraged and can’t wait to cut loose in VFFs without having pain; having to hold back and concentrate on each strike bites and I am *really* looking forward to just running and not constantly having to think about it the entire time. Both feet felt good enough to get back to a 4 day running week; contemplated a fifth, but don’t want my quads to revolt.
I will give updates every 50 miles or so. Please share your experience with me, and stay tuned!
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