Ok...so longtime aikiwebfolks know of my knee travails starting 11 yrs ago when my ACL/medial meniscus blew out...lots of ups & downs, times off the mat....and the severe knee pain of osteoarthritis that has limited my training + other activities.
Since starting to work on internal stuff - which involves a fair amount of standing w/ weight shifts, which Really Bothers The Knee - I've also starting focusing more especially since the seminar in Seattle on what it means to really use natural movement, to have good structure, to relax, etc... and even with opening my hips more and letting them take over for my knees, my knee was Not Happy.
At the same time...over the years I've been less and less tolerant of shoes. A dozen years before starting aikido, I had a very bad case of plantar fasciitis, had both feet taped for weeks, was given custom rigid orthotics and exercises....and with time, it seemed the "better" the shoe was, the more rigid the orthotic was, the more my foot would fight it. I'd buy "good" shoes and give them away after two months. Ended up buying cheap shit and never wearing the same style more than two days in a row in an attempt to keep my feet happy.
As of two weeks ago I was down to three pairs of shoes I could wear, each with limited uses due to color or general condition. At home, going barefoot. So I decided to give the Vibram Five Fingers a try just to see if they would make my feet happy.
I bought them Monday, wore them in the office a few hours, very happy feet. I wore them Tuesday in the office six hours, very happy feet. Oh and by the way, my knee didn't hurt either day...
Wednesday I wore them all morning, then to my one hour QuiGong class (standing weight shifts on wood floor: ALWAYS hurts my knee), then drove my pickup an hour and walked down a dirt and rock slope to a patient's shack, visited, walked back up the slope and drove home. Did I mention my knee didn't hurt?
Today I wore them all day at work, seeing clients, walking around town...finally took them off to train at the dojo. During tonight's class, felt so good that for the first time in 11 years, I shikko'd - four steps - to demo proper body use to a newbie. My knee didn't hurt.
My structure and relaxation might not be great (yet) but hey, did I mention that my knee doesn't hurt?