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Old 09-15-2011, 11:56 PM   #1
Janet Rosen
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Minimal Shoes and My Knee Pain

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?

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 09-16-2011, 12:11 AM   #2
Michael Hackett
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Re: Minimal Shoes and My Knee Pain

And the best part is you can run around Hoopa in 'em and increase tourism when the footprints are reported!

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 09-16-2011, 03:50 AM   #3
Michael Varin
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Re: Minimal Shoes and My Knee Pain

Well, imagine that!?!

I'm a big believer in minimalist footwear.

I hope those Five Fingers keep working out for you.

I bought my wife a pair a couple of months ago, and she likes them a lot. . . She already already had very healthy feet and legs, though.

-Michael
"Through aiki we can feel the mind of the enemy who comes to attack and are thus able to respond immediately." - M. Mochizuki
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Old 09-16-2011, 04:01 AM   #4
grondahl
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Re: Minimal Shoes and My Knee Pain

Terra Plana and Merrell also makes minimalist shoes for everyday use. Five Fingers just isn´t an option for everyday-use, to ugly.
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Old 09-16-2011, 07:19 AM   #5
Shadowfax
 
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Re: Minimal Shoes and My Knee Pain

Thank you for the review! I have been looking at those shoes for a while now and wondering if they would be worth the big price tag. I have had trouble finding shoes that kept my feet happy for years and my line of work requires me to be on my feet all day. I'm at the point I am replacing shoes every 3 months and having trouble finding shoes that are comfortable enough to stand in for 6-8 hours at a stretch. And I too go barefoot as much as possible.

I don't think they are ugly at all I think they just look different. But If it means my feet and knees will be happy I could care less what they look like.

I also by the way notice that the internal stuff is pretty hard on the knees. Mine are constantly destabilizing during the exercises.
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Old 09-16-2011, 08:41 AM   #6
Rabih Shanshiry
 
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Re: Minimal Shoes and My Knee Pain

Terra Plana was mentioned above. Their line of minimalist footwear is called Vivobarefoot.

If you are thinking of purchasing a Vivobarefoot shoe, do yourself a favor and order through a retailer such as zappos.

I made the mistake of ordering shoes directly from Vivobarefoot's online site. It was a nightmare!

The shoes arrived soiled, defective, and with two left foot inserts. The real fun began when I tried to exchange them.

After multiple contacts, someone finally responded to my return request. I had to take photos and then wait for someone to review them and approve the return. I then had to wait some more for shipping return instructions.

All told - it took one full month to get the return processed requiring multiple emails and phone calls.

Even worse - all I wanted was an exchange. Their ecommerce group said they didn't have any shoes left in that size/color. They suggested I take a 15% discount on the shoes rather than return them. Their retail storefront which operates in the same building said they had several of that specific shoe in stock. Even though I told their ecommerce group that, they refused to send me a replacement pair.

I finally got a full refund after considerable aggravation. I've never had such a miserable online experience.

Last edited by Rabih Shanshiry : 09-16-2011 at 08:48 AM.
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Old 09-16-2011, 08:45 AM   #7
Keith Larman
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Re: Minimal Shoes and My Knee Pain

Been wearing vibram five fingers since they came out. Totally sold. I hate shoes with a passion. I have some nike free for when I go on long walks and/or need to wear something more socially acceptable. But day in, day out, I'm either barefoot, wearing my five fingers (need a new pair), or grumpily tying on the Nike Free minimalist shoes.

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Old 09-16-2011, 08:48 AM   #8
phitruong
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Re: Minimal Shoes and My Knee Pain

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
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.
a woman with only 3 pairs of shoes?!!! how do you live? what has this world coming to? first, the economy, now this! the world we know it is coming to an end!!

sorry, couldn't help myself. i will now perform yonkyo on meself to atone for such outburst. arrrggghhhhhh that's hurt!

holy mother of god, only 3 pairs of shoes??!!!!

*yonkyo again arrrrgghhhhh*

sorry, so sorry
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Old 09-16-2011, 09:04 AM   #9
Cliff Judge
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Re: Minimal Shoes and My Knee Pain

I had a pair of KSOs and liked them a lot, but they proved to be insufficiently puppy proof.

So then I got a pair of the KSO Treks - with the leather uppers. Insanely durable shoes. I've had them for over a year, put them through the wash regularly, hiked up Mitsumine san and Nantai san with them while in Japan last year, and I have done plenty of much more pedestrian hiking around Maryland, and the things just keep going. Normal shoes, I am lucky to get 6 months out of because I overpronate and that causes the soles to wear unevenly.

I care very little about whether or not people think they look weird. I've got no dress code at my job and I am not otherwise interested in passing as normal. But I have got to say one thing about minimalist footwear: it is shocking how assertively your feet smell when wearing them. Even when wearing those five-toed injinjin socks underneath the KSO Treks they are still quite piquant.

I tried out another brand recently - ZEMGear, they make tabi with thin but reasonably durable soles. Not as durable as Vibrams or other leading brands, but much lighter and cheaper - on the order of $40 a pair.
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Old 09-16-2011, 09:19 AM   #10
grondahl
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Re: Minimal Shoes and My Knee Pain

Some online resources for shoe-reviews etc:
http://birthdayshoes.com/ Reviews of all kind of "minimalist" shoes.
http://www.runblogger.com/ Reviews with focus on running.
http://www.runningandrambling.com/ Ditto, also reviews of childrens shoes.
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Old 09-16-2011, 01:26 PM   #11
Janet Rosen
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Re: Minimal Shoes and My Knee Pain

C'mere and grab my ankle....

Quote:
Phi Truong wrote: View Post
a woman with only 3 pairs of shoes?!!! how do you live? what has this world coming to? first, the economy, now this! the world we know it is coming to an end!!

sorry, couldn't help myself. i will now perform yonkyo on meself to atone for such outburst. arrrggghhhhhh that's hurt!

holy mother of god, only 3 pairs of shoes??!!!!

*yonkyo again arrrrgghhhhh*

sorry, so sorry

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 09-16-2011, 01:27 PM   #12
Janet Rosen
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Re: Minimal Shoes and My Knee Pain

I don't care if they are odd looking - I've been accused of much the same - BUT will not countenance wearing them in anything but basic black.
A social work intern at work is threatening to bring in little stick-on "gems" to decorate the toenail areas...

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 09-17-2011, 04:02 AM   #13
Michael Varin
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Re: Minimal Shoes and My Knee Pain

Quote:
Cliff Judge wrote:
Normal shoes, I am lucky to get 6 months out of because I overpronate and that causes the soles to wear unevenly.
It is interesting that you just except this belief.

Don't you think you could change this with the proper attention?

You could probably teach yourself to have a mid-foot strike, which would make pronation a non-issue.

-Michael
"Through aiki we can feel the mind of the enemy who comes to attack and are thus able to respond immediately." - M. Mochizuki
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Old 09-17-2011, 03:29 PM   #14
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Minimal Shoes and My Knee Pain

That's awesome, Janet!!! Having a hippie for a mom, I grew up running around barefoot a lot. I remember noticing that when I wore shoes more, and then would go barefoot again, I felt the impacts more and would get more sprains. Over time I forgot this (and was told by my sports medicine doctor to wear "good shoes") until I started reading Born to Run a year or two ago. Now I'm sold on the "natural" method and am trying to reclaim my foot strength/tone. Congrats again! I'd just begun to experience chronic knee pain in the last handful of years, so I can appreciate a little of how nice it must feel!

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 09-17-2011, 04:44 PM   #15
Janet Rosen
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Re: Minimal Shoes and My Knee Pain

Wow. Thanks to all for comments, suggestions, etc. A number of different folks mentioned the Trek version of what I have and think I'll have to get those. Means doing without a bunch of smaller expenditures for a while but this is just too important to, pardon the expression, walk away from :-)

Janet Rosen
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Old 09-17-2011, 07:16 PM   #16
Stephen Fasen
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Red face Re: Minimal Shoes and My Knee Pain

I highly recommend Kigo Footwear. The shoes are functional, extremely comfortable, very light and durable, and they have a bit more curb appeal than the five fingers. For martial arts applications you will find they respond well to virtually any movement, work very well for sword work where tabi are not reasonable options, and they are great to run in. Did I mention you don't look like a counter culture exercise in toe isolation?
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Old 09-18-2011, 02:27 PM   #17
Rob Watson
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Re: Minimal Shoes and My Knee Pain

Everyone training is for the birds. It's the shoes. Bo knows. I wear Tiva with white socks ... what do I know.

"In my opinion, the time of spreading aikido to the world is finished; now we have to focus on quality." Yamada Yoshimitsu

Ultracrepidarianism ... don't.
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Old 09-18-2011, 03:20 PM   #18
matty_mojo911
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Re: Minimal Shoes and My Knee Pain

I see a big world wide movement towards less shoes, makes sense doesn't it. How many thousands of years did we develop with no shoes? Mind you they didn't have concrete then did they - I wouldn't fancy running barefoot on concrete too much.
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Old 09-18-2011, 03:31 PM   #19
Shadowfax
 
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Re: Minimal Shoes and My Knee Pain

Quote:
Matt Morris wrote: View Post
I see a big world wide movement towards less shoes, makes sense doesn't it. How many thousands of years did we develop with no shoes? Mind you they didn't have concrete then did they - I wouldn't fancy running barefoot on concrete too much.
Horse people have been working towards this for years.
Interesting thing is we are finding out that horses don't need shoes even the ones who work on concrete and asphalt every day.

http://www.thehorseshoof.com/success_Houston1.html

So hey why not people too?
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Old 09-19-2011, 01:46 PM   #20
Cliff Judge
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Re: Minimal Shoes and My Knee Pain

Quote:
Michael Varin wrote: View Post
It is interesting that you just except this belief.

Don't you think you could change this with the proper attention?

You could probably teach yourself to have a mid-foot strike, which would make pronation a non-issue.
Since you brought it up...

When I started practicing sword in early 2010 I would very consciously place my weight on the parts of the feet that my school uses. That pair of shoes actually did wear much more evenly than usual, but then I wound up with a bunch of new tightness in my hips which I had to address by relaxing there, and now my present pair of shoes seems to be back to wearing away rapidly on the inside of the sole.
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Old 09-19-2011, 04:52 PM   #21
lbb
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Re: Minimal Shoes and My Knee Pain

There are many more options for minimalist shoes now than there were a couple years ago. I suspect that some of them are probably seeking to cash in on a perceived trend rather than really knowledgeable and making a good product. I have a pair of "invisible shoe" huaraches that I wear in warm weather, although to be honest, I prefer my tevas which are somewhat less minimalist. I just bought a pair of Soft Star shoes for colder-weather wear, haven't done any walking in them yet, but (and this may sound weird) they are the most comfortable shoes I've ever driven in. My feet tend to sweat a lot which means they're either hot or cold, but these shoes have a lofted fleece insole that somehow magically keeps everything at the perfect temp. Many makers of athletic shoes have a minimalist shoe in their product line now -- again, hard to say which are good and which are simply cashing in.
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Old 09-19-2011, 08:01 PM   #22
Janet Rosen
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Re: Minimal Shoes and My Knee Pain

I tried Teva sandals about three yrs ago and fought them every moment they were on, found the straps/binding horribly restricting. Into the giveaway box they went....

Janet Rosen
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Old 09-20-2011, 08:33 AM   #23
lbb
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Re: Minimal Shoes and My Knee Pain

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
I tried Teva sandals about three yrs ago and fought them every moment they were on, found the straps/binding horribly restricting. Into the giveaway box they went....
Well, there's Tevas and then there's Tevas. I wear the Hurricane 3 which is one of their simplest designs. Many Tevas, and most other brands of sandals, have very elaborate and clunky strap arrangements, heel cups, etc., and I can't wear them because they chafe me to death.
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Old 09-20-2011, 10:34 AM   #24
Rabih Shanshiry
 
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Re: Minimal Shoes and My Knee Pain

Quote:
Cherie Cornmesser wrote: View Post
Interesting thing is we are finding out that horses don't need shoes even the ones who work on concrete and asphalt every day.

http://www.thehorseshoof.com/success_Houston1.html
Thanks for sharing that. I found it very interesting!
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Old 09-20-2011, 04:09 PM   #25
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Minimal Shoes and My Knee Pain

I love five fingers. army says we can't wear em for formal PT since they don't present a military appearance. I do wear them on my own time though and have had many of the same positive experiences you mention. Wore them alot in Afghanistan when i could.

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