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Update on Vibram five fingers

I've been out twice now in my new minimalistic toe shoes and I do like them. Once you've mastered the technique they are easy to get on. The first time I tried though I ended up with 2 toes squashed into one pouch and all sorts of odd things. They are light which makes you feel a bit gazelle-like and they helped take 22 seconds off my PB over 5k yesterday (but I was going for it deliberately for the first time in ages, so shoes may have been irrelevant!). On the bad side I have bruised the bottom of my left heel, thereby proving I am not a gazelle but a pounding, clod-hopping heel striker who must have pounded her left heel into a hard stone at one point. It hasn't put me off though, I will stick with them and try and harden my feet up. I think it will do my toes good to be able to spread out and grip, instead of being squashed into shoes. I hope to be able to pick up pencils and things with my toes again soon! But it will take a while to adapt properly!

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22 seconds is not to be sneezed at!

What sort of surface are you running on?

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I run on all sorts. The normal route starts off as pavement, then crosses the common as a gravelly path. Later I run through woods for a short distance and that path is very stony and uneven, I think that's where I did the damage. Then back to a gravel trail and normal pavement and tarmac. That route is pretty hard on the feet. I may take them across fields and along woodland paths which are more carpeted with pine needles next weekend.

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My running journey started out with NIKE Free 5.0's and I still love them -- BUT I have wide feet and short toes and sometimes run/walk so they are not perfect for me. I have since tried shoes from ASICS but they are like running in clodhoppers compared to the NIKES. I am not sure about shoes that are shaped like feet - but I am sure about shoes that feel like slippers (the NIKES) . What I really need is a flat plate of thin rubber which somehow magically straps to the underside of my foot - with no padding, or attempts to "correct" my feet, etc. I guess it is also a matter of "horses for courses". The shoes that are worn in the 100 metre sprint are not the same shoes worn during the marathon. BTW - the men that ran in NIKES attempt for the sub-2hour marathon recently all weighed about 58 Kg. So I guess we can't really compare their footware to what we wear - unless of course we weigh 58 Kg , and I do NOT!! :)

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Bazza1234 I think you'd like the Vibrams. They are moulded, but you can definitely feel the ground when running. It's like having an extra skin, but the sole is a bit tougher. There is no "correction" and I'm hoping that as my feet become stronger because they have to support themselves that they will self correct. We will see!

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You might like this exercise JSS. A friend who does yoga gave it to me and I try to do it every night.

Sit with your left leg crossed over your right. Use a little oil or cream and using your right hand with your left foot, use each finger to separate two toes so that the palm of your hand faces the sole of your foot. It sounds simple but the first time I tried it I couldn't get my finger between a few of my toes at all they were so squished! But now I can get my fingers right in. This helps spread the toes and makes them more flexible.

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Just tried it and I think it will help. Thanks. My toes are not squished and I can spread them, but I can't bend them as I would like.

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Just had a go too. Can do it but not comfortable.

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What surface did you attempt it on?

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Hello, if that question was to me, it was the fingers between your toes I tried not the running - so I was sat on the sofa!.

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Ah, I see.

As with most things, though, practice makes perfect

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I would love to try this one days but they seem expensive if i don't get on with them!

Especially as my feet get used as a ruler there so flat!

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Sounds interesting, and probably to be expected that there will be a phase of getting used to them. But I hope it'll all prove to be excellent once your feet get more used to them.

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It's certainly great to see another embracing the barefoot running movement.

See my recent post: healthunlocked.com/couchto5...

As you've no doubt quickly discovered, the adoption of a mid-foot landing and shorter stride pattern both become paramount when running in minimalist footwear, due to the lack of cushioning in the outsole. However, such a stride pattern helps to ensure that the feet land directly in line with the body, allowing for greater dissipation and absorption of force throughout the soft tissue of the feet and legs, meaning it's kinder upon the joints.

Incidentally, if you've suffered from increased aching and fatigue in the calves, this perfectly normal, due to far greater intrinsic movement of the soft tissue in your legs and feet.

As a regular barefoot runner (yes, I run unshod), in terms of progressive toughening of the skin and connective tissue of the feet, the best advice I can offer is to go barefoot outdoors as frequently as you can, particularly upon firmer surfaces, such as concrete. The idea is to increase the thickness of the fat pad in your forefoot, providing the metatarsal heads with extra protection.

Barefooting outdoors won't necessarily lead to the development of calluses, nor will the skin become dry and cracked, provided the feet receive after care (I use coconut oil upon my feet). In fact, the development of both ought to be avoided. The use of a pumice sponge is fine, to simply smooth the skin's surface, but excessive scrubbing ought to be avoided.

Despite my many years of both barefooting and barefoot running throughout summer months, the skin upon my soles is still largely smooth, feeling more leathery to the touch as opposed to rough, whilst not necessarily losing any of their sensitivity.

Over time, you'll undoubtedly find that your forefoot widens, with greater spacing between the toes, while also possibly finding that the height of your arch increases, purely due to the fact the feet and toes are having to work unaided as they increase in strength.

That said, don't over do it, by attempting to walk or run too far, too soon. However, with sufficient rest (roll your feet out regularly) and conditioning (plantar/dorsi-flexion exercises), you should hopefully find the transition fairly smooth.

Best of luck.

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Thanks for this! I still have real difficulty with the mid foot landing bit, but will work on it. And I'm not really looking forward to a widening forefoot, I have wide, big feet (for a woman) already. But I do want to get my toe mobility back and strengthen my feet generally. I always walk barefoot at home, which is a start, but don't venture barefoot outside often.

Anyway we shall see, I will use them for the shorter runs at the moment - just hope my bruised heel sorts itself out relatively quickly.

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You're welcome JSS.

If the development of flat feet is something that has developed over the years due to over-pronation, for example, working to strengthen your plantar may help to re-create the natural shape your arch once possessed, leaving you feeling a little less apprehensive about the slight widening of the of the forefoot.

Admittedly, through barefooting/barefoot running over the years, although my forefoot has widened a little, its length has reduced, as I now take a size 10 shoe, as opposed to a size 11.

The Vivo Barefoot sandals that I recently purchased are even a size smaller than my usual shoe size.

As for increasing strength and flexibility in the toes, perform toe scrunches with a tea towel beneath your feet on a wooden/laminate floor. Simply place your toes on the edge of it and use your toes to grab and release the towel, allowing it to crumple beneath your feet, before straightening the towel out and trying it again. Alternatively, use your toes to pick up marbles (or similar sized object) and transfer them to a cup.

Regardless of whether it's attempted in normal trainers or minimalist footwear, for example, it can take a little time to transition towards a mid-foot landing, but by paying more attention to what your feet are doing (particularly in Vibrams), you should eventually get there, helped by the fact that heel striking in minimalist footwear is largely unforgiving.

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You're right about the heel-striking!

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Indeed. The pain and discomfort encountered through heel striking, when running barefoot or in minimalist footwear, certainly does make you aware of running form.

Over time, though, your stride should shorten, whilst also finding that turnover of legs quicken, meaning that the feet don't remain in contact with the ground for as long with each foot fall.

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Interesting to hear how you are getting on. Saw a girl in some at Parkrun and felt scared for her someone might tread on her foot. Look forward to hearing how you progress.

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