Vibram KSO EVOs

Vibram KSO EVOs

Hi all, first post here - yay :-).

I started the C25K in order to get fitter/lose weight. I am touching 6' 2", 290lbs (yep!) and according to the fitness gadget on my wrist average about 600-1000 steps a day (software engineer who works from home).

I knew I needed to do something when I stepped on the scales and it said 'one at a time please' :-).

I tried to run a few years ago but quite severe lower back pain, shin splints and my dodgy knees (from lost of martial arts in my youth) all combined to make running excruciatingly painful. So, a trip to the running shop, and embarrassing 10 minutes running in front of the staff, >£100 later and I had some Brooks running shoes with a heel the size of my average slice of cake.

I managed the first 3 weeks of C25K with these trainers (by the way - if you are starting this now and struggling then SLOW THE HECK DOWN! - time spent running is important, speed? not at all) but I was still uncomfortable. My running trainers were wrecked after using them as normal trainers so I needed to get some new ones.

After reading a bazillion blog posts about the very dodgy pseudo-science around running trainers I came across an interesting 'fact' ('fact' as in: according to the internet) - the $5Billion running shoe industry that has emerged in the past 30 years has _not_ shown a correlation with a reduction in running injuries. Yep.

A new(ish) trend is emerging of 'bare foot running', the main principle behind it is:

- running is hard, really hard on the body

- adults don't naturally have good form

- training shoes _mask_ the 2 to 3 times your body weight impact - the impact is still there and still goes through your joints but it is 'muted' by the shoe

Good running form (so I read) is:

- exactly what your kids do when they go run barefoot in the grass

- landing with your foot underneath your hips

- upright posture

- gliding rather than pounding

So, in essence, we are probably all running badly, subjecting your bodies to a terrifying amount of force and running shoes mask it.

A quick reading of another bazillion pages around barefoot running shoes, one purchase from later (no affiliation, just a very satisfied customer!) later and I have my funky Vibram FiveFingers (the KSO EVO which is the all-rounder). Did this magically transform my running - was I a gliding gazelle?

w4d3 with these and the answer is no. It was painful and awkward. Which is great, because the _reason_ it was painful and awkward was my form wasn't great (I actually have quite good form since I read up on it, but my cadence was a little slow). My second run (w5d1) I spent improving my form and my last run (w5d2) was wonderful (even if i was running on a water logged field where in some parts the water was about 6" deep and I have a stinking head cold!

I was also struck by the number of reports of "I used to run, couldn't because of debilitating knee/ankle/leg/hip/back pain and gave it up. I tried barefoot running and _no_ pain!".

That great big wall of text is to say that maybe, just maybe, running trainers might not be the greatest thing on earth, pain is there to tell you to do something else/training shoes mute that message. Maybe, just maybe you might want to try some 'barefoot' running shoes :-).

Tomorrow is w5d3 - I really hope my cold has gone and the field isn't so water logged :-) - 20 minutes - what are they thinking!?

God bless all, and keep on running!

16 Replies

  • I started running in lightweight walking boots, not having possessed trainers for many years. When I decided to treat myself to running shoes, it was completely by chance that I ended up with minimalist because I was just looking for something at least a bit more ethical. I am not sure all the "Ooh, you need to be careful with those" stuff applies when you are a beginner runner, only if you are used to running in other sorts of shoe. I did once get fitted with other trail running shoes and they were awful, couldn't feel the ground

    I don't fancy FiveFingers personally (I have issues with both second toes - one with no joint following surgery and the other some sort of damage which makes it sensitive - I can't walk around barefoot safely and can't wear open toed sandals) and I think my surfaces contain too many hazards for their durability.

    I think maybe if you are restricted to running mainly on hard surfaces, the chunk of Victoria Sandwich underneath might be more helpful though?

    It's really interesting to see a beginner in this sort of shoe, thanks for posting!

  • All this talk of Victoria Sandwich isn't helping my weight loss :-).

    I think (based on my non-scientific consumption of google results) that the padding is fine, it is more the 'heel drop' that is the problem. There are a bunch of minimalist running shoes that also provide some cushioning for the whole foot:

  • It's probably a neurological thing with me. Plus my terrains of choice (who needs padding when you are calf deep in a peaty puddle?)

  • I had bad shin splints and moved to a lower drop shoe, not as minimal as five fingers, but just 4mm drop. Ah much better. They are cushioned though so still feel nice and comfy

    You should be doing 10,000 steps a day minimum by the way. It's not difficult to achieve now you're running but try and do it every day.

    Keep mooooooooooooooooooooving!

  • I know - that 10K steps is quite hard, just in terms of finding the time. If I take the kids to school and pick them up and do the c25K walk that takes me up to around 8K.

    It is interesting the difference between the steps that the iPhone counts compared to the steps that my vivoactive counts - the iPhone is usually significantly more.

  • Mind you, the vivoactive counts steps whenever my wrist moves, so washing up, driving the car etc. all count :-)

  • Very interesting misswobble. Running cured years of shin splints for me.

    Sadly still finding it a major challenge to do 10,000 steps 3x a week - the run days often help but no guarantee. And for me, a run of 10,000 step days will be followed by very low step days until I recover.

  • When I worked from home, somedays, once in the office I never moved from my desk so i completely understand your predicament. Book an appointment in your diary everyday to go for a walk, and don't use excuses not to do it. Even a ten minute walk will make you feel refreshed and will help add more steps to your weekly count. You'll also find that it helps re-direct your mind so you work more efficiently when you get back.

  • Well, I spend most of my day tucked up in bed for medical reasons and get very ill if I don't, but my husband works at home and he does go for a walk every day at lunchtime, and often goes for what he calls a 'design walk' when he needs to think through a pieces of work.

    What I find interesting is that it *isn't* the big exercise activities that make the difference (ie just because I went for a 30 minute run (and by definition 10 minutes walking on top of that, doesn't mean I'll hit the target) It's that fuss, fuss, fussing housework!

  • Welcome and well done for taking the plunge into this dark addictive world! And good luck with all of your goals.

    I read your post with interest because I've toyed with the idea of trying minimalist running and I've long thought that sports companies are onto a really good thing telling us we need these special cushioned shoes that can cost an arm and a leg. And I've questioned whether we really need them.

    Logic says we should run perfectly well, like we used to as kids, barefoot and without needing any support. However, the big problem with this logic is we have to factor in, for most people, a lifetime of not running and sitting for large amounts of time. Personally, I think this is the reason why so many of us get injured. Rather an blaming the shoes I think it's just that our bodies are not strong/flexible/supple enough to cope with the demands of running.

    I haven't done a great deal of research, just a little. But I'm always interested in hearing what people have to say on this subject. I have tried to find out what the elite runners wear in training as I reckon they would have all the latest data to hand and would be informed enough to make that very significant decision of what shoes to wear based on some kind of science and fact. From what I see, they run in the same shoes most of us run in - ie something with a bit of support.

    So, I'm sticking with my cushioned shoes in the meantime, because if they're good enough for Mo, Paula et al then they're certainly good enough for a recreational runner like me. But I'll be very interested to read how you get on with your barefoot shoes. Keep us posted and good luck.

  • Hi, and thanks for the welcome.

    It is addictive isn't it :-).

    I think one point worth bringing out of this thread is that barefoot running doesn't really let you get away with bad form where as 'padded' trainers do so for a newbie (w5d3 tomorrow, although if the field is still as waterlogged I should classify more like a swim :-)) it has really helped avoid the usual running mistakes.

    If you look at the Mos and Paulas you will see that they their form is actually pretty consistent with the form advocated by the barefoots brigade.

    I don't think the message is that running trainers are bad per se, more they allow you to get away with bad form.

  • Well, there are two things here: one the whole barefoot running concept, and two, the 'barefoot shoe'.

    The huge boom in barefoot running was sparked by Chris McDougall's book 'Born to Run' and its tales of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico. All of sudden every runner in the world (not just the ponytailed Prius drivers and vegan restaurant waiters) wanted to cast off their cushioned running shoes and run as nature intended, barefoot and forefoot striking. Because, y'know, Ethiopan marathon runners run like that and so do the superatheltes of the Mexican canyons. What this slightly overlooked was that a.) these runners are generally running on sand or dirt, and b.) they have been running like that their whole lives, and their joints, muscles, biomechanics etc have adapted specifically to that way of running, rather than having spent 20, 30, 40 or more years doing it the way we all have and suddenly trying to transition to it.

    The issue of the 'barefoot shoe' is somewhat more vexed. To be fair to Vibram, the Five-fingers was never intended to be a running shoe: it was designed for yachtsmen so they could have improved grip on wet slippery decks while still having the flexibility of being barefoot. However when the 'barefoot boom' happened, many of the new disciples decided that they wanted to run bearefoot without actually being barfeoot. The problem with this is that by protecting the sole of the foot, the triggers that cause the brain to adapt the running style don't happen, and you don't run at all in the same way as if you were actually barefoot. Further, the claims that Vibram made when they saw the sudden surge in sales, to whit that their shoes:

    Improved foot health;

    • Reduced risk of injury;

    • Strengthened muscles in the feet and lower legs;

    • Stimulated neural function improving balance, agility and range of motion;

    • Improved spine alignment

    • Reduced lower back pain; and

    • Improved proprioception and body awareness.

    transpired to have been inveneted by their marketing department, and have no basis in scientific/medical research whatsoever. This came out when a Class law action was taken out against Vibram by 150,000 purchasers of the shoes.

    Vibram were found to have acted illegally in making these bogus claims to intentionally deceive customers, and had to pay ut $3.75 million in damages to customers, and pledge not to make any such claims regarding their footwear again.

    Indeed when research was conducted into the effects of wearing Vibram shoes for running the conlusion was that they cause an increase in bone marrpw edema, the precursor to stress fracture.

    Interestingly Vibram are now being sued again, this time by the family of Adebe Bikila, who famously won the 1960 Olympic marathon in Rome running barefoot, for illegally using his name and likeness to promote their shoes.

  • Well......that isn't actually the conclusion they came to: "Conclusion: Runners interested in transitioning to minimalist running shoes, such as Vibram FiveFingers should transition very slowly and gradually in order to avoid potential stress injury in the foot." which time and time again is said by barefoot running advocates.

    I fortunately haven't spent 20, 30 or 40 more years running, only 5 weeks (except as a teenager when you can get away with anything). :-).

    To be blunt, I am not at all convinced by the very little science of what I have read on either side - this study in question had a trivially small study group of 36 runners so hardly representative.

    (I do completely agree on the numpty marketing department making those claims)

  • Presumably though you have spent some time walking?

    I don't particularly have a dog in the fight on this one. I wear very minimalist shoes for OCRs and more extreme terrain trail running activities, and they work brilliantly for me. I wear heavily cushioned shoes for long distance road and hard track runs - anything over HM distance and my bines and joints suffer terribly in minimal shoes. So much so that I have now switched to Hoka One Ones for ultra training, which make me feel like a memebr of the Spice Girls circa 1994. I would be Old Spice, presumably.

    I am all for trying things that can improve form and function. I am continuously subjecting myself to experiments in nutrition and physical training, but am very cautious with anything that claims to reverse the whole orthodoxy, and in the Vibram instance the whole 'running shoes are a conspiracy and Reebok/Asics etc are the Illuminati' schtick pinged my radar quite loudly, particularly when it it turned out to be a load of Broscience and marketing Doublespeak.

    Also, all science and health aside, Vibrams are the fitness equivalent of Crocs.

  • "Oh dear" I think to myself as I look at my beloved crocs :-).

  • Whatever works for you I guess and I wish you lots of luck with the programme. For me, personally, I am very comfy in my Asics (and I do run on quite challenging terrain) and am successfully progressing with my running so will not be looking to change any time some! Have read both sides of the barefoot debate and I think Rignold makes some very pertinent points. Bottom line is, it just doesn't appeal to me! However, if you're out there and running successfully then good for you. It's all about getting out there and spreading the word🏃🏻🙂🏃🏻. Good luck🙂

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