Saturday, April 1, 2017

Vibram Five Fingers for running

Below are the pair of Vibram Five Fingers shoes I have. I watched reviews on Youtube on all the Vibram shoes, and everyone had positive things to say. I saw runners raving about running in them. So I figured I would try a short run here and there, and the novelty would soon wear off, and I'd probably go back to running in my thick, cushioned Asics, right?

Well, to my surprise, I was wrong! These Vibrams are dream shoes to run in! Let me explain:
My first run in them was just 3km, down the road and back. I made the mistake of running almost the whole run up on my toes, not really letting my heels down to touch the ground. I say mistake, because you are not supposed to do that, you are just meant to run naturally. But I must say I was scared to let my heels touch the ground.
Anyway, the next run - which was a 4km time trial, I realised I could just run normally and naturally in these shoes, and whilst, yes, the ground was more "felt" - I also felt I could just run in a freer and faster way. Thereafter I had a long run coming up, and I was scared to try it in these Vibrams, so I wore my heavily cushioned, padded, motion-controlled Asics. Well, I had to drop out the run at 18kms due to hip and knee pain in my right leg. It's my "typical" injury - I always get tightness and soreness in my right hip/butt/leg. So I stopped running at 18kms, even though my muscles could have carried on, I didn't want to force it and seriously injure myself. The pain was pretty intense. I rested and asked around for the name and number of good chiros and physios.

Now, an aside: I have had this recurring injury for years. I have been been to three chiros over the last 12 years for it. It has never been solved, it never goes away. I have noticed one thing, that my right butt muscle is weaker than the left - so I focus now on not favoring my left leg, if I realise I am doing that.

Ok, so the next run that I wanted to do with my running club was a 14km route. I had rested four days after the long run in my Asics, and the hip/leg/going to my knee pain was pretty much gone. But I didn't want to exacerbate it - what to do? I was scared to run in Asics, but also nervous to use the Vibrams as I had only gone maximum of 4kms in them. Eek. Well, Vibrams it was. I decided to see if the hip/joint pain would come back in the Vibrams. I wanted to know if the pain was due to the distance I had run, or due to the shoes. And there was only one way to find out.

And the short answer: the joint pain in my right leg didn't recur. I just felt a slight tweak in my right knee, but nothing serious, and that could have been because that knee gets affected when my right hip gets sore - so it could have been left over from the previous run. But after running my best and strongest 14km in Vibrams, even though my muscles in my lower legs, especially the springy ones under my calves, were SORE, it was a muscular pain, a pain that, by the next day was less, and is easy to recover from. But no sore hip, no sore knees. No joint issues. I could not quite believe it.

Running in Vibrams feels completely different to running in traditional running shoes. There is NO help from the shoes. Your feet and legs have to do ALL the work. But that's also better, in that you build up foot and leg strength. Up hills is easier, I find, as I just go up on my toes, taking short little toe push offs. My feet are more sore after running in Vibrams, but it's a good sore. I now realise how little work my feet actually did in my Asics, which makes me think that the Asics makes me move from my hips rather than from my feet, which is where the movement is supposed to start from.

It's only been two comparison runs, but so far, the comparison is amazing. In the Vibrams I feel springy and natural. I feel like a kid set free. I ran that 14km at the front of the group, keeping up with the faster three men! I even had a little energy to do a small sprint at the end! I am beyond amazed. I never quite expected to enjoy the Vibrams so much. So...whilst I can't say that they have solved all my running problems, I feel, at least, for now, that I am onto the right track. The barefoot-running STYLE is certainly one that suits me. And it would appear that these shoes are the ones that allow me to move in a better way. Related image
The pair of shoes I have run in

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