A couple of weeks ago, I bought a pair of Merrell Pace Gloves and I love them. I used to have a lot of shin pain when I walked and ran, but I have no pain when I wear them. I'm also recovering from a hip injury, which is painful when I wear traditional walking shoes, but not in my new shoes, even when I do all-out sprints.
Today I went to a local shoe store to buy a pair of Merrell Pure Gloves for more casual wear. I got talked into a foot evaluation and was told that I need a lot more arch support. When I explained that shoes with arch support exacerbate my problems, the sales lady informed me that I needed very supportive shoes AND inserts. I stuck to my guns and bought the Pure Gloves, much to her dismay!
It seems to me that "sturdy shoes" and "arch support" are neolithic concepts, but I want to make sure I'm not missing something. What has your experience been with minimal shoes or trying to buy them?
You DO need arch support, which is what your natural arches provide if you walk without shoes that let your real arches sit back and go out of business. If you've been wearing shoes with arches forever, your foot muscles in the arch area have probably atrophied and you need to build them back up.
You're making a great start with the Merrells but do be careful - plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, and other foot ailments are common among those who jump into the minimalist shoe thing too quickly.
For information on transitioning into those kinds of shoes at a pace that allows you to build up your arches properly. This page focuses on running barefoot but the go-slow concept is clear here - http://www.barefootted.com/index.php?q=/2010/04/so-you-wanna-start-running-barefoot.html
You'll also enjoy the discussion forums at http://birthdayshoes.com/ - you'll get any question you want answered about minimalist shoes, answered here.
I am a very flat footed person... my whole life i have struggled with shoes! When i would try to wear any kind of sport shoes with arch support they would always make my feet hurt so bad. Many years ago i settled on skate shoes(vans, DC's), they had minimal arch support and had flat bottoms.
Then someone showed me the Merrell shoes, and its all i have worn since, within a day, my foot pain went away, within a week my back and knee pain went away... it has been a revolutionary experience for me! I will definitely be buying another pair soon!
All my nagging little aches and injuries (in particular I used to have iliotibial band syndrome and would get shin splints often when I upped my running mileage) completely went away when I stopped running and walking in sturdy shoes with a lot of support that forced me to heel-strike when I'm a natural forefoot/midfoot runner. And I'm only in Nike Frees, not VFFs or anything. Seriously amazing, in my opinion. I don't get why people think human feet are so special and delicate that we need to wear huge clunky gait-altering blocks on our feet to be safe and comfortable. How ridiculous. Good for you standing up the saleslady. By the way how are the Pure Gloves? I've been thinking about trying a more minimalist shoe but want to know if they're worth the money.
It is tempting to blow off the slow progress people recommend to avoid injury when going barefoot or near bare. I ignored it. I nuked my calves by running wrong (long strides) and limped for a weak. Fixed that, ran 6 miles and limped for a weak because my hip tendons weren't ready. Now I can run 10 and not limp. But I bet I would have progressed faster if I didn't insist on kicking my own ass.
I used to have pain on the bottom of my feet, that got worse the longer I stood on my feet. Getting up in the morning was painful because it was a pins and needles feeling over the whole part of both of my feet.
Went to the doctor and was told I needed orthotics, had a specialist come to my house take a mold of my food and create a custom pair of orthotics for the low cost of around 400 dollars.
Several years later I wore them out and I needed a new pair, this time the same specialist showed up and had some kind of pad I walked over to show how much pressure was exerted on each part of my foot.
Took another mold of my foot and my second pair of orthotics for another 400 dollars or so. This time she concluded that I needed a extra support in the front center of my foot.
The third time I went to a different specialist, this time another 400 or more. Those pair last me 4 years.
By this time I was not living at home, my mother was not covering the costs and I bought a pair of Vibrams for 95 bucks. After 2 months I removed my orthotics out of my shoes and tossed them in the garbage, that was well over a year ago.
All the bloody technology we have and all these scans of my feet and not one of those "specialists" said hey, maybe you should build up the muscles in your feet and let your foot do what it was designed to do. That was never even questioned, I "needed" to use extra support because I have over extended arches. If I wasn't so cheap chances are I would still be wearing them.
The first 2 months were horrid, it was like over training for my feet, and I only wore them around the gym not even during a workout. Just when I was training people and walking.
I have worn arch supports (orthopedic inserts) for about 4 years because of a diagnosis of plantar fasciitis. At the time I got them, I weighed around 380. My feet hurt from normal walking. Between cortisone shots, steroid packs, and those supports, my feet stopped hurting almost entirely.
I weigh 280 now and just bought a pair of Vibrams last week. I was very hesitant/worried to do so, but really wanted to try them out. I have only ran in them once (it started to rain while I was out walking), but suffered no ill effects. If I wear them all day, my feet hurt a little, but it is usually gone the next morning (which is typically the worst time for plantar fasciitis). I'm hoping that they will help my feet heal themselves, but I remain worried about it and have thus far (partially due to other issues) avoided running in them.
I get the same thing from the shoe salespeople. I actually have very flexible feet and traditional athletic shoes kill my feet, even Nike Frees. I have hiked the Rockies for miles in the VFFs with no problems at all. I even strength train in them and get lots of questions from anyone who hasn't seen them before. The first question is almost always about arch support. I have always walked barefoot in the summer months and in my house, so the transition to VFFs was not a problem for me - my arches have always been flexible and strong.
Much like someone wearing a cast on their leg has a weak leg, someone who wears arch supports has weak feet... It will take some time for you to (a) strengthen your feet to their natural state of srong and flexible (b) re- learn to walk and run without the "bouncing" that walking and running in shoes creates. (think of the smooth gait of an African woman carrying water on her head)
I encourage all humans who are interested in walking and running in minimal shoes (or none) to read "Barefoot Running Step By Step" by Ken Bob Saxton. He's a vegan, but don't hold that against him:)