Barefoot Runners

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shoes >> VFFs >> barefoot? (Read 790 times)

RunrGreg


@RunrGreg

    I have ITBS that seems to crop up every time I go further than about 8 miles (in shoes), so I've been transitioning to barefoot.  So far, I find that, when I run barefoot, a lot of the tension present in my hips and knees disappears.  I'm crossing my fingers that a barefoot/minimalist approach will allow me to reach at least marathon distance without injury.

     

    A few months ago, I bought VFF KSOs and began to transition.  Now that I am up to about 3-4 miles in VFFs, I find that every time I run in them I get blisters on my big toes and/or ball of my foot.  I've tried running in VFFs with Injinji socks, but that just creates blisters on other areas of my feet.  I've tried loading my VFFs up with Blister Shield powder, also to no avail.

     

    I also run barefoot on concrete/asphalt 2-3 times a week, and except for sore feet the next day, I've had no problem with barefoot running.  (I'm up to 1.1 miles barefoot so far.)

     

    So far I haven't had the calf problems a lot of VFF/barefooters get because my regular shoes are Newtons. I got my calf problems out of the way while transitioning from Nikes to Newtons awhile back.  Smile

     

    My questions:

     

    1. Is it normal to have these blister problems with VFFs?  Has anyone been able to overcome this problem with VFFs?

     

    2. Since I am able to run 3-4 miles in VFFs (blister problems aside), is this an indication that I should be able to run 3-4 miles barefoot?  (In other words, should I just ditch the VFFs and go straight to barefoot?)

     

    My approach to life has always been TMTS, so for the first time in my life, I'm trying really hard to make a gradual transition.  Any advice you barefoot/minimalist veterans (or fellow newbies) can give would be much appreciated!

      I've been running in VFF's for a while now and actually developed ITBS.   Before I started running in vff's I had a lot of hip pain in the TFL area.  I'm pretty sure if I kept running in shoes it would have turned into full blown ITBS, but I ended up with a stress fracture first from altering my gait and slapping my feet because my hips hurt so much.  Fast fwd to last month when I was in the middle of half marathon training, I got slammed with the ITBS.  I had been having the same TFL pain again and after 7 miles one day someone grab me with a grappling hook around my knees. God, that hurts!!!   Needless to say, I was walking by mile 6 of the half marathon.  Not happy!  I used the foam roller religiously after that day and I'm happy to say the ITBS is gone, hopefully never to return.  I will continue to use the foam roller, it's my friend now.   Anyway, I just wanted to say that transitioning to VFF's or barefoot is not necessarily a way to cure ITBS.  That tendon has to be stretched and the knots worked out of it or you will always be plagued with it.

       

      I also get blister ALL THE TIME on my big toes.  If it's over a 3 mile run I just put a bandaid on both my toes.  Works fine.  

       

      My husband wore VFF's for the first 6 miles of a half marathon and then took his shoes off and ran the rest barefoot.  He ended up with the nastiest blister on the ball of his foot I have ever seen!  It was sick!!   I'm all for keeping that nice layer of material there to keep my feet soft and somewhat blister free.  Totally barefoot is for cavemen who like nasty blistered rough feet.  Hehe, jk!

       

      RunrGreg


      @RunrGreg

        Thanks for your advice, Anzura!

         

        I have been using a foam roller for about 6 weeks -- to the point that I've nearly turned it into an hourglass shape. Smile

         

        What's the longest distance you've run since starting to use the foam roller?

         


        under a rock

          Strengthen your hips to help with IT band problems. That along with the foam roller, stretching, and a shorter stride have been the winning combo for me.

           Goals: 1)Get my IT Band to cooperate 2) Run lots of trails. 3) Get my back to cooperate.

          RunrGreg


          @RunrGreg

            Thanks, Ashley.

             

            I started doing a series of hip exercises a couple of weeks ago.  Probably not enough time to have an effect yet, but I'll keep at it.

             

            BTW, did 4 miles in VFFs for the first time today.  I hate to admit this, but I put duct tape where I've been getting blisters, and that seems to have done the trick.  I'd rather not rely on duct tape though.

              Are  you sure your Vibrams are the correct size?  It sounds like your feet are slipping around in the shoes causing the blisters...  Just a thought...
              RunrGreg


              @RunrGreg

                Good question, littlechime.

                 

                I think they're as close to a good fit as I can get.  My big toe fits perfectly, with almost no room left, so I can't go any smaller.  But my pinkie toe is so tiny, it almost doesn't even need its own "finger" -- so I don't think I could go any larger either.

                 

                I've wondered if my feet are so far from "average" size (in terms of big toe to pinkie toe ratio) that the VFFs just may not be for me.

                  With respect to getting blisters wearing VFFs, while you are running, try to concentrate on how your feet are landing on the ground. Your feet should land gently and without twisting whilst in contact. You should pick each foot up and not push off with the ball of your foot or your toes. The pendulum motion of swinging your knees will give you forward movement. Remember to aim for around 180 steps per minute.


                  VFFs should fit snugly but then they don't necessarily suit everybody. 

                    Thanks for your advice, Anzura!

                     

                    I have been using a foam roller for about 6 weeks -- to the point that I've nearly turned it into an hourglass shape. Smile

                     

                    What's the longest distance you've run since starting to use the foam roller?

                     

                     

                    If you still feel knots and tightness on the band, you might want to try something harder.  My dh used a wood rolling pin on me a few times.  I do believe the neighbors heard me screaming. 

                     

                    I've only worked my way back up to 6 miles since the ITBS issue.  It was hitting me at 2 miles before, so 6 with no issues is good news to me.  I was planning on 7 today, but I got out too late and my dog overheated and the blisters on my big toes were killing me even with the baindaids!  My feet were too sweaty today.  I'm going to have to figure something out about this.  Maybe duct tape is what I'll have to do too.

                     

                      My ITBS went away completely when I switched to running barefoot almost exclusively a year ago. I never stretch, I run on steep and banked hills, and run twice the miles per week that I did in shoes. It was always the downhills that triggered it when in shoes (regular or vffs). Barefoot, not even a twinge of pain.

                       

                      So you probably know what my advice is.

                       

                      Josh

                      barefootjosh.com

                      RunrGreg


                      @RunrGreg

                        Today I ran 1.7 miles barefoot, then put on the VFFs (with duct tape on big toes and ball of foot) and ran another 3.6 miles.  Before today, the farthest I had run barefoot was 1.1 miles.

                         

                        While barefoot, I could immediately feel that I was slightly twisting my feet on lift-off.  That was the cause of the blisters I was getting in VFFs, I just couldn't feel that twist while wearing shoes.

                         

                        Josh, I have a feeling you're right.  That's why I'm trying barefoot now.  My ITBS problems typically only crop up after about 8 miles (in shoes), so I won't know for certain whether barefoot and/or VFFs are doing the trick until I can get my mileage up.  Unfortunately, 8 miles barefoot is still at least a few months in the future for me.

                         

                        The downside to my barefoot/VFF running is that I have hardly challenged my cardiovascular system in the past week.  This transition requires an incredible amount of patience!

                         

                        Thanks, everyone for your advice!

                          The cardio comes back. And you might surprise yourself - 8 miles barefoot might come sooner than you think. While you want to be mentally prepared for a slow, gradual build up, you might have a eureka moment that can speed up the process. Progress, like terrain, is rarely smooth and even.