She that goes barefoot....
June 24, 2012 7:56 PM   Subscribe

Minimalist Running Filter: How likely is it that I can get back into minimalist running again after minor injury? Details inside.

I started running in Vibram KSO's about 1.5 years ago on a treadmill (1.5 incline) at the gym. I didn't really break them in, I just went for it. This was fairly minimal - 3-4x/week and only 2-3 miles at a time. I never experienced any pain or injury during this time.

Cut. I didn't run for 2 months due to a hectic move to another city. Once settled in our new digs, I picked it back up again and ran 2-3.5 miles about 3x/week for a few weeks, then hurt my foot. I suspected that it was because we moved to another city and were able to run outside (yay!) but were also running about 1/2 the distance on concrete/asphalt. I met the criteria for stress fracture but X-ray revealed nothing, so my GP dx'd it as a ligament injury. I've been off it for 6 weeks and experienced pain for the first 4 weeks (walking around but no running). I'd like to get back into minimalist running again, but this time I plan to proceed according to this plan. I also would like to move away from the KSO's and onto Vibram's that are more specific to running. Like the Bikila's or the Spyder Trek Sole.

I'm looking for fellow MeFite's who have been injured due to diving in to the Minimalist craze, and what were your experiences in getting back into it? How long did it take?

If it matters, I'm very petite and lightweight, and pretty light on my feet. I'm not a heel striker, if anything I run on my the balls of my feet too much.
posted by luciddream928 to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I actually had something very similar happen to me. I was attempting to increase the mileage in KSOs past 3 miles, and I tweaked something in my ankle. I never got it fully checked out, but rest seemed to help until I tried to break past 3 miles. It just wouldn't work.

What did work was moving back to a shoe, but minimalist. I got some Brooks Pure Connects, and they have been a dream. The benefit here was that it took almost NO time to get back to the milage that I was used to. I've had to use compression tape on the ankle for 1/2 marathons and up, but other than that, there's been no side effects. I have the KSOs still, and I've considered trying to supplement my running with them, but I get queasy thinking I could injure my ankle again.

This probably isn't the answer you're looking for, but it did work for me and got me back to running quickly.
posted by neveroddoreven at 8:02 PM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I haven't been able to get back into barefoot running in minimal shoes since getting hurt, but I also suffered a more severe non-running injury than you (nearly ruptured a tendon) that had a pretty big impact on my running. I was running around 20 miles/week in my Vibram Sprints before I got hurt.

I ended up doing the same thing as neveroddoreven. I'm currently running in Altra Intuitions which have the zero drop heel that mimics a barefoot minimal shoe, but also has more padding and support. They're amazing and incredibly comfortable to the point that I'm not sure if I even want to even try the transition back to my Sprints. I'm pretty content using the Altras as my running shoes and my Vibram Sprints something akin to flip flops.
posted by astapasta24 at 8:26 PM on June 24, 2012

I don't know whether you should or shouldn't, but if you do it would be good to make sure you're doing it with good form. Vivo Barefoot shoes have an online barefoot running training clinic with some very good information, including a free downloadable PDF book. My husband and I found the videos they have up very helpful.
posted by Lexica at 8:31 PM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

I am currently recovering from a shin splint very low down on my tibia, apparently from over-fatiguing my toe extensors. It happened about six weeks into my switch to minimalist shoes and seems pretty clearly related. As well as treating the injury, my physio has given me a number of exercises and stretches aimed specifically at strengthening and conditioning my legs for minimalist running and I am slowly returning to the treadmill.

So based on personal experience, I don't see why you shouldn't be able to get back into it. What's important is that you understand the causes of your injury and you take appropriate steps to prevent it from reoccurring. Ease back into it very gradually, running only short periods and concentrating on your technique over distance or speed (read up about the pose method).

If you are in any doubt, I would definitely recommend seeking the advice of a sports therapist; preferably one who is sympathetic to the minimalist movement.
posted by londonmark at 1:16 AM on June 25, 2012

I'm 3 months into it, and my main problem is a sore back/neck and achilles tendons. I'm assuming there's still a lot of stretching going on all up and down my back. I've had no real foot pain, and in fact they seem to have really helped some persistent pain I was having in my feet.

Until yesterday, which was the first time I tried to run more than about a half mile on pavement. Today I *hurt*. IMO, any plan you follow should keep you off pavement for a good long while. Lots of people carry a set of shoes to switch to mid-run, or you could even just walk the distance.

Humans didn't evolve to run in shoes, but they *really* didn't evolve to run barefoot on concrete. I was a little surprised how much difference there was between running on the road and on hard packed dirt trails.
posted by pjaust at 6:12 AM on June 25, 2012

Everyone, thank you so much for your responses! All have been helpful - hence all the "best answers." It's encouraging to know that others have recouperated from minor injuries and gotten back into it. Also the suggestions for minimalist shoes are really helpful. Most of my confusion is the TONS of misinformation that's out there about minimalist running - I don't know where to go for good research-based info to do it safely. I'll certainly try the online clinic that Lexica recommends, and the Brooks or Alta shoe recommendations as well.

@pjaust - "Humans didn't evolve to run in shoes, but they *really* didn't evolve to run barefoot on concrete. I was a little surprised how much difference there was between running on the road and on hard packed dirt trails." How true! I definitely underestimated that point. On a related note, I saw some exercises online that ballerinas do to strengthen their calves & feet - I tried them and they are intense but I guess that means they work. The link is here.
posted by luciddream928 at 9:52 AM on June 25, 2012

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