Five fingers, pain and podiatry?

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Five fingers, pain and podiatry?

Postby mangomagic » Wed May 18, 2011 1:34 pm

It's been about 10 days since my first fun run, it was only 4k, but after the run I then did the 4k walk plus a bit of extra walking. I did the walking/running in my five fingers shoes and all seemed fine. I haven't ran since then but a few days ago (1 week after the run) started to get a fair bit of ankle and foot pain particuarly in my left foot. It was so bad that I could barely walk. I went to see a podiatrist who said that I have the flattest feet that he has seen in a long time and recommended orthotics. He also said that he is suprised that it has taken me so long to have any issues and asked if I have gotten new shoes/been doing new sport etc to bring on pain so suddenly. The only thing I can think of is the five fingers. He said that they were quite bad but he obviously profits from orthotics, so I asked another podiatrist who I work is and she agreed that they are horrible and put too much pressure on your feet. It looks like they are not alone too: http://podiatric.blogspot.com/2010/12/vibram-fivefingers.html What are your thoughts? I did find that they helped with previous knee pain caused from running but am just really confused now.
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Re: Five fingers, pain and podiatry?

Postby DC Runner » Wed May 18, 2011 3:47 pm

I think almost all podiatrists will tell you to get orthotics. That's their solution for everything. I would recommend seeing someone that specializes in sports medicine or someone that actually runs.

I'm just going to say it. I hate the vibram five finger shoes with a passion. I think they are a fad shoe that is causing a ton of injuries. One thing to consider is how long you've been running in the VFFs and how long you've been running beforehand. I think the transition process should be very, very gradual. That's not to say that one can't transition quickly without injury. You've most-likely been walking and running in heavily-padded shoes for your entire life. These shoes even change the shape of our feet.

To transition to a barefoot style running shoe will require using different muscles. If you don't have an efficient running form, switching to a minimalist shoe will only amplify any effects. Many heel strikers will have knee pain, as your leg is at full-extension when contact is made. This puts lots of strain on the knee. You can't land on your heel in VFFs because it hurts like hell. So you're probably mid-foot striking, putting more strain on your ankle. I would recommend transitioning very slowly to a minimalist shoe first (maybe not a zero-drop shoe) - focusing on form, and then transitioning to the VFFs.

For what it's worth, I have extremely flat feet too. I used to train in motion control shoes and switched to a stability shoe (Saucony Omni). I got my first lightweight trainer about four years ago (Saucony Fastwitch) and used them twice a week for speedwork and tempo runs. Once I got more efficient and my legs were used to using different muscles, I increased the frequency of runs in the lightweight trainers. I waited at least a year before doing this. I gradually phased-out the stability shoe and now run only in the lightweight trainers. Before the transition, I could only max out at 60 miles per week without injury. I have since safely reached 117 miles in a week during marathon training (my average is usually 95-105 during peak training). Just sayin'!
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Re: Five fingers, pain and podiatry?

Postby ultra_whippet » Wed May 18, 2011 7:45 pm

I totally agree with DC Runner, both with regards to podiatrists and the Five Fingers :)

An experienced sports physio or therapist is your best bet. There are loads of things that can contribute to flat feet, such as PTTD (google it), weak foot muscles and a forward-tilted pelvis, but it really requires a proper examination to see what the root cause of the problem is. A decent therapist should check out your whole kinetic chain, if they only look at your feet then don't bother with them.
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Re: Five fingers, pain and podiatry?

Postby KjKranz » Thu May 19, 2011 3:27 pm

I have low arches and have done my last 3100 miles in Vibrams.

The idea with flat feet and needing orthotics goes like this:

"Foot characteristics: This imprint usually indicates an overpronated foot that strikes on the outside of the heel and rolls inward excessively. Over time, this can cause many different kinds of overuse injuries. Runners with flat feet often need motion-control or stability shoes."

But is it the same when you do not heel strike? Well I really doubt it, but cannot find much information on that scenario.

I have had problems with my right ankle, but I believe it is from too many miles on a 9 lap per mile track that I never should have ran on in the first place.
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Re: Five fingers, pain and podiatry?

Postby KjKranz » Thu May 19, 2011 3:31 pm

ultra_whippet wrote:I totally agree with DC Runner, both with regards to podiatrists and the Five Fingers :)

An experienced sports physio or therapist is your best bet. There are loads of things that can contribute to flat feet, such as PTTD (google it), weak foot muscles and a forward-tilted pelvis, but it really requires a proper examination to see what the root cause of the problem is. A decent therapist should check out your whole kinetic chain, if they only look at your feet then don't bother with them.


I recently visited a chiropractor for some acupuncture and he looked at my feet and low arches as well. Instantly recommended orthotics. I declined. As with disease, sickness, health, and nutrition, I'm more inclined to solve the root of the problem instead of paying someone to give me a pill.
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Re: Five fingers, pain and podiatry?

Postby mangomagic » Fri May 20, 2011 10:13 am

Thanks for all of your replies. I've noticed on chi running type videos etc that they all run with proper runners and am thinking I might get a proper pair when I'm in the US.
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