Not new to VFF's, but new knee and leg pains

Discussion in 'Ask the Docs' started by CocoNut, Jul 28, 2011.

  1. CocoNut

    CocoNut Barefooters

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    I've been generally fortunate in that I've had very few running injury issues. A bout of tendonitis and some ITB troubles and that's it. During the past three weeks I have run exclusively in my VFF's and am now experiencing some pains in my knees, achilles tendon, shins and just my feet in general. Here's my background:

    About one-and-a-half years ago I discovered the "concept" of barefoot running and bought my first pair of VFF's. Then someone gave me the book Chi Running which I've been using to develop proper form. I can only judge how I've been doing by how it feels to me and from some bad mirror angles at the gym, but it seems like I have learned to mostly do this well. The one thing I probably am worst at is the pelvic tilt.

    Last winter, following a Turkey Trot in the VFF's on frozen ground that made my feet hurt, I looked into some minimalist shoes and bought the Saucony Kinvara. Love it! I developed a pattern of running in my VFF's for my midweek training runs on the treadmill (usually about 4 miles each, twice a week) and using the Kinvaras for my weekend LSR outdoors. This system has worked just fine and I ran my first half marathon (in the Kinvaras) in April and then another one about six weeks later.

    So, a few weeks ago I decided that since I am no longer training for any more races this year, there was no reason that I shouldn't use my VFF's outside again. My last run in the Kinvaras was actually a "faux half marathon" on July 2 at 13.16 miles. Since then I've done my usual two treadmill runs plus a 6-miler on 7/10, 10-miler on 7/17 and 8-miles on 7/27 (yesterday). All in VFFs.

    Following each LSR, my knees are sore, my shins are slightly sore and yesterday was the first time with some tenderness in the achilles tendon. These symptoms are all helped by using a roller massage on my calves (which also feel tight, but that's not new).

    I don't run with an iPod because I'm REALLY trying to focus on my form which is why I "feel" that I'm mostly getting it right. This has become a frustration since I LOVE running in the VFF's.

    I think I may have an idea as to what part of my problem is and will be curious to see if it matches any responses from the resident docs.

    Thanks for your time and consideration!
     
  2. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ Administrator
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    Here's the deal.  The

    Here's the deal. The Kinvaras are not a minimalist shoe. They have a high heel, lots of padding, and are quite thick. When we wear shoes with heels (of any height), our connective tissues (calves to Achilles to plantar fascia) shrink by the same amount in length of the heel we wear. For example, if the heel is 1-1/2", then your connective tissue has shrunk by 1-1/2". When you make a move to something with a zero-drop, in esscence, you are stretching out your connective tissues by 1-1/2". This is not something you want to do overnight, meaning, it takes time to do it right. You only want to run in the VFFs (or anything else with a zero-drop) for a short distance and at a slow pace. Since your calves are already very tight, try only running for 1/4 of a mile in the VFFs each time you do run in them for about two weeks. It may even be best for you to take a day off in between. After that, increase by a 1/4 of a mile per run for the next two weeks. Then try increasing by 1/2 a mile for two weeks, and so forth.

    Some of us still have issues when trying to transition from traditional footwear to minfootwear, some of the same issues you talk about, that is shins, knees, etc. It's very possible that the minfootwear is enabling you to run harder than you would, say if you were barefoot, and it's possible the minfootwear is enabling you to run with poor form than you would, say if you were barefoot.

    If you still experience trouble after easing into minimal running, then consider shedding the shoes altogether. It's very possible that you could be having a form issue from wearing minfootwear, and the minfootwear is preventing you from realizing this. It's not to say you can't get back to some minfootwear; it's just that you want to get a good form down first, one where you are not experiencing pain and injury, then reintroduce the footwear (hopefully only when needed). By the time you do reintroduce the minfootwear, you should have a good feel for what your proper form is.

    I am a barefoot runner. Whenever I run in something minimal, I heel strike. Lots of people can make the transition from traditional footwear to minfootwear and have no problems. Lots of other people can't. I'm one of them. For whatever reason, I still heel strike, even with something as minimal as a pair of cotton socks, go figure. My heel striking in minfootwear hasn't caused me any injuries though, so running barefoot must have allowed me to develop a good enough form to keep me from getting injured. Bottom line, in order to run my best, I have to run barefoot.
     
  3. stomper

    stomper Guest

    CocoNut, what you're

    CocoNut, what you're describing here is a syndrome we've frequently noted on this bulletin board. A lot of people who wear minimal shoes love the way they feel, but still get hurt somehow. Meanwhile this doesn't seem to happen so much to people who go truly BF.

    Of course (as diehard barefooters) a lot of us will automatically blame shoes, even VFFs, but there has been some interesting evidence lately that suggests that the trend we've been observing anecdotally has an actual behavioral basis. If you take a look at the full text for this paper: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/19424280.2010.542187 -- you will see that the test subjects continue to heel strike even in very minimal shoes. Only going truly BF makes them stop.

    Of course you may not be heel striking, but it's still possible the shoes are allowing you to go too hard in some other way. I very much doubt you could go that hard if you were truly BF. Your skin will limit you before the rest of your body gets too banged up. I suggest going BF for a while, though it probably means cutting mileage way way back. When you figure out how to run without getting the injuries you're describing, then you can put the shoes back on and see if your steps are light enough to keep you from getting hurt.

    I'm sure if you went to some other site, someone would have other possible solutions to the problem. But hey, this is the BRS!

    Good luck!

    ps. going BF is fun
     
  4. CocoNut

    CocoNut Barefooters

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    I understand that on this

    I understand that on this forum the Kinvara is not considered minimalist. What I should have said was that I went looking for a shoe that was less than my Nike Air, but more than the VFF. While the Kinvara does have good padding, it has a rather low heel-to-toe drop of only 4mm and as a running shoe, it does fall into the minimalist category.

    Having already built up my distance in the VFF's gradually over the past year, going back to 1/4 mile runs doesn't make sense to me, TJ. This is not something I recently jumped into; as stated, I began this journey about 18 months ago and it was only the winter weather that sent me in search of a bit more shoe than the VFF provided. It is just recently that I decided to start taking my VFF's outdoors again and parking the Kinvaras.

    I definitley do not heel strike, but as you say Stomper, there has to be something that I'm doing differently between the treadmill runs and the outdoor runs.

    I want to try running barefoot. I think what has kept me from doing so is that I don't know if it's sustainable for me. At most I only run outdoors once a week. And at my job I'm required to wear specific footwear with non-slip soles. Definitely NOT minimalist! LOL! After all the miles in the VFFs, my feet are quite strong, but my bare soles are still pretty tender. But the desire is strong, which is why I am here.

    Hoping to hear a reply from the docs soon. *oops! Still finding my way around here, and just realized the docs no longer monitor this forum. Guess I'll keep working on the problem.*
     
  5. dunetraveller

    dunetraveller Barefooters
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    CocoNut wrote:Still finding

    That's not true. They just have a lot going on between work and other things. They do make at least a visit once a week from what I see. They also do not reply to any issues they see have already been adequately answered by others from my observations. Which is not to say they won't be here later today, and won't respond here, just that we have to be patient for the free professional medical advice they volunteer to give.

    *edit: Dr. Mark a.k.a. "Naked Doc" posted to a thread on the 24th, so he was at least here to respond to posts within the last week and ought to be through here again soon. Patience.*

    John T.
     

  6. migangelo

    migangelo Chapter Presidents
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    i'm looking at your avatar

    i'm looking at your avatar and i see a heel strike. i believe that is what causes a shin splint. i don't heel strike when i run but do walking in my work shoes and have some pain in my left shin. it doesn't have me sidelined but i do notice it.

    your running in highly cushioned shoes and it looks like your landing is nearly flat, but that is only one pic. i hate to say it because i didn't want to believe it either but going bf is the best way to learn good form. you don't have to give up your miles but carry your shoes and put them on when you want and continue to run.



    good luck,



    Mike
     

  7. migangelo

    migangelo Chapter Presidents
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    i'm looking at your avatar

    i'm looking at your avatar and i see a heel strike. i believe that is what causes a shin splint. i don't heel strike when i run but do walking in my work shoes and have some pain in my left shin. it doesn't have me sidelined but i do notice it.

    your running in highly cushioned shoes and it looks like your landing is nearly flat, but that is only one pic. i hate to say it because i didn't want to believe it either but going bf is the best way to learn good form. you don't have to give up your miles but carry your shoes and put them on when you want and continue to run.



    good luck,



    Mike
     

  8. shock.absorber

    shock.absorber Barefooters

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    To the OP - Likely you have a

    To the OP - Likely you have a diffrent running gait for each shoe you run in. The two shoes you mentioned have very diffrent characteristics. It is highly likely you are running too many miles in your VFF. You may not be new to using them, but you need to retrain your body. I know this is not the answer you are looking for, but you need to reduce your mileage in the VFF. Start slow, and work your way back up. Starting slowly will also be a test if the pains continue. Throw your womanly ego aside, and start more slowly in VFF, try BF at a even slower rate. Or go back to what you call min shoes which are not really. The ego, or stubbornness has you moving too quickly.......
     
  9. CocoNut

    CocoNut Barefooters

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    Thanks, dunetraveller!  I

    Thanks, dunetraveller! I guess I was confused by what it said in the "Injuries and Medical Conditions" forum.

    Mike, I see the apparent heel strike in my avatar as well. But one thing I've learned is that a runners form cannot be accurately assessed by a single still photo. If I were heel striking I don't think these issues would have suddenly appeared after so many months.

    @shock.absorber~ I agree about the mileage in the VFF's and as I've been mulling this over, I think my problems occured because of the sudden increase of adding my LSR's to my weekly VFF mileage. That's the only thing that really changed in my routine. I'll take your advice and back off, as much as my so-called "womanly ego" hates to. But I'm not training for any long races right now, so this is the time to do it!

    Thank you all for taking time to respond!
     
  10. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ Administrator
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    At least you'll take

    At least you'll take someone's advice to back off, if not mine, Shock's.

    The Kinvaras are not Minimalist Running Shoes (MRS). Not at all. If we were to classify them, and there is no set standard, yet, those shoes would fall in the Reduced Running Shoe (RRS) category, along with the Nike Frees, but I cringe at that notion as well.

    Good luck, Coco. Take it easy, and you'll do just fine.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. CocoNut

    CocoNut Barefooters

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    Thanks for the encouragement,

    Thanks for the encouragement, TJ! That's the first time I've even heard of a Reduced Running Shoe, so I'm obviously out of the loop. Sorry if I offended you by my response to your first post. It just seemed that cutting back to 1/4 mile runs was overkill. But your post definitely got me concentrating on the mileage issue overall. It finally dawned on me that even though my running mileage hadn't increased, my VFF mileage had increased drastically - from 8 miles per week, to up to twice that! Does this sound to you like a reasonable conjecture as to a possible cause of my issues?
     
  12. Dr. Mark

    Dr. Mark Barefooters
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     Check out how we classify

    Check out how we classify shoes



    http://naturalrunningcenter.com/



    and this thread



    http://naturalrunningcenter.com/2011/07/23/abcs-minimalism-reply-jeff-galloways-views-running-injury/



    on the knee and other pains it is really tough to assess. A good running doc does not treat symptoms, but rather the imbalances and other causative features.



    On shoe principles…firmer is better. Too soft and you cannot stabilize quickly on landing. VFF is firmer landing. Yes barefoot is the firmest and most stable landing so good practice.



    Do a lot of the single leg stance balance drills…this helps in a huge way.



    Mark
     
  13. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ Administrator
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    This is the way I see it.  If

    This is the way I see it. If you are going to match footwear to seasons, meaning wearing the Kinvaras when it's colder and the VFFs when it's warmer, you are going to have to "transition" each time you are ready to change up your footwear. Months pass with each season and just when you finally have a good form down and your connective tissues are at their fullest length or shortest length, you make a drastic switch, from high heels to zero drop or back again, depending. I know you feel like you could run and run and run, but your musculoskeletal system isn't ready yet, especially if you are switching back into zero drop. That's when it becomes the most tricky. That's when you really want to step back and focus on taking it slow. If you don't, you risk plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, and a host of other possible injuries. This is why we always recommend that when you are transitioning down to zero drop anything, you first learn (or relearn) how to run with your bare skin, since collectively, through our experiences, we have found that our plantar skin develops at about the same rate as our musculoskeletal system. Our plantar skin prevents us from going too far too soon too fast. You can't go wrong by feeling the run.

    Hope this helps.
     
  14. dunetraveller

    dunetraveller Barefooters
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    I can honestly say that when

    I can honestly say that when I started this I could feel every rock and raised portion of the ground when I first started wearing VFFs, and it felt uncomfortable then. Now I walk over rocks, gravel, those metal grates with the circular nubs, like it's nothing. It's not so much I feel less sensation, but it just isn't as new a sensation and my mind is "used to it".

    Even barefoot, what used to make me cringe is more comfortable, but is again more of a mental issue. Once I realized what is going to cause injury versus what "feels' like it might (but won't), I mentally adjusted. With experience, my mind automatically picks object free routes for my feet without me realizing it until thinking about it later, kind of like driving and avoiding things. Even barefoot in low moonlight on the way to the community mailbox, there must be hundreds of tiny rock bits to step on, but without trying, I find I very often miss them all, or at most find one to step on. My body already knows how to unload weight from any part of my foot and it just becomes a slight discomfort or annoyance.

    With vigilance, barefooting is not a worry for me. I don't fear injury to my feet. In fact, the opposite: even as often as I go barefoot, I place this fear in the same category as getting hit by lightning, or a meteor. It's just not something I experience (aside from blisters which have happened equally bf and in shoes). I do get concerned about feeling discomfort from stepping on a bit of rock; but again, it's something that isn't likely to be injury causing in my experience, so I don't let it stop me. I'm not foolhardy, or think myself invulnerable, but I pay attention to what I'm doing and where I'm going and that will keep me safe.

    Of course I didn't know things would be this way when I started, and I was somewhat afraid then; however, I was willing to risk it for the rewards experienced by others who post on the site. I'm glad I did, as there is nothing like it.

    John T.
     

  15. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ Administrator
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    Exactly, DT.  It's not so

    Exactly, DT. It's not so much that your body has adapted to the sensations, it's more that your mind has.
     
  16. Dr. Mark

    Dr. Mark Barefooters
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    Coco, sounds like you are

    Coco,



    sounds like you are doing a lot of really good things by your form focuses and using VFF to dial in the good form. add some true barefoot.

    cannot say if there is a shoe issue or not...pretty complex, esp on the net to have a clue.

    we categorize shoes on our site

    http://naturalrunningcenter.com/naturalrunningcenter-shoereviews/

    the one thing about softer shoes is that they make you do concentric muscle work (muscles shorten on contraction) on toe off vs recoil and eccentric (muscles lenghten) which is the barefoot/VFF pattern. so it is different. which is better? who knows. individual choice.



    Mark
     
  17. migangelo

    migangelo Chapter Presidents
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    Coco, I just reread your

    Coco,



    I just reread your post. My left leg is tight on me all the time now. When i started running my PF went away. I was wearing kso to work then my boss said no more. I bought some driving mocs and the pf came back. Since then my calf got tight while running. Now it's tight along with my quads and some IT band irritation.

    When i run i land with my left foot landing fairly flat to protect my pf. It has caused a lot of this leg pain i'm sure. It has to stem from a hip injury from a few years ago. Our muscles are all connected by the fascia and there isn't real seperation between them like a model shows.

    Why all the background? I use to run pain free, now i don't. I can adjust my form so i can run pain free but it comes back when i'm done. It started in the winter after i had to wear shoes to work. I remember on another forum a few people complaining about the same thing happening. It appears that old injuries come back one after another. First causing pain until they get strong. Then the next old injury comes back until it gets strong.

    Do you have any old injury possibly causing this pain or other weakness?

    I do single leg lifts and bends to strengthen my ankles nearly everyday. I also started doing pilates and i can feel it working on my hips. I plan to see a massuese to see if he can help me or if he'll refer me to someone else.

    This is going to be a bit of journey for me to fix but i know i'll do it. Good luck to you. I'm inpatiently waiting to run again and i have to start slowly.



    Mike
     

  18. JosephTree

    JosephTree Barefooters
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    I don't have a thing to offer

    I don't have a thing to offer on the shoes / injury /BF topic that hasn't already been said better than I could have. What I can do is state definitively and without any fear of contradiction, Migangelo, is that your masseuse isn't a "he."

    Masseuse = woman

    Masseur = man

    Massage therapist = punt
     

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