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  1. #1

    Default Feet, Ankles, & Knees knowledge from my 2013 hike

    I'm posting this because i was plagued with issues for the first 1000 miles, spent a lot of money trying to figure it out, and analyzed it to death. It probably helps that i'm a big nerd and shoe person.

    I started off with trail runners, eventually moved to some expensive Vasques, and ended the trail with some Five Fingers and Nike Frees.

    The three problems i had were:

    1. Horrible ball of foot pain
    2. Runners knee pain (patella tendon)
    3. Rolling my right ankle

    In an effort to solve the major problem (ball of foot pain) I went into a ton of shoe stores and talked to people. I talked to hikers. I analyzed my stride, foot placement, etc. I spent a lot of time reading about stuff on the internet through my phone when i could. I tried various insoles, metatarsal pads, and a few other things. The only thing that slightly worked were the metatarsal pads. During all of this i did get to talk to one guy that used to make custom foot orthotics. What i finally learned was:

    Unless you're a professional athlete or Olympic track star with custom shoes ... most store shoes are going to offset your bio mechanics.

    What i realized with myself and all these fancy arch/heel support shoes is that they make the problem worse. What's the point in buying metatarsal pads to fix a problem caused by the shoe in the first place? What was happening with me was:

    1. Padding in the heels offsets my foot causing excess force to the ball of my foot.
    2. Stiff soles serve to disengage the toes which means the ball of the foot is the last point of force as your foot rolls through.
    3. Both of these factors put stress on the patella tendon in my knee.

    This was my theory and proved to be true after i got a pair of Five Fingers and Nike Free's. I chose to wear the vibrams on a 20 mile day through the Pennsylvania Rocks (before Duncannon i believe). They worked way better than i expected. My foot would conform to all the rocks i was stepping on. I could stand on rocks that people with normal shoes couldn't. My ankles flexed properly, my toes worked, and i had no ball of foot pain. The only downside to them is that they are horrible for walking on concrete after a long day - instant foot pain.

    Next i tried the Nike Free's. These shoes were fantastic except for one thing: ankle rolling. The soles are really flexible, the rubber on them is freakishly grippy even in the rain, they are super comfortable, and they worked well on concrete too. However, the material the makes up the top of the shoe is so flexible that it allows your foot to slip of the soles exacerbating ankle rolling.

    But hey... between the two shoes ... all my problems were fixed instantly. The commonalities between both shoe are:

    1. Flexible soles
    2. Minimal sole thickness
    3. Lightweight
    4. Good grip

    My ideal shoe would be something as flexible as a Nike Free, fits like a vibram, but also has ankle support. Haven't found that yet though.

  2. #2

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    Thanks for posting. I've worn several styles of Vibrams for years (uglier than Crocs) in desert mountain marathons, flat trails, rocky trails, concrete (the Spryidons) etc. Prior to that I wore 'prescription' shoes and orthotics for many years, but the pain, swelling, blisters and hot spots increased. I am NoBo in April and haven't found anything to replace them on the trail (the last outfitter recommended a high top, stiff soled GoreTex boot.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by None yet View Post
    Thanks for posting. I've worn several styles of Vibrams for years (uglier than Crocs) in desert mountain marathons, flat trails, rocky trails, concrete (the Spryidons) etc. Prior to that I wore 'prescription' shoes and orthotics for many years, but the pain, swelling, blisters and hot spots increased. I am NoBo in April and haven't found anything to replace them on the trail (the last outfitter recommended a high top, stiff soled GoreTex boot.
    I would be curious how a good pair of moccasins would do on the trail.

    G8Boots.jpg

  4. #4
    Registered User minda's Avatar
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    I've done some hiking wearing my Merrell barefoot trail gloves & loved it. I've considered wearing them on the trail, but I worry how they would hold up. I never have knee pain when I wear them hiking - unlike my other shoes.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by faxanadu View Post
    I would be curious how a good pair of moccasins would do on the trail.

    G8Boots.jpg
    Zero traction - you'll fall down a lot on anything slippery, like mud and wet rocks.
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