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Don’t knock it before you try it!

1 Aug

I like to try new things, but sometimes I’m stubborn and resistant….so when I saw the Vibrams Five Finger shoes, I said “Not for me”. I’ve had a whole host of foot/ankle/calf/knee issues that led me on the path to consult with multiple doctors (4 to be exact) and 3 physical therapists. The docs and the PT’s mean well; they prescribe what they are taught. I ended up in orthotics and motion control shoes, aka big heavy rocks that limited any foot/ankle motion. Per one PT, I altered how I ran from “toe running” to heal striking. The pain only got worse. I was told everything from I should never run to I will need surgery. It wasn’t until I met the 4th doctor, a runner himself, that I discovered the wonderful practice of Active Release Therapy (ART). It was tremendously helpful, yet I still suffered pain on my foot/ankle/calf/knee if I ran too much. The doc stopped short of telling me that maybe the shoes and orthotics were causing more harm than good for me. That’s when I discovered CrossFit Endurance and the POSE running method.

I attended the CFE course for educational purposes, not to solve my foot/ankle/calf/knees issues. I learned that I was running all wrong, from wearing the wrong shoes to running using the wrong form. Since I didn’t have a lot of running under my belt, switching to the form they suggested was an easy transition for me…oh yeah, they asked me to run barefoot too (back to my natural running form). So, I buy Vibrams…found an excellent price on them. Every time I take them off, my foot/ankle/calf/knee feels fantastic. I mean, I’m shocked how the areas suffering past “injury” feel. I’ve gone from sleeping in a splint every night to not needing a splint. I’ve gone from needing the daily assistance of a fancy $300 foot and calf massager, to not needing that piece of machinery. I thought the Vibrams looked retarded in addition to thinking they weren’t for me because they lacked support, a big heel, etc. etc. They never let me heel strike; They force proper running form. My husband is even thinking of getting a pair! I’ve thrown out my orthotics and my old shoes are reserved for mowing and mud races.

This past weekend sealed the deal for me – I participated in a 5 mile adventure race, complete with plenty of mud. I wore my old, clunky, think-heeled, pain-inducing shoes (bad decision, but I was worried that I hadn’t sufficiently broken in my Vibrams yet). 2 days later, I’m still in pain from wearing the old shoes, even though I focused on my running form. The big, heavy, clunky shoes didn’t agree with my ankles and calves and I now have foot pain that I haven’t had since before the CFE course.

Morale of the story, don’t knock something until you try it. While Vibrams may not be for you, it may be that you will lose weight on a lower carb diet, or be able to “exercise your way out of pain” by strengthening weak muscles. We live in an amazing world that affords us the opportunity of trying many different routes to find what works for the individual. The fitness industry is a great example. You may achieve your goals by training under X method, while the same method may not work for another person. Try to be open-minded and “don’t knock it until you try it”.