Long story short, I sprained my MCL in a freak jello wrestling accident this weekend. (Don't worry, it was unsweetened and I didn't eat any of the jello.) I've been considering purchasing a pair of VFFs (or a similar minimal shoe), and I was a little concerned about how the adjustment/transition would affect my training. Since I'm looking at a few weeks of physical therapy to retrain how I use my lower body, would this be a smart time to introduce new footwear as well? Or would I be better off finishing PT first, and looking at new shoes after I'm walking normally again?
More info: I'm a terrible heel pounder. The wear on the outsides of my shoes shows major supination. I've got issues with my shins and lower back that I was hoping I could alleviate by walking/sprinting smarter. Not sure if any of this contributed to the injury, but if I could make all the adjustments as part of the same process, that'd be pretty great.
asked bykatesonskates (380)
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on June 30, 2011
at 07:08 PM
I'd say go for it. An integral part of any rehab strategy nowadays is improving proprioception, your body's ability to determine the relative position of joints in space and in relation to each other. Thick soled shoes inhibit proprioception, which is why many people who switch to minimalist shoes experience less rolled ankles and the like.
When joints are damaged, one of the things that is lost is proprioception and many training protocols incorporate proprioceptive training during the therapy sessions (which is why wobble boards et al are so popular). The interesting thing is that they are finding that this should be done very soon in the treatment plan. So, just wearing minimalist shoes period is going to speed up your recovery by encouraging your proprioceptive machinery to work. Of course, the best thing is to go barefoot as much as possible.
There may be certain instances during the therapy where VFs may be contraindicated, but wearing minimalist shoes when you're not training can only help you along (and in the long run, prevent you from experiencing lower extremity problems in the future). See what your therapist says.
As for long term, CraftyCrofts is right. Barefoot is BEST, for sure. I ONLY run barefoot on the beach or on grass, myself. I'll wear my VFs if I hit a trail in the woods or on wooden stairs to protect me from rocks, sticks, etc. Either way, best of luck on your rehab!
on June 30, 2011
at 06:46 PM
I'd go with cheap $8 water shoes from Walmart if I were you, and take out the insoles. I've amassed quite a collection of minimalist shoes and I think that they get the job done best without possibly affecting other things. For example, my VFF's don't get along with my toes on runs. They are fine for walking around but my toes evidently like to move laterally more than the VFF's allow.
There are plenty of other people who VFfs don't work for, especially if your 2nd or 3rd toe is longer than your big toe (not my case). As much as I love Huaraches, they are a pain to get tied right and adjusted, and you don't sound like you're in a position to go go go enough in them to get them perfect right out of the starting line.
Water Shoes aren't a big investment and fit immediately while being zero-drop (heel and toe on the same level), no arch support and have TONS of toe room.
As for timing, before or after phys therapy, it might depend on your where your Phys Therapist stands on them. My hubby had to educate his Phys Ther and then they were cool with him wearing his VFf's while getting treated for an Achilles problem.
You could make use of your downtime to read up on Pose running so that even if you don't become a dedicated Pose runner, you'll know enough to have great barefoot running form and get rid of those nasty shin splints and heel pounding.
The fastest way to learn how to run bare is to RUN BARE, totally bare. Shoes of any kind lie to you and let you pound harder no matter what. Running bare is WAY EASIER than walking bare, so if you can't run during your recovery then wait till you're allowed to run again to go BARE. Listen to your feet, listen to your body and you'll be in love with running (again) in no time!!