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Learning to walk in minimalist shoes

Well what a surprise. Here I was feeling like I was getting conditioned with walking barefoot and was all excited to try out the Vivo Dharmas when they came...... Let me back track a bit. The ground I have around here is a mix of packed sand and gravel for the roads. The gravel is not the round kind but rather it is crushed granite pieces. In the hard packed areas this is sort of like walking on nails....dull nails but you get the point. There is also nice grassy areas that pose no challenge and woodland type terrain also nice to walk on. One other issue is that the frost is not out of the ground everywhere. Once the feet get numb on the cold ground those bits of granite are even more of a challenge. So those Dharmas would make working much easier..... Here is the surprise, as soon as I tried walking in the shoes my feet go to ground much differently. Within no time my knees were hurting but why. Well it seems with any foot covering I tend to walk fast, like I always have, hence my heel strikes first. Without shoes I must place my feet so as not to step on something too "uncomfortable" and thus my stride is shorter and I am walking slower.... Did a bunch of reading and this seems to be the normal way of things which means I got some learning to do to walk in minimalist shoes.LOL Hopefully my feet will get tough enough to not need the shoes during the summer but I have to say that so far I find that it is one thing to just stroll around barefoot but quite another to hoist a wheel barrow with a hundred pounds of wet sand and gravel and move that any distance. I feel that the lane ways here do not represent what our feet would ever find in nature for frequent walking, perhaps the occasional patch. SO I'm wondering if anyone has much experience with this kind of service and the amount of time it takes to be able to walk it with discomfort so one can concentrate on the work at hand.


Answers and Replies


I completely agree with your hypothesis. I have found that with shoes of any type, it is easy to land with a heavy heel strike. When barefoot, that doesn't work because it is just too uncomfortable.

Personally, I prefer to land with more of a forefoot strike when walking. Sounds strange, I know, but that is the only way I can walk comfortably on a wide variety of terrain. With footwear on, it is easy for me to be tempted to change my gait, but I continue to make myself forefoot strike. Not everyone agrees with me on this though, as you can see in the comments on my other site here:


It seems that when I put a shoe on the first step is wrong. My brain is still expecting a thick sole so it almost feels like a mis-step off a curb. after a week in my Vivos I can now mostly get that first step done properly. LOL Today was spent moving mattresses out of some cottages loading a truck, back and forth to the shop for tools and some other things that require slow and fast walking. I am getting better at the mid foot landing rolling through and across the balls of the feet.....walking quietly means landing softly but once I am in a hurry the stride lengthens and the heel comes into play and this is not a soft landing... UGG Going downhill is all forefoot for me but I feel sort of awkward in these shoes which may be due to them being a bit large. I know what you mean about the different opinions regarding the act of walking, sure can be confusing for a newbie. I even read something about forefoot walking being less efficient for walking, uses more energy but darn I can't find that now. Regardless I think what matters most is what is comfortable and none damaging. I know that even a few too many hard strikes will affect my knees for hours after. One of my biggest issues right now is how things feel when sitting or sleeping, the first few steps are all tight and tender even 5 weeks in


One of my biggest issues right now is how things feel when sitting or sleeping, the first few steps are all tight and tender even 5 weeks in

That's called plantar fasciitis. It's not surprising, especially if you are used to wearing shoes or using insoles with arch support.

I've seen at least one claim by a sports medicine guy that barefoot walking and running results in a higher incidence of plantar fasciitis; but I've also seen at least one study which attributes a lower incidence of plantar fasciitis barefoot.

If these sensations are new to you, the best thing to do would be to see your physician ASAP. For most people PF can be relieved by an extended rest period, stretches, massage, arch or heel inserts or a combination thereof. I'll assume you want to avoid arch or heel inserts. Massage and stretches will go a long way, though. Look up the stretches and massage tricks online, or see your regular doc or a sports medicine specialist for a proper diagnosis and help with how to perform the stretches and massage. The sooner you treat it with these techniques the less it will progress and the more likely you'll be able to continue down the barefoot path.

My PF started when I switched from Chaco sandals to trail runners and boots for the winter. I went from sandals with zero or near zero drop, arch support, and thick and firm polyurethane midsole to shoes with a large drop, no arch support, and the usual squishy EVA midsole.

It took me many months before I figured out it was PF during an unrelated doctor's appointment. I just thought it was bruising or tightness that had to be loosened up a bit. A sign of aging, or something. Massage and stretches have helped quite a bit, and things have improved- but I've still not figured out what my long term solution will be.


Yes I guess this would be a mild case of PF. Years ago when I had to wear construction boots and was on concrete all day I developed a very bad case of PF. for the first 15 minutes in the morning I could barely walk and then it got be that after a couple of hours at work I was in sever pain. Thankfully this is no where near as bad. Just a slight tightness that is gone in the first two steps after sitting for extended periods. Even since the last posting it has become much less.

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