I've been running in minimalistic shoes - 5 Fingers and Vivobarefoot - for a few months now, but still feel tenderness under my feet at the landing zone. Depending on the distance, it sometimes actually feels bruised. Is it normal to still feel tenderness?

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Comment by Victor Vouga on September 27, 2013 at 9:06am

My transition to zero drops took me several months and I still get some foot tenderness after long runs.  I alternate between the New Balance MR00, the New Balance Hi-Rez (very intense "barefoot" shoe), Merrell Road Glove and the Innov8 Bare-X 150 for my road runs. For trails I use the Merrell Trail Glove and the New Balance MT1010 (4 mm drop)... the slant board routines have been a huge help in eliminating foot pain... like everyone has said, you just have to be patient... I wasn't and gave myself a nice round of stress fractures... not fun.

Comment by Sindy-ann on September 4, 2013 at 9:43am

Thanks guys! Makes a lot of sense.

Comment by Mark Houston on September 3, 2013 at 1:45pm

I second Eric's suggestions. My first year after re-learning how to run -- and to do it properly -- I had very similar foot tenderness with completely minimal shoes. There are some really great shoes in the zero (e.g., Altra's Lone Peak) to 4mm drop range (e.g., Brooks Pure Grit 2 -- my favorite; Saucony Perigrine -- my wife's favorite) that allow you to run with a very natural foot strike, while providing a bit more protection from the trail. A second important factor, though, is the foot/ankle strength that can be built by working out on the slant board and balance boards described in Eric's book. Working on the boards showed me that I was landing on the ball of the foot and was not engaging the big toe. This improper technique accentuated the impact and the bruised feeling. You can't do the boards without figuring out how to use your big toe.  Bottom line, since you are early in your new journey and are still refining technique and building strength, you may end up buying a pair or two of shoes that are "half-way" between a traditional running shoe and a minimal shoe -- my first year, I ran in an Innov-8 Flyrock 310 (9mm drop) whenever I was on a rocky trail. The second year, my "go-to" shoe for tough trails was the Innov-8 TrailRoc 255 (6mm drop). This year, my third, I can run nearly anything in my 4mm Pure Grits -- as my miles accumulate and my foot/leg strength and big toe engagement improve, I'm finding that I can run comfortably in shoes that are more minimal. Good luck!

Comment by Eric Orton on September 3, 2013 at 10:06am

Hi there - I would use these very minimal shoes as a strength tool 1-3 times per week and find a zero drop shoe with more protection for your longer and/or faster runs.  Or, if you really want to stick to these shoes, you might have to be a little more patient in building your run volume until your feet adjust and acclimate to the lack of protection.

Hope that helps - E

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