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Vibrams and stress fractures..

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  • Vibrams and stress fractures..

    So... as much as I have loved hiking in my vibrams I think they're the primary cause of all this pain i'm having (right foot, 5th metatarsal towards the cuboid bone). I'm quite sure it developed from stepping on rocks and sorta having my foot "bend" from left to right and leaving my lil pinky toe bone hanging on it's own.

    I had done a bitch of a hike up in Maine about a month ago and had a little pain after that, seemed to not go away even staying off it for a month. Went hiking again this past weekend and I kept it well under control with a few spurts but now it feels all stiff and can be a harsh pain if I move it wrong.

    I wish I just rocked it barefoot my whole life so there wasn't any of these adjusting problems. I'm 21 with a messed up shoulder so it kinda sucks to have my foot out of action now too (though I can do leg workouts). I wanted to hike again in a week, doesn't look like that's gonna happen though.

    Anyone have experience with this same issue? I believe it could also possibly be "cuboid syndrome". What was the healing time/steps you took to better it? I suppose I'm just complaining but it'd be nice if somebody else went through the same thing and could tell me what's up.
    Last edited by Phresh; 10-19-2012, 02:42 AM.

  • #2
    Probably not the answer you wanted... I got a stress fracture from vibram's too. I LOVED them - my running felt so much better in them and my "usual" running pains - piriformis, tight hammies - was totally absent when I wore them. I used them exclusively on trails but I still think I built up too fast. I spent months walking 2-3 miles in them. Then I built up to running about 1 mile in another month. And then jumped right to 4-5 mile runs. Oh well. Mine was in my distal tibia.

    I had been having some moderate pain for a week or so and then stayed off it for a bit. Then did a 4 mile run and had to walk to finish it was so bad. The pain was bad enough the next 3-4 days I walked with a bad limp. After about a week the pain was bearable for walking. By the time I could get into see a doctor and have an MRI and get results I had had it for 2-3 weeks. The doc told me "no exercise for 6 weeks". I applied that as no running (i still walked the dog each morning 2.5 miles) and continuing to do crossfit minus any "explosive" stuff - so no box jumps, no jumping rope, no running. I still did all the weight lifting, pullups, etc. My total altered activity time was about 8 weeks.

    So, moral of the story... get an MRI and make sure it isn't a really bad stress fracture. I think vibrams can also cause fascia/ligament/tendon pain since your foot loads the weight differently than with support shoes - so you might want to rule that out too. If it is minor enough that they don't cast you or something, use pain as your indicator. I did things that I would say caused some discomfort - like a 2-3 on a 10 scale. A few times I inadvertently pushed it too far and I did take the next few days off. If it hurts you are doing too much/the wrong activity. Just don't push through the pain though as you can worsen the fracture. Now might be a nice time to do some biking


    • #3
      I'm not much a biker.. I like actual hiking. I don't think swimming would feel too good either (the up and down of my foot would eeekkk). I don't do anything that causes the pain. Like when I'm hiking I don't actually feel pain but if it gets pushed the wrong direction (which can happen ANY time) that's where it comes.

      Gah i've been to the doc so much lately. I'm 21.. and already out a lot of things for a while. I do get free health care (military). I'll see where the pain takes me and do more research and attempt to punch this thing out on my own though.


      • #4
        Out of curiosity where did you hike in Maine?


        • #5
          South Crocker, near Stratton, was meeting up with my brother. Not particularly interesting but I worked a 9 hr shift, got off at 1 am and drove for 15 hours and then hiked straight uphill for 7 miles and then some to meet up with him. Went to Acadia after though and that was neat.


          • #6
            i've worn my vibrams on a few new england hikes, and i try not to wear them on anything over 4,000 feet anymore. the rocks in the alpine zones are too loose and jagged, unless you're on a really heavily climbed mountain like Washington. i'm always fine going up, but coming down usually leads to a lot of foot pain. mine usually only lasts for a few days, but my feet are sort of conditioned for that.
            if you like minimalist footwear while being on a mountain, i really recommend the merrel trail gloves. the closed toe box makes for a much better, no more toe stubbing hike, and the soles are just firm and thick enough to tackle any rock pile...but they're still light and flexible enough to forget you're wearing shoes.


            • #7
              I haven't been hiking up that way in awhile I need to get back though. Did do a mountain biking trip out to grand falls this spring but I miss the hikes.


              • #8
                In my own experience, people don't generally get stress fractures from one hike. When I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail it usually took about 100 to 300 miles of daily hiking for people to start getting stress fractures bad enough that they couldn't ignore them. My own stress fractures happened between mile 1000 and 1500 on the PCT and were caused by motion control shoes that I bought just before. I had to leave the trail and go home. At home what I did to heal was take slow walks totally barefoot around the neighborhood. It took about 6 weeks before there was no more pain.

                I started researching to figure out what happened to me because at the time I didn't know what it was. I diagnosed myself as having metatarsal stress fractures. I read stuff about how barefoot is better than shoes and ever since then I have only worn flexible shoes. I've never gotten stress fractures again.

                I agree with you that vibrams aren't that good for hiking, though. At least not hard-core hiking. Flat, smooth trails are okay, but long distances and lots of temperature variance and roots and rocks and stuff, they're just not as good as shoes or even sandals.
                Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.


                • #9
                  I want a pair of the trail gloves. I did the Burgess Shale hike this summer, shale scree at 7500 feet. I knew my vffs wouldn't cut it so I wore boots, but I felt clumsy and almost tripped over them several times. The trail gloves look like a nice compromise between protection and flexibility.

                  My one vff break was from slamming my toe into the concrete floor coming down from a set of toes-to-rings at Crossfit. Not really a stress fracture! But I think it's quite possible that you may have some deep bruising and soft tissue damage, which can hurt as much or worse than a break and take a long time to heal.
                  “If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” --Audre Lorde

                  Owly's Journal


                  • #10
                    Heh, I can go down lightning speed with no problems. Going up is the hassle for me. My buddy has those shoes and seems to like them. Stubbing my toes in the vibrams is a constant, and I don't know if my feet can ever "condition" for that.

                    Oh I've hiked about 150 miles with these vibrams (and walked much much more in them of course). It seems like it could be a metatarsal stress fracture but also possibly cuboid syndrome (or something wrong with that particular bone). I'll need to look into it more. The pain definitely feels like a bone pain. Can't wait 'til the day I can do the PCT.

                    I've been thinking maybe my going barefoot style just isn't meant for the tough trails. But I see plenty of people who don't even wear the Vibrams, there's people who've hiked the whole AT completely barefoot. I think if they can why can't I?


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Phresh View Post
                      I've been thinking maybe my going barefoot style just isn't meant for the tough trails. But I see plenty of people who don't even wear the Vibrams, there's people who've hiked the whole AT completely barefoot. I think if they can why can't I?
                      i love hiking barefoot. i certainly get looks from people who spent $200 on a pair of boots to climb something with easy grades and smooth rock. they ask if it hurts...only on gravel, i tell them. give it a try. i'm not sure where you live, but if i had to pick a new england mountain for fun barefooting, it would be monadnock in jaffrey, nh. mostly rock, hardly any gravel or debris.

                      some climbs i can't imagine doing that though. i'm not how familiar you are with the whites in nh, but going up and down mountains like adams or trypyramid completely barefoot could do some damage. i'm sure there are some rough spots along the AT, but those mountains will give you a beating regardless of what's on your feet.


                      • #12
                        In my case, rather than wear Vibrams, I wear sandals. I've made them myself. There are kits out there to make huarache sandals. I don't use the Invisible shoe kits as they are too thin for hiking (great for running in town though). I use Barefoot Ted's thickest Vibram sole material. I hate the whole toe-thong thing so I have my own method of fastening. I stitch together a leather sandal and then stitch the sandal to the sole. I end up with a thin-soled, uncushioned, zero-drop sandal that holds well on my foot without chafing. You can buy almost the same sandal I make from a company called Native Earth.

                        I have found with the thin, uncushioned, zero-drop sole I get all the barefoot benefits without the pain of gravel. Since my feet are not bound inside a sausage casing, they are cool, they can move freely, and my toes aren't hanging out there ready to have vines get stuck between them or be stubbed. Since they are sandals and my feet are bare, I take a little more care for foot placement than I would in any shoe. It's an unconscious thing. I don't want to cut up my toes or jam my foot between rocks and scrape up my skin. I have found for me this works great.

                        When I go backpacking I go a little less minimal and wear Chaco sandals with wool socks. So long as the trail isn't overgrown with stuff that'll get stuck in the socks. The Chacos have the freedom of foot of sandals but the contoured foot bed can sometimes feel annoying. They're heavy and it's a real brick of rubber under your foot. Strap on boots. You won't feel anything. I can hike like a maniac in those. I've done several hundred miles of the Pacific Crest in them.
                        Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.