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I'm Learning How To Walk

Walking properly is key to painless feet.
It's amazing how a simple thing like walking painlessly can make you rethink what you've learned about your own body.

Here's the situation. I'm a big obstacle race fan.  Warrior Dash, Ruckus, etc... love that stuff.  I like to push my whole body and have fun when I race and get exercise.  I'll never be a fan of marathons or distance cycling or triathlons or anything like that, but give me a three-four mile race with a bunch of stuff to climb over, wade through, swim on, etc. and I'm happy as a clam.

And I also love my Vibram Fivefingers and VivoBarefoot shoes.  They're comfortable, I get that foot massage that comes from just walking on uneven terrain, and they let me feel a little more in control of where I am.

But... the Vibrams and my love of obstacle races sort of came to a head recently.  I'd been having some achilles tendinitis in my heels but nothing that I was really worried about, ever since running the Warrior Dash back in June wearing Vibrams.  The race went fine, I was just a bit sore, but no big deal.

The next race I did was Ruckus, in late August.  Again, in the Vibrams, and again, it went really well.  But a couple hours after that race... yowza.  My heels were absolutely killing me.  I'm now in full-fledged tendinitis mode and it's not fun.  Ice, elevation, rest, etc.

And I also switched my shoes back to regular shoes for a while, so that I'd get that extra cushioning while I walked (as I'm not running anywhere for a while).  Immediately I noticed that they made my feet hurt.  My feet are accustomed to more space and freedom than shoes allow now, and I felt that pain all over my feet.  But I also noticed that they weren't doing a darned thing to relieve my tendinitis.

I noticed that I'm still hitting my heels too hard.  I tend to be a really fast walker, with a long stride, and that means I'm landing on my heels pretty hard.  So I've been doing the same thing when I've been walking in the Vibrams, and that's causing me issues, obviously.

So I shifted my stride a bit.  Instead of walking faster by throwing my foot forward more and landing on my heel, I shorten the stride and simply am pushing off harder at the end of my stride.  And I'm noticing a difference.  It's less painful and more natural feeling, and it really is improving my posture as I walk.  I'm not falling forward, I'm pushing myself forward.  My back is straighter.  My head is up.

And the pain is lessened as my foot is landing slightly more flat.  I'm really getting a good foot workout doing this as my toes push off more strongly with each step.

I'll keep you posted on how this is going - but so far I'm pleased.  I've learned from the mistake and hopefully this slight adjustment in my stride will get me back on my feet faster!


  1. I'm much more aware of my gait while walking since switching to "barefoot" style shoes. (Merrells and Vibrams). I tend to land gently midfoot on the outside of the sole. When I'm moving well (which is not all the time) it feels more like gliding than anything else. No foot pain.

  2. My pain all comes from fatigue when running and falling back into a little too much heel strike. As much as I tried to avoid doing it, it gets tougher as you get tired. And I probably pushed a little too hard in those races. Lesson learned.


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