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  1. #1
    Phresh's Avatar
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    Vibrams and stress fractures..

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    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 at 02:42 AM.

  2. #2
    lorichka6's Avatar
    lorichka6 is offline Senior Member
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    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. #3
    Phresh's Avatar
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    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.

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    Fossman's Avatar
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    Out of curiosity where did you hike in Maine?

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    Phresh's Avatar
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    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.

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    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.

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    Fossman's Avatar
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    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.

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    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.
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    Owly's Avatar
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    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.
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  10. #10
    Phresh's Avatar
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    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?

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