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Foot/ankle pain after transitioning to Vibram five fingers

Share Your Story: Running Injuries

By Chris

Updated May 18, 2011

What injury did you sustain?

It started with pain on the tops of both feet and outsides of the ankles. After a period of three weeks, my feet and left ankle have recovered, but my right ankle is still very painful on the outside, near the area where it connects to the foot.

How did it happen?

I had to replace my running shoes, so I decided to try the Vibram five finger running shoes because I supernate and they are neutral in design. (what I did not realize is that I have a high arch.) I noticed pain in the feet and ankles, but thought I was just adjusting from the shoes I originally had. (they were designed for pronators, as most running shoes are) I ran in the Vibrams a couple of more times for 7-10 mile sessions. The pain grew intense enough that I knew it was not just stemming from adjustment to the new shoe design. I returned the shoes for a traditional, neutral running shoe, but the pain persists. It's been close to a week since I attempted a run because it hurts to walk. It hurts the most in the morning, and seems to loosen up a bit throughout the course of the day. The pain never goes away, though.

Tips and Tricks

  • The only thing that seems to help is ibuprofen. Too much rest seems to make it stiffen. Too much use also causes pain. Standing while remaining stationary and sitting are the only time the pain is not present.

What was your recovery like?

I am not recovered.

How has your running changed since the injury?

I cannot run. It's too painful. I tried a ten mile run at a very slow pace, but that sent my right ankle back to the original injury level of pain.

Elizabeth Quinn, About.com Sports Medicine, says:

Chris, you may want to visit a sports doc or PT to learn if you may have developed a tendinitis / plantar fasciitis or other tedon/ligament injury. Transitioning to Five Fingers (or other minimal shoes) can be quite a shock to the foot and requires a very slow adaptation phase. Check out these pros/cons of barefoot shoes to get some tips on safety and adaptation.
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