Vibrams and Sesamoiditis: The Recap

Here it is at last; a recap on how the Vibrams affected my sesamoiditis.

I’m not about to say “Woohoo!  I’m cured!”  I am however going to tell you that I am probably 90% better and that the Vibrams definitely helped. Just a quick warning: There is a gross picture in this post! Sick smile

BIG DISCLAIMER:  I am not a doctor, kinesiologist, nutritionist, or physical therapist.  This post is based solely on my own experience and personal research.  Do not under any circumstances change anything about the way you run or start a running program without discussing it with a professional first. 

How did I get sesamoiditis?

Well when I get into something I get into it.  Sesamoiditis is basically an overuse injury.  See this post on what it is exactly.  Anyway, I took a month and a half off from running after my half-marathon in November ’10.  When I got back into running I did so way too quickly for my fitness base.  That and my shoes were apparently too small for distance running.  Did you know that your distance running shoes should be about 1-1 1/2 sizes bigger than your actual shoe size?  This is because your feet swell as you pile on the mileage.  Which I did and in the wrong shoes.  In two weeks my long run went from 4 miles to 8.  The elites like Scott Jurek, Paula Radcliffe, and Kara Goucher can do that fine but mere mortals like myself cannot.  Actually, I’m sure their coaches would probably not advise a 50% mileage increase in a two week time span either. 

Why did I choose to get Vibrams?

I chose to get Vibrams because I was tired of buying new shoes and finding that they didn’t work or that my feet would still get blisters.  I did go to specialty running stores so I could get fitted, recorded on a treadmill, get the special socks and all that but I still got blisters.  Check out these three bad boys from my half-marathon Embarrassed smile 


Pretty hot, I know.  

My husband and I were discussing the merits of barefoot running one day (him pro and me against).  After discussing studies that stated:

  • barefoot running causes less collision force on joints
  • fewer injuries
  • more efficient stride and foot strike
  • more balanced muscles throughout the feet and calves
  • getting more in touch with your running surface

we eventually agreed that maybe it was worth a shot.  I wanted to try something like the Nike Frees though.  Life without shoes??? Impossible!

Anywho, like the nerd I am, I researched barefoot running a TON.  I also came across a little book named Born To Run.  You may have heard of it.  It’s kind of a big deal. 

No. Seriously.  Go read it now.  It’s changed the way I look at running forever.

I went to my track on base and took my shoes off.  I ran without them and wait a second . . . nothing hurts.  Weird.  I put my shoes back on and yep my toes started hurting again.  That settled it.  I was looking into vibrams.

How did the healing process go?

SLOW.  Nightly ice baths weren’t enough.  Stretching my toes hurt and they would randomly just start throbbing.  I noticed that my big toe seemed to be turning inward a bit and when I pulled it straight, it felt MUCH better.  I read that when sesamoiditis gets severe enough, doctors will recommend a splint to keep the toe from wandering too much and to relieve pressure.  That’s actually the other reason I chose to get vibrams.  They make a very expensive splint.  When I put them on the first time (I had to fight to get them on) they forced my toes straight and actually gave a slight lift to them but then All. Of. The. Pressure. was gone! My toes instantly felt better while I had them on.  So I combined wearing the vibrams and nightly ice baths.  I also stopped running for a little while to help them heal.  I didn’t actually have much choice since I spent the entirety of March moving to another country and working 12-14 hr shifts while taking two online courses.

What’s preventing the rest of the healing?

Well I’m pretty positive that these clunkers are what’s keeping me from getting all the way better. 


They have no flexibility in the sole (they’re combat boots, why would they?).  They also have a nice steel plate in the toe box that presses against my toe joints when I walk.  Oh and did I mention the 18-20 miles a week I walk in them? The only time my toes hurt now is when I’m walking around with these on.  Check out that heel!  Can you tell which way I pronate?

How’s the Barefooting?

That’s going slow too but that’s a good thing.  I’m going very slow on purpose because I don’t want to potentially aggravate any lingering sesamoiditis and also because I don’t want to add any other injuries.  I’ve been starting my runs out with the Vibrams and then switching back to my Brooks.  I’ve only gone up to about a mile and a quarter but I’ve only been running with the Vibrams a few weeks. I stopped using them during the two weeks of 10ks.  I admit I baby myself but I’ll talk about that in another post because there is a reason.

Well there you have it.  I hope you’re still with me because that was a really long post Sleepy smile.  I don’t know if that helped anyone out there with sesamoid issues but I hope it did.  Just know that you’re going to need rest, ice and that the Vibrams do help but aren’t necessary.  I just very much liked how they set my feet straight and I have definitely seen some more calf muscle definition.   I can feel my arches are getting stronger too.  If you have anymore questions that I didn’t cover let me know. 

Good Luck and Happy Running!

I didn’t receive any endorsements from the Vibrams company.  I bought my shoes myself and based this post off of my own experiences and research. 

3 thoughts on “Vibrams and Sesamoiditis: The Recap

  1. Thanks! I feel like i’m doing a similar healing process with my sesamoiditis. Currently I am resting it, and then I’m gonna try and build up strength with barefoot running.

    • Hey there Sheena. Thanks so much for stopping by. I hadn’t thought about writing a post on it again but I can honestly say that I haven’t had that sesamoid pain in over a year. I still use my vibrams for short runs or walks. I haven’t tried to make myself do any long distance running in them but I do love them still. I hope your sesamoid pain gets better very soon and that barefoot running goes well for you. Thanks again for the comments.

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