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View Full Version : Neuromas, Foot Pain, and Barefooting...


Evan Hobbs
09-28-2009, 02:44 PM
Hi all,

Well I have suffered from a variety of pain (knee, ankle, foot) over the past years and tried going the whole route of podiatrists and orthotics and expensive shoes only to hurt more not less.

Then over the past year or so I have began moving towards barefooting, first with Nike Frees and now with Vibram Five Fingers. So far it has been a great success; my knees, ankles, and everything else feel better than they have in years!

The one thing that has not progressed as much are neuromas according to my podiatrist. They're better than they were but still not super great. For instance if I walk on the balls of my feet it feels there are little marbles or something underneath. If I were to walk a while they start to become tender.

I wonder if anyone else has any experience with this or ideas for overcoming neuromas? Thanks!

Steven Low
09-28-2009, 03:45 PM
Glad to see that you figured out that orthotics don't really fix the problem.. heh heh.

Anyway, unfortunately neuromas are kinda like benign growths on your nerve cells, so the only way you're really gonna get them removed is from surgery. Most of the other treatment focuses on control through orthotics or other foot wear which will help some.. but probably not good for your other joints.

I don't want to be a debbie downer or anything but I'm not sure of any other alternatives (although I am not an expert on the subject so take that for what its worth).

Ben Sparks
09-28-2009, 04:17 PM
I had a pretty minor neuroma in my right foot until I bought a pair of 5-fingers... when it got terrible! I can't blame the design, but the lack of support doesn't seem good for someone of my size. Same thing for running in a pair of old-school (lace up) Vans which are essentially the same as Chuck Taylors.

I fell for all the posts about Pose running and minimalist footwear and went at it a little too hard, I think. In one week there were a couple WOD's with 400m's which I ran in the 5-fingers and one 5K which I ran in the Vans. The neuroma got so bad, I almost couldn't walk without wincing. So maybe the minimalist shoes aren't great for everyone - especially a 220 lb 40-year-old with EE width feet.

So how did it get better? I bought some New Balance wide width cross-trainers for running WODs. They're a lot more firm than running shoes, so whatever lifting or air squatting that comes up in a metcon (not very heavy, usually) works fine. Imagine basketball soles shaped like running shoes. And I also stopped wearing flip-flops at all, and only wear shoes to work with a very large toebox. I got some leather shoes by Keen which are great for work, and Birkenstocks are good the rest of the time. Lots of European-design shoes have big toeboxes. In just a couple of months of all that, the neuroma's just about unnoticeable - without a single additional visit to a podiatrist or a PT.

Sorry to ramble. What you want is big (BIG) toeboxes and decent but firm support. Lifting in 5-fingers or Chucks or whatever is fine, but if you have a neuroma, you might want to re-think running in them.

Jeff Chalfant
09-29-2009, 04:08 AM
I made the same mistake with my Vibrams at first. You have to ease I to them over months if not years. Wear some padding in between uses. You have to let the supportive structures of the foot strengthen, and when they hurt, let those dogs recover.

I later eased into my vibrams and I still can't barefoot on any surface but with the regular, progressive exercise they get my feet are ridiculously strong and healthy. The key is progression- maybe scale it for a while :)

Evan Hobbs
09-29-2009, 01:51 PM
Thanks for the feedback guys. I think easing into is the name of the game but I'm amazed how slow it is. My foot health is steadily improving and I'm amazed at some of the things I've been able to do VFFs (hiking, jumping rope, running, playing soccer) but even after a few months at it there's still always there's a point where they start to hurt even if that point is getting longer and longer. I guess it really could be years.

I'm really not into surgery or alcohol dehydration; if I'm not mistaken that means killing the sensory nerves have numbness on your feet.

Steven Low
09-29-2009, 06:15 PM
Yeah, I'd definitely try to go with the guys above experience.

Good luck