Has anyone with a high arch switched to barefoot shoes? If so, how far are you able to run in them? Have you felt pain in your knees? Does the arch of your foot feel like it has been over-stretched?

My concern:

If I choose to run in a 'neutral' shoe I will feel pain in my knees when I run over 10km. The cartilage rubs together on the outside of my knee and boy does it hurt. I switched to some mizuno wave riders and put in some arch insoles and ran some 10k's, half marathons and a marathon with no pain at all in my knees. Now I am interested in trying out some barefoot shoes, probably some from vivobarefoot or a similar brand, but I am worried that I will again feel pain in my knees because of my arches. Since I have found a pair of shoes that eliminate my knee problems, I am hesitant to try something new.

  • Do you experience any pain in your feet or knees if you simply walk around barefoot for awhile? – Jacob G Apr 19 '12 at 15:26
  • no, but I also don't experience pain when I walk around in neutral running shoes. It is only when I run a few times around 10-15k that the pain starts. Don't think I am brave enough to take my shoes off and run that far to find out. – Travis Apr 20 '12 at 0:50

Given that you don't experience pain walking around barefoot, your high-arches should make your transition to a barefoot style shoe pretty swift (as compared to someone with flatter feet.) Barefoot running makes arches higher on those that have flatter feet. You won't want to switch immediately and completely so that your muscles and tendons can become acclimated to the new movements created from the reduced heel to toe drop.

Your Wave Riders have a 12mm drop and you probably run heel-to-toe with a longer stride. As you switch to barefoot, you'll reduce your stride and land on your forefoot. Your lead foot will essentially land directly inline with your center of gravity. This change should reduce the amount of force being applied to your knees.

Something in the minimalist category (4mm-8mm drop) is a good first step to not overwhelm your muscles and tendons. I'm a fan of the Brooks' Green Silence (8mm) and the Saucony Kinvara (4mm) for minimalist shoes. A new generation (3rd) of the Kinvaras is about to come out, so you might be able to find some second generation ones on clearance if you're averse to spending a ton of money ($62 online where I work.) I wouldn't jump right out and run 15K in these on the first shot, but instead gradually switch over to them over a few weeks.

The book Born To Run is a fascinating read relating to barefoot running and talks a lot about the overall benefits. The author also discusses his own transition to barefoot style, which may be useful for your situation.

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