I have been making the slow transition from overly padded, unstable, and heel drop shoes to zero-drop barefoot shoes. My knees have never felt so good.
I have never been an athlete and have never really enjoyed running. There was a short period while I was in the Navy that a group of us got into working out together and would regularly go for runs. But I was never very fast and never enjoyed the running.
I started with Altra Superior shoes that have some mid-sole padding and very little heel drop. I wore those for about 3 years off and on. When I first started wearing them I would get pain in the ball of my left foot. But by switching between different shoes and taking it easy when I needed to, I got used to them. Then I started wearing Converse All Star Chuck Taylor shoes which are zero-drop and don’t have much more padding than the Altra’s I was wearing.
Recently I have decided to take the plunge into full-on barefoot shoes. I now have a pair of Vibram FiveFingers KSO EVO and a pair of Merrell Vapor Glove 5 shoes. The Vapors are good solid shoes, light weight, good fit, comfortable, and when on sale they are a great price. But I have fallen in love with the FiveFingers!
I’ve only been wearing the FiveFingers for a week, but I am already running in them and really enjoying it. My legs feel stronger, my balance is improving, my arches are strengthening, and feeling the ground beneath my feat wakes something up in me that I haven’t felt before.
If you decide to give barefoot shoes a try, take the advice that so many give. Take the transition slow, like really slow, like at least 6 months slow. Zero drop or low drop shoes like the Altras are a great starting point, then on to shoes with less and less padding and sole until the time feels right.