My Lems Shoes review,
an adventure in Youtube clips.
(and other media)
There’s a scene in Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium where he describes his life-relationship with shoes. Here’s the only clip I could find: Magorium’s lifetime shoes (click the link to open the clip in a new window)
I grasped this scene on a deeper level during 2012. I didn’t learn how many pairs of shoes I’ll need to cover my life span, but I did find shoes I want around for my lifetime.
I hoped to craft this review of Lems Shoes into a brilliant masterpiece, closing the case on behalf of minimalism, while explaining Lems’ unique and beautiful place in the health of my own two feet, as told from my perspective as a myofascial therapist whose job is promoting musculoskeletal healing.
I’ve decided it’ll be easier to just start laying it out, see where it leads, and let you draw your own conclusion:
In the 1+ year they have been around, Lems have changed a couple of times. They had me worried they weren’t gonna make it for a while, but they persist. This is good.
I used to love shoes in general. I loved them for, and sought out, the insulating, mindless comfort of the perfect plush ride… Until just over six years ago I made the discovery my feet had become complete wusses. Here’s a clip of me having the experience: that’s me on the table with mentor Til Luchau, demonstrating myofascial techniques with my feet. It was in these moments I was surprised that I had so little awareness of the sensations in my feet, so little control over my toes, and became uncomfortably aware of the inherent confusion and cramping in my wuss muscles.
My feet had wasted into atrophied paddles, simply by plodding about numbly insulated by my ‘plush ride’ shoes, as recommended by my average shoe store. My feet suddenly reminded me of the humans in Pixar’s Wall-e: Here’s a clip if you haven’t seen it.
From that point on I started rebelling against shoes and ‘arch support’ by seeking the truth as to whether my feet could support themselves for an entire day through strengthening my own soft tissues and mind-body connection.
-It didn’t take me long to figure out I could. I was introduced to Vibram 5 Fingers by a minimalist Ultra-marathon running friend, I was elated to find something that allowed me to build my ‘barefoot’ structure, while cruising somewhat mindlessly around the urban environment. It took a year for my feet to learn to support themselves comfortably for a whole day, while just standing, walking and occasionally sprinting to corral one of my kids. (I always hated running until 2012 due to the foot discomfort I couldn’t seem to avoid.)
As my feet started to strengthen and feel great, they started to awaken. The better something feels, the more we tend to want to feel it (associate). The more we associate with positive sensation within our body, the more positive sensation our body wants to generate for us. My feet started telling me the truth about where they were, what they were doing, and whether they liked it or not.
This was the complete opposite of the numbing, dissociative relationship with my feet the previous ‘plush-ride’ footwear represented. Donning dissociative shoes had been a daily gesture telling my feet to shut-up. I had bullied them into their wussy-hood.
The downside to finally associating with my feet is that I had to confront the truths they were telling me: especially how much they hated the old shoes in my closet. It was like I had swallowed the red pill of truth in the Posture-Deforming-Shoe Matrix, and there was no turning back. Here’s a clip of the pill scene plus a diagram of what makes a posture-deforming shoe.
This began my barefoot / Crocs / Vivo Barefoot / Vibram 5 Finger phase. I tended to go barefoot the most, wore Vivo’s 2nd most, but eventually my medial arches and big toes would complain about Vivo’s mildly tapered toe-box deviating the structural support of my big toe. I preferred barefoot. Even 5 fingers began to elicit complaints from my toes. They would complain that they felt constrained and held back after about 4 hours of wear. Luckily I only had to endure this stage for a few years, I was getting really tired of defending my barefooted-ness against cultural taboo, or explaining why I was wearing such freakish looking footwear to every intrigued passerby.
Just in the nick of time Stem’s came on the scene.
I got my first pair of Primal Origins soon after they were released.
My feet were able to fall in love with shoes again,
& they worked with my favorite rehabilitative toe spacer: Correct Toes! Commercials for the shoes and spacer provided:
Lems sole material is smooshy air-infused rubber and offers flexible resilience unlike any other shoe I‘ve felt. My toes quickly pointed out how they enjoyed the freedom of a toe-box where they could splay, expand and lengthen while absorbing the shock and force of self-arch support in each step. I realized this was a major drawback to Vibram 5 fingers for me, as the gloving around each toe acted as a restrictive splint, rather than allowing my toe’s soft tissue to handle the fluid-replenishing squish and tensegrity duties needed in every step.
I initially worried about the slight toe-spring visible in the Lems sole & last, but quickly found it to be a non-issue as the rubber is so soft and yielding it moves effortlessly out of the way, down to contact with the ground. (Completely different than the experience of Merrell’s Barefoot shoes – Merrell uses harder rubber and toe-spring that doesn’t yield, making for an unpleasant and wobbly experience for many people already accustomed to minimalism.)
It’s truly the sole/soul of Lems that I love. The material conveys my favorite ground-feel of any shoe I’ve worn. Its softness allows my feet to remain fully released, inviting and exploring each nuance of the ground, while safely encapsulating my toes in a protective toe-box and taking the edge off the sharp, hard surfaces of the world. My mind can relax and not worry about the broken toes that can accompany snagging your Vibram 5-finger while trucking @ full speed. The 8mm sole provides enough squish that I can savor my old friend: ‘plush-ride’, plus the care-free silence of my feet that ‘plush-ride’ provides. The beauty is now that I’ve swallowed the red truth pill of minimalism, I can trust my feet to let me know instantly if there is something I should need to know, or feel. It’s grand! Lems became my running shoe of choice as I developed a running habit over the last year.
So what does this all mean?
It means I now own one of every color:
If they feel like they do in this video, you’ll need to put in your time building up:
Yep, that’s my Father-in-law in the video. Minimalism will probably never be his thing, and that’s OK. He supports my interest in minimalism, and that’s all any future generation really needs. All the other loved-ones I can get to wear them do, because they know how much I care about their health and longevity, and their feet love Lems too. Here are some of their quotes:
Nephew, Age 20: “I love to hike/boulder in the Redwoods with them, I forget I’m wearing them. All the rest of my shoes end up uncomfortable and I take them off. I often am surprised to find I’m still wearing my Lems.”
Wife, Age ‘Are you crazy?’: “I love the way Lems feel, The rest of my closet is filled with pretty much useless shoes now.” (Don’t throw them out just yet!)
Daughter, Age 11: “I had to get back out of the shower, because I forgot I had them on.”
Mom: “I need to buy more.”
Myofascial Mentor: “Can I order more shoes please?
Me: “What? 5 new models including business/casual?!? I better budget!”
– February 2013, Lems is busting out 5 new models, a boot, an oxford, a mary jane, a loafer, and a boat shoe, as well as keeping the Primal Origin on tap. I’m excited at the idea of a closet full of healthful, useful shoes once again. I am forever grateful for Lems and the health they’ve shared with my body. Maybe you’re ready to walk beyond your wussy feet too? Give it a try.
Be well, Aaron
Wanna learn more about natural foot structure and health? Keep exploring my blog, come to a Rooted Movement Class, or check out my video presentation on Rebuilding Natural Foot Health for Correct Toes @ Egoscue Portland: