Disclaimer: We have not been paid nor given this product by Lems shoes. This is a personal view and we have purchased it and experimented on our own accord. We have experienced good success for ourselves and in recommending it to others. This review is our personal opinion and does not reflect on the company.
We have been talking quite a bit on feet lately and how footwear can affect the way we move and adapt/compensate. The barefoot movement is rather cyclic. Initially we were happy with being unshod and wearing minimalist shoes. Then new technology comes up and we see shoes having the latest motion control, gel cushioning and full support. When the book "Born to run" came out, everyone wanted to go back to barefoot and minimalist shoes.
I first encountered the Lems brand of shoes when chatting with a client how it is so hard to find minimalist business/dress shoes with a wide toe box. A common misconception about minimalist/barefoot shoes are usually gym shoes. He was wearing a pair of Lems Nine2Five shoes which were leather business-like shoes. I then proceeded to order a pair to try it out for myself. I have been wearing them for the last 2 years and felt that it was something that would benefit patients.
The Lems Nine2Five looks like this. Wide toe box, flat, flexible. Everything you would want in a good, basic shoe. In terms of sizing, they do have a sizing chart on their website. So for example, I am a US 9, which translates to a Lems size 43. This is the black model. They do have a Mocha (brown) and Coffee and Cream (Brown upper with cream sole).
This is a full-grain leather shoe. Putting on the shoes, it is definitely very roomy in the toe box region, definitely do not feel my toes being squashed together as how a lot of leather dress shoes are with their pointed toes and a wooden heel. It is also very light. On the website, it says that the size 43 (my current size) weighs a grand total of 244g. It is a zero drop shoe, meaning that there is no heel, and no difference in height from the heel to the toes.
Apart from having a wide toe box, they don't look too different from business shoes. In fact, you would hardly notice the wide toe box compared to a narrow toe box when looking at someone.
It is very comfortable and the flexibility of the shoe allows me to have good movement in the clinic, especially when demonstrating movements such as squats, lunges, skipping and other agility drills.
A big part of our practice has been to change clients mindset and help them understand how footwear choices can have a huge impact on their daily life. Top of my list to change ideas are school children and adolescents. School shoes that I see being sold are really stiff in the middle of the shoe, (some are quite) heavy and chunky, and have a hard heel on them. Things we would not recommend in a shoe.
Here is an example of a shoe of one of our superstar young athletes. She was in need of a new school shoe and thus we recommended her a pair of Nine2Five. First of all, we need to give credit where credit is due. The shoe is actually pretty light, unlike some other school shoes that I have come across. However, that's where we feel the pros end.
The shoe has quite a thick and hard heel, which as we mentioned alters the alignment of the spine and shortens the calf muscle. A heel in a shoe would also usually tend to cause one to heel strike (contact the ground first with your heel) rather than midfoot strike (contact the ground with the middle of your foot). (Not to mention the heavy backpacks that they carry sometimes). The shoe has a narrow toe box and only bends at the toe region, not the midfoot region where the foot also needs freedom of movement. As you can see, after repeated "stresses" where the shoe is stiff, it gives out eventually. (Very similar to our bodies, when we do not have adequate mobility but still try and muscle through the movements. Eventually we break!)
To conclude, we do believe that there are other shoes out that do have similar characteristics in footwear that we recommend. Once again, our recommended criteria for footwear are that they should be flat, have a wide toe box, and be flexible. Lems shoes are footwear that we have tried for ourselves and have been impressed with the feel and style of them.
**Focus Physio is the only stockist of Lems shoes in New Zealand. We have tried and tested the products for ourselves and have found benefits for clients. If you think that this might interest you or be of benefit you, please do not hesitate to contact us.**