Disclaimer: We have been stocking and recommending Lems shoes to our clients and members of the community and have experienced good success for ourselves and for our clients. On this occasion, Lems has sponsored a pair of Primal 2s for us to review. This review is a personal opinion and does not reflect the views of the company.
In our previous posts, we talked about the characteristics of footwear that we recommend for all our clients. As a recap, characteristics we feel are important are that it should be light, flat (zero drop), have a wide toe box and that it should be flexible. These reasons are why Lems is our preferred brand of shoe for office/formal attire, as well as casual/sporting attire. Clients have commented in the past that the wide toe box might look a bit weird, but take a look for yourself and tell me if it looks weird or not.
The Primal 2 is the "everyday shoe" of the Lems range. The Primal 2 looks like this. Once again, a wide toe box, flat, and extremely flexible. In terms of sizing, I am a US 9, which translates into a Lems size 43. (The sizing chart is slightly different for the Nine2Five and Primal 2). This is the "Slate" model. They do come in other colours e.g Black, Brown, Navy blue, Red, to name a few.
The Primal 2 is very light and you definitely notice it as soon as you unbox the shoe. As per the website, my size 43 weighs a measly 195g, hardly anything compared to a heavy shoe that you might have to "lug around". It is very roomy in the toe box and I can feel my toes splay in the toe box region. A lot of shoes in the market have very pointed toe boxes and that would compress the toes. In addition, just go to any shoe shop, or even take your shoes out for that matter, and try and bend the shoe. Majority of the shoes bend only in the toe region as opposed to bending right through the whole shoe. As you can see in the picture on the left, midfoot mobility in the shoe is demonstrated here.
As you can see from the pictures, the shoe is also flat. It has a stack height of 9mm and an insole of 3mm. This allowed me to have good ground feel but still had enough padding to do a long walk in them. Let me first say that I have been using minimalist/barefoot shoes for a long time and usually run in my New Balance minimus 10v2 for distances up to 3-5ks. As a reference, a few weeks ago a friend and I did 15,000 steps in 3ish hours wearing my New Balance and I got quite sore feet after. Not long after, using these shoes, I did about 12,000 steps in 2ish hours and my feet weren't quite as sore. I felt that the padding definitely did help to ease the ground forces experienced in the foot and made things a bit more comfortable. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy running in my New Balance, but for long walks e.g during travel, I feel this would be perfect for that. (I must also add that these shoes did not require any breaking in. It was pretty much wear and go!)
A few clients have commented when going from a "traditional" shoe to this, that their feet felt like they were "collapsing". I wrote a post previously on "collapsing arches" and my clinical reasoning is that being in a supported shoe and having the insoles/orthotics do the work for the muscles have made the feet musculature lazy and thus when transitioning to a shoe like this, the intrinsic muscles of the feet are not equipped to handle the load. Moreover, after being in a narrow shoe, that would make the "inward collapsing" of the feet in the shoes more pronounced.
Nevertheless, a solution that a lot of clients have benefited from is the use of the Correct toes toe spacers, which I also did a review on previously. The toe spacers helped to spread the toes, which enabled the foot mechanics, and by extension the foot musculature to work more efficiently.
In conclusion, we do believe that yes, there are definitely other shoes in the market which do exhibit our "preferred characteristics" in footwear. Lems is our preferred brand of footwear that we have tried and tested for ourselves, and have been impressed with the style and feel of them.
**Focus Physio is the only stockist of Lems shoes in New Zealand. We have tried and tested these products for ourselves and have found benefits for our clients. If you think this might be of interest or benefit to you, please do not hesitate to get in contact with us.**