by Laird Harrison
Vivobarefoot has a clever marketing scheme: sell shoes by telling people to go barefoot.
Of course if you really want to feel the trail on the skin of your sole, you don’t need to buy anything.
But I personally only know two people who have overcome their fear of broken glass, thorns and gravel. I want the biomechanical advantages of running barefoot while staying safe from laceration.
That’s why I was happy to try out a pair of the British minimal shoe makers’ new Motus model, released last month and selling for $150. (Don’t look for them in most U.S. athletic shoe stores, which have given up on real minimal shoes.)
The Motus puts only 4.5 millimeters between your foot and the ground. But it’s a tough flexible rubber with hex treads that grab the road.
The extra-wide toe box allows your toes to splay naturally with each step. Not only does this assist in balance, it lets muscles and tendons flex and extend the way they would if you were… well, you know.
The shoe’s unusual fastening system complements this roominess. By combining laces with a Velcro strap, it reduces the blistering friction you might experience if your foot slid around inside the shoe.
Designed not just for running but a variety of ball sports and gym workouts, the Motus also features a thick toe guard missing on other Vivobarefoot shoes. That reduces the risk of stubbing you might experience, say in basketball.
The Outlast lining absorbs heat when your feet warm up, then release it back when your feet cool down.
The Motus Compared to the FiveFingers
Compared to my go-to minimalist shoe, the less expensive Vibram FiveFingers (essentially a glove with a tread), the Motus offers three advantages:
First, it works better for sports like basketball with lots of lateral movement. I got a blister in my FiveFingers when I wore them for basketball on asphalt.
Second, it’s easier to put on. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve struggled to get my little toe in its allotted FiveFingers toe sack.
Third, the Motus also looks more like what the rest of the world expects to see on feet. My wife pretends not to know me when I’m wearing my FiveFingers.
On the flip side, I do like wiggling my toes, even in public.
And perhaps the biggest advantage of the FiveFingers is that you can throw them into a washing machine. The Vivobarefoot doesn’t recommend that for any of its shoes. So I’m always careful to wear socks with the Motuses to keep them clean inside. That puts the Motus one step further from a barefoot sensation.
But overall the Motus has added valuable versatility to my minimal shoe options.
Featured photo: The Vivobarefoot Motus. By Laird Harrison
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