One of my biggest challenges over the last year as I have been suffering from Plantar Fasciitis has been business travel. It became clear to me that the rigid Bostonian shoes that I have been wearing for business travel acutely aggravated the injury. It would be feeling better, I’d go on a 3-day business trip and it would be much worse from walking and standing in those shoes.
I have a job where, for the most part I’m in business attire. Suit and tie with dress shoes. It’s not something I can wear running shoes or therapeutic sandals into a client. For awhile I claimed an injury deferral and wore my running shoes around the head quarters – but I’d really rather not have everyone thinking of me as that strange guy in the brightly colored shoes.
As a first step towards finding some shoes that were business appropriate and were a bit more forgiving I went shopping at the big shoe warehouse store. I just kept trying on shoes until I found some that seemed better. They were of the loafer variety and had much less structure to them. These were ok but not the most comfortable still.
In the last couple weeks as I’ve tried to switch to minimalist running in an attempt to strengthen my foot I looked for some minimalist dress shoes. I figured someone must have come up with a solution for this. I found the Vivobarefoot shoes. One of their offerings the http://www.vivobarefoot.com/us/mens/ra-black-leather.html is a dress-type black shoe. They are made out of actual black leather and can take a shine.
The shoe has zero heel and an extra large foot-shaped toe-box. I thought that with my size 12 foot they might seem a bit like clown shoes. The catalog pictures are always size 9 and they don’t always scale gracefully up to my size.
They were as advertised. I wore them this week on a business trip and no one noticed that I was wearing them. They just look like business shoes to the casual observer.
Now they are interesting to walk in. Because that’s what we’re talking about here; walking, not running. You have to learn how to walk without using the big over-stride heel strike. It is hard and it takes awhile to get used to. You do get used to it but it is strange at first.
The one unequivocal thing I would say about these shoes is that they force you to be mindful of your walking. You need to think about where you are going to plant your foot.
Another interesting attribute is that without the heel some of your longer pants are now going to drag on the ground so you may end up tripping on the cuffs of your pants.
After slogging through airports this week in these shoes I found that they performed ok. They have lots of room so your foot isn’t bound. They have no heel and no padding so they force you to be mindful of your walking and standing. I found my balance was much better in these shoes, once I got the hang of them because you are in closer contact with the ground.
They did not protect my feet from the insults of travel completely. My heels got a bit sore from not having cushion. Since there is minimal padding and support you feel the full stress of the walking in your feet, Achilles and calves.
In summary these shoes performed much better than I thought they would. They were not totally ridiculous with my suits. They were ok to walk in and they were fairly kind to my old feet.
I got them from Zappos of 130 bucks. If you’re considering trying some minimalist dress shoes take a look at the Vivobarefoot Ra.