Monday, March 14, 2011

Another great minimalist shoe - Merrell Trail Glove!

Recently, I decided to purchase a pair of the Merrell Trail Gloves.  I have worn a variety of minimalistic, "low-profile" shoes since December 2004 and continue to run by the mantra "less is more".  Although I recognize that such minimalist shoes are not for everyone, many runners could certainly benefit from supplementing their training with barefoot and/or minimalist running.  One of the key benefits of running barefoot or in minimalist shoes is the lack of (or very little) heel to forefoot drop.  Regular trainers have a greater amount of cushioning in the heel of the shoe than in the forefoot; as a result, the Achilles tendon is constantly in a shortened state throughout the gait cycle.  Why is this bad??  The same reason that high heels are terrible for a woman's feet.  A chronically shortened Achilles tendon does not produce the same amount of propulsion as does one of normal length.  Also, transitioning from high-heeled trainers to flats or spikes sans injury is much more difficult.  Training exclusively in more minimal shoes or including them in your training shoe rotation a few times a week can help you avoid these pitfalls.  Remember, as with everything, a VERY GRADUAL transition is necessary to avoid injury, however.

Anyways........the reason the Merrell Trail Glove is so special is because it has a zero heel-forefoot drop!  In other words, 12 mm of cushioning exists in both the heel and forefoot of the shoe = a flat shoe.  The 12 mm of cushioning provides sufficient protection from debris and rocks without taking away the ability to "feel" the ground.  Merrell also designed the shoe in such a way that runners could go sockless if they so desired.....they fit like a glove.  If you decide to go sockless, please make sure you wash them occasionally for your family's and friends' sakes!  Those runners currently wearing Vibrams will be happy to know that the forefoot of the Trail Glove is splayed to accommodate the toes.  This feature allows the runner to push-off the ground just as if he was running barefoot on a grass field.  Overall, the Trail Glove appears to be the first actual "shoe" that embodies the principles of Vibrams without the hippy flare.  A great minimalist shoe for any off-road surface!

Check them out, and let me know what you think!