The Luna Sandals are mentioned here because my buddy Don Tamm began using them for an ultra-marathon. I was curious. Sandals are great to have for a variety of uses; beach wear, shower shoes, or walking around town. No one wants to be in shoes all the time and the open and freeing-feeling they give is good when the feet need time away from confining boots and shoes.
Don had been running in the Brooks line of shoes for almost 2 decades. Finally he switched over to the Altra line of minimal shoes last year out of desperation. He had a nagging IT band problem that stayed with him for years and he wanted to find a solution. He tried doing long-term physical therapy, he tried going back to distance biking (something that he’s really amazing at) to exercise his legs differently, he even took time off but none of it worked.
He first went with the minimal feel of the Altras. I asked him how they were. He said it took him about a month to get into the feel of the shoes. You end up feeling the ground more with every foot fall. For those who like to understand how their feet strike the ground, a minimal shoe is optimal, as it allows you to correct your gait. Don, was running 15 miles a day and his calves were blowing up to the size of hot air balloons because his gait was changing. Once his connective tissue and muscles got used to the added strain, he began to build up the strength to withstand the daily stresses on the various terrain he was climbing.
But the Lunas were an interesting idea for him. He wanted to get a barefoot, minimal feel, because he thought they’d really get him back to zero (basically a reset); before the IT pain all started. I called him today and asked about the Luna sandals. He said, other than in winter, he won’t go back to regular shoes ever again when he runs. He said it’s because they feel free on his feet and he likes that for running. All the IT pain is gone. To think he put up with that for 3 years and didn’t see a solution in sight. Now, he puts up to 6 hour days in the Lunas.
Don running a hilly 50 miler in sandals
Don makes his home in Northern California and thought with good weather that he could run year round, while not having to worry about the chill from snow. I’m not sold on the product just yet but that shouldn’t stop anyone else from giving it a try. I may buy a pair. One allure of the brand is your foot beds get built up from the added challenge of going without shoes. The slight muscle twisting can exercise your feet and it gets those little muscles pumped. Yeah!! Little muscles pumped up large!! Pumping action!
Also, your posture becomes more erect and this is best for your back and stomach. Or so people say. I do actually prefer a flat based shoe with a slight drop and that’s why I run in the Altra line of running shoes. But this might not be for everyone. At $75.00 bucks I might take Don up and take them for a run.
The Luna sandals are built on the belief that they can be used year round. I don’t agree with that. But let’s get into the company thinking, straight from their website, and examine it further. The original Luna sandal concept came after the company founder went to Mexico and made a pair of Hurache sandals from an old car tire. Sure, sandals predated modern running shoes by thousands of years. I got that. And they can be used for hiking, walking, trail running, marathons and every day wear.
Here are the CONS:
- There is a limit to getting everyday usage. Cold weather means you have to wear socks. They recommend using wool or poly blend toe socks during the winter. To me, why not just put on a pair of shoes? I asked Max what he does, and he replied that he wears socks! Okay, makes sense to him. But if I wanted to do that I would wear shoes. Doesn’t putting on socks defeat the purpose of running open toed? But, he’s running in Injinji toe socks, so it really is running nearly barefoot. Okay, this is understandable.
- They come with what is called MGT (Monkey Grip Technology) foot beds. This is good for getting some traction. I asked him about slipping and sliding over obstacles or climbing over rock. He said it’s not a problem. The company is working on a beefed up last so you are able to get uphill in the mud easier too. Can’t wait until then, so I’ll go with shoes.
- They don’t offer as much protection as a regular running shoe. Stubbing a toe hurts like heck and trying to run down technical terrain at high speeds is difficult enough to do in traditional trail shoes. I do this weekly, and my arches are sometimes killing me after striking scree in an Altra Lone Peak shoe. If they get a thicker last, maybe this will correct some of the impact problem. The company is creating sandals with thicker lasts as well.
- To me they are not stylish. But the sandal look may be for some people. You can definitely run long distance races in them, but from what I know in the running community, runners looking for speed will run in regular shoes. The sandals are something that is great for getting in tune with nature, but not for killing miles in record time. Most runners I think will agree the minimal feel is worth trying out. And some use them to train with, but it supplements training, rather than IS the shoe for all-purpose use. The barefoot running is a great concept but doesn’t really work carrying load bearing bags in urban terrains. The foot, I think needs something more substantial than sandals alone. In the end find out what works best for you.
Here are the PROS:
- Helps build up your muscles and connective tissue. Huge for me. I’m a big believer in upright running. Don told me today that your gait shouldn’t be a heel strike, but rather you should run while striking the mid-foot. His gait has changed and he likes it. Says he feels a lot stronger from working his legs and hips differently before. In fact he told me the reason he got into the sandals was to overcome some nagging IT injuries. His injuries are now gone and he’s not going back to regular shoes.
- Comfortable-Who doesn’t like comfort?
- Lightweight- These take up little room and can be used as secondary footwear in your backpack for outdoor or overseas travel. Good in the city and in the field.
- Holds up well.
I like the idea of a survival sandal. Flip-flops these are not because they are well-built. There are sturdy sandals on the market, but very few that you can run in. The Combat Flip Flops look amazing and go to a great cause. Love those things but they’re not for running. I love their quote, “bad for running, worse for fighting.” Sheer brilliance.
I know a guy who ran a Hash/Poker type race in K-mart flip-flops while drinking beer between the event tables. This is where you collect poker cards at each station, and the winner is the guy with the winning hand. After sobering up, he said he the next few days were the worst. His feet were in a lot of pain, and the skin between his toes had been rubbed off by the sandals. Guess he should have had something that didn’t move around so much on his toes.
Just yesterday, I saw a guy at the grocery store and he was wearing a pair. He too was training for an Ultra. I asked him if he liked them. He couldn’t stop talking about them in a good way. I raised by eyebrows. Okay, that’s two people… Maybe they’re on to something here. I asked him why and he said being able to run naturally allows him to run without focusing on the road. He loves the strengthening he gets from the low profile running.
Vibram took the concept and literally ran with it by creating their Five Fingers line of shoes. Too weird for me but don’t let my fashion sense stop you from looking like a wierdo.
The Luna sandal foot-beds can be custom fitted to your foot type. I like that. But as something that I would wear daily? Perhaps. I am going to be more open-minded about it. I definitely see rotating between boots, shoes and sandals and using them for some outdoor events. I’ll never say no to an interesting idea. I’ll have to mull it over in my head a bit more. See how Don fares in his ultra and see if he’s convinced too. Until then, maybe you give them a try. Doesn’t sound too bad.
I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer via Spotter Up so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.
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