Sunday, January 08, 2012

Merrell Road Glove Review

The Positives!

Beginning on the personal side, I have to say a big thank you to Merrell for supplying me with a pre-retail version of their Road Glove, back in November.  I attribute the correction of a long-term running injury at least partially, to running in a slightly modified Road Glove (The modification: I threw in an old pair of insoles from Timberland shoes.)  I had been having pain in my right ankle for about 18 months.  I started using the Road Glove exclusively while seeking the correct diagnosis.  It was a long time coming, but an MRI and Dr. Marc Silberman got it right: Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome.  I began ART treatment with Dr. William Bonsall and have continued to run in the Merrell Road Glove.  Presently, the symptoms are close to 100% gone!

Out of the box, the Merrell Road Glove if s beautiful minimal shoe.  It does fit like a glove and can be worn without socks.  It has zero toe-drop and a sole that puts your foot about a half centimeter from the ground.  Your toes can spread out in the toebox for a natural barefoot feel.  As a road shoe, they are head and shoulders above other road trainers in maintaining those important aspects of barefoot technique.  Here is Merrell's official Web Page for the Road Glove.  You can checkout the specs, materials, sizes, prices.  I have many photos of the shoes I received here.

Road feel: There is no cushioning.  Yay!  In fact, the zero drop, and absence of cushioning make this shoe stable enough to wear as a court shoe!  This could become a shoe for many other fitness activities rather than just running.

Merrell Road Glove Sole showing heel wear
The Negatives

Merrell didn't get the Road Glove as right as they got their Trail Glove, I am sorry to say.  You will notice from the photo above, I have some significant wear on the outside of the heel.  This means I am heel-striking when I wear this shoe.  I did not have this issue when wearing the Trail Glove on the road.  I think there are a couple of reasons the Road Glove put me back on my heels a bit.  The first reason is the upwards curve in the toe area of the shoe.  Bare feet do not curve up, and this curve is forcing me to support more weight from the center to the back of my foot.  It would be a simple fix to flatten-out the sole so a user's toes are naturally on the ground in neutral standing position.  The second reason may be the width and flatness of the outsole at the heel.  I tried to take a picture that illustrates the wider sole (below).  The flatness does not mirror the roundness of the bare heel, as the sole of the Trail Glove and Sonic Glove do.  This puts more rubber where it should not be.  So if my foot was barefoot and swinging forward, there would be nothing there to strike the ground first; instead my forefoot would land.  Wearing these shoes with the extra sole puts rubber where the air should be, fostering heel strike.

Heel of Soinc Glove (top), compared to Road Glove (bottom)
 The Bottom Line

The Merrell Trail Glove is another high quality shoe by Merrell.  All their shoes have outstanding construction and materials.  They work right for more miles than most shoes on the market.  Despite the negatives I mentioned above, I am hard pressed to recommend on a better minimal shoe for exclusive road use.  I probably would not have even noticed those negatives, had Merrell not spoiled me previously with the perfection of the Trail Glove and Sonic Glove!