A $20 Foot Massage That’s Actually a Pair of Shoes

leandra hot stone sandals repeller sunglasses

The Product: Shiatsu Relax Sandals

The Price: $19.50

The Reason: It started as a joke when I was surveying the most recent new arrivals on Maryam Nassir Zadeh’s website. I saw a pair of flat sandal slides by the brand Bless. They looked like a portable hot stone massage, the medicinal equivalent of a pair of Adidas shower shoes. Snap judgment provoked me: call them in! Try them! Use them for a shoot. It was a harmless pursuit—a vanity-driven inclination toward creating a comical narrative that would double down on how to style shoes with pebbles affixed to their sole. Nothing more, nothing less. But alas, they were sold out—of course! $160 stone sandals made to feel like you’re at the spa, even when you’re not; an opportunity to uncover the silver lining of a very hot day because at least your shoes are being put to work? Genius. A small price to pay.

Upon investigation (a google search initiated by one Elizabeth Tamkin), we found shit tons of the “stone massage slippers” on websites with the word medical in them. One search led us to a pair by Romonacr, a brand that purports to exist exclusively on Amazon and sells the shoes for a literal, blessed fraction of the other price. (See what I did there?) What the first pair did not share was the very specific use case for the sandals, “rooted in principles of reflexology and traditional Chinese medicine,” and the benefits of wearing them.

Instructionally, you are supposed to wear them for 10-15 minutes every day and when you are done, it is recommended that you drink plenty of water—for your metabolism! But in addition to the metabolic benefits, they purport to:

+Massage your feet’s acupuncture points
+Relieve fatigue
+Lift your spirits
+Keep your body healthy
+And happy

As far as design, “You will feel cool and comfortable in [the] summer; and warm in winter.” Romonacr goes on to reiterate that, “It will lift your spirits, relieve stress at work, and improve your productivity at [the] office.”

I hold a great deal of respect for the benefits of Chinese medicine, which have been documented in spades, but since Romonacr’s slippers have yet to be tested by the scientific community, I took their lofty promises with a grain of salt. What would happen if I wore them for longer than 10-15 minutes? Would I need to eat protein to offset the uptick in my metabolic rate? If my spirits were not to lift, would that indicate more chronic blueness?

At a minimum, it was imperative that I try them. And almost immediately, some of the questions were answered—you can’t know, for example, what would happen if you wore them for longer than 10-15 minutes because it is painful as H to walk in these shoes. They say you’re not supposed to judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes, but I have to tell you, a mere 12 footsteps is far enough for me to guturally understand another’s resilience. The greatest victims and probably benefactors of their wrath were the balls of my feet. On a day after a night of wearing heels, it hurt so good.

I imagine people with flat feet, like my husband, who uses a golf ball to roll out his soles, will really, really like them.

And for what it’s worth, they delivered on the lifted spirit clause. Tbd on whether this is a side effect of having taken myself out for a walk (and an orange-mocha-frap-uccino!) but look, anything that gets me up and out of this seat midday is good enough reason to pursue. I probably offset the healthy body piece with my sweet, caffeinated beverage but to each their own, we all have vices, and as far as feeling cool, even after I put them in the oven (not a metaphor) to see whether I could withstand a truly hot stone walk on the wild side, it must be said that in my view, this outfit never would have been as satisfying had I worn another set of shoes.

So: if you’ve ever wondered what a financially sound foot massage at scale, whenever you’d like one and without the interception of another person could be like, if you’d like an excuse to leave the office midday, if you know you need to roll out the bottom of your feet or simply speaking, if you don’t want to spend more than $20 on a pair of statement sandals this summer, trust me—you should try it.

Photos by Louisiana Mei Gelpi.

Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

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