Can sugarcane shoes help you recover from a marathon? We put them to the test

There’s been a recent surge in popularity of eco-friendly running shoes, with brands including Reebok, Salomon and Brooks all launching shoes made from sustainable and recycled materials. Meanwhile All birds – famed for its woollen sneakers – has gone from strength to strength, and has just launched its first sustainable shoe for trail running.

Training doesn’t end when you untie your running shoes and grab a snack, though. Recovery is also essential – which is where the Kane Revive comes on. It’s a slip-on shoe made from renewable plant-based foam to wear after your workouts as you walk and stay active. But what is it actually like to wear – and does it work?

Why a recovery shoe?

“When I was a Team USA lacrosse player I would often finish games and slip my feet into something that wasn’t very supportive,” Kane’s founder and CEO, John Galiardi told said.

“I felt like there had to be a better option for athletes that wanted to take care of their feet, which is why I worked with Dr [Dan] Geller, a board certified foot and ankle surgeon, to develop a shoe that is comfortable, supportive and fun to wear.”

At first glance, the resulting shoe bears a resemblance to a Crocs clog, with its perforated upper for airflow, but the similarity ends there. The Kane Revive is much more sleek and streamlined, with a soft upper and sole made from BouceBack foam (a material created using sugarcane). This is not only more sustainable, but also provides more cushioning than resin.

It’s suitable for any sport, and we tested it after several long runs and can confirm that it’s kind to tired feet after a few hours on the road. It’s easily pulled on using a cord at the back (also used to hang the shoes for storage) and fits as comfortably as a slipper.

It’s also slightly stretchy, providing good support, particularly around the midfoot, and has a particularly wide toebox, which is helpful if your feet tend to swell during a workout.

“Structure is key in recovery,” explained Dr Geller, Kane’s advising podiatrist. “Only through cushion, comfort, support and ease of motion can a shoe call itself a recovery shoe. These facets of the Revive allow the joints, muscles, tendons and bones to recover while still being active.”

Another of the Kane Revive’s unusual features is the bumpy texture on the innersole, which is intended to help improve bloodflow. The bumps are firm but not hard, and although you’ll become aware of the texture if you flex your toes, it’s not at all distracting while you’re taking a gentle stroll, and you’ll soon forget about it while it gently massages your soles.

Inside the shoe you’ll see grooves in the foam that link between the perforations in the upper, helping air flow through more easily, but there are no seams or hard edges at all. The shoe also flares out slightly at the back of the ankle, which prevents any risk of rubbing – a thoughtful design touch.

The Kane Revive is unisex, designed to follow the curves of any foot, and although it’s not a substitute for a foam roller for tight tendons, there’s plenty of arch support. Your heel is nicely cupped as well, with a slight dip in the sole holding it in place. The shoe never felt in danger of slipping as we walked, whether we wore socks or not. 

What is active recovery?

The Kane Revive’s look won’t be to everyone’s tastes (the lime and coral colorways are particularly vivid), but there’s a choice of 12 different colorways, in men’s and women’s sizes, including several discrete black and neutrals that tone things down.

That’s important, because this isn’t just a fancy house slipper; it’s tough and practical enough to wear outdoors for walking and running errands.

“Active recovery is relative,” said Dr Geller. “Maybe it’s walking the dog, going to the grocery store or hiking easy terrain. I also have patients that are wearing the Revive post operative. In general, active recovery is low-impact exercise and activity.”

It certainly feels pleasant post-workout, and Galiardi says that feedback has been positive – including from pro athletes in the NFL, NBA and NHL who put it to the test before it went on general sale earlier this year.

“We’ve got some exciting collaborations in the works, but we’re also excited to refine our product and our company to the best it can be,” Galiardi said.

“Our next steps are working towards a higher percentage of sugarcane in our product and finalizing our B Corp certification. In general, we’re excited for more people to get the product in their hands to try for themselves.”

If you’re curious, the shoe is available direct from Kane Footwear for $70 (about £50 / AU$90) – about the same as two kilos of recovery drink powder.

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