MBT shoes are described by their makers as physiological foot-ware that encourage better posture and improved strength of the legs and ankles, as well as weight loss and reduction of cellulite.
There is considerable concern amongst health experts that our modern way of life is causing us all sorts of health problems, and that we would do well to consider getting back to nature as far as is possible.
One example is our modern diet, high in carbohydrates and bad fats that is a major cause of heart disease and diabetes. Another is the widespread incidence of back problems, related in part at least to poor posture and a sedentary lifestyle.
Many of us are consigned to a desk all day and dont get as much exercise as our body needs, so it is all the more important to make the most of what exercise we do get.
MBT shoes are designed to do exactly that, because their shape induces an instability of posture that your body instinctively tries to correct and therefore uses your muscles much more (up to three times more) than would ordinarily be the case. The exercise for your legs is there every time you stand up and move around without you having to make a conscious effort.
This strengthens the muscles in the legs and ankles giving you a better posture. It is also claimed that when walking, you need to work harder with this foot-ware than with normal shoes, and therefore will burn more calories, so it also helps with weight loss.
As with most things in our world there are the endorsers and detractors regarding the concept behind MBT shoes, and some further information about them is required.
MBT stands for Masai Barefoot Technology and the shoes were invented by a Swiss engineer called Karl Müller in the early 1990s. Apparently, while on a trip to Korea, he noticed that walking barefoot over some soft paddy fields helped alleviate his back, knee, and Achilles tendon problems.
He later discovered that the Kenyan Masai tribesmen don't suffer from back pain and are famous for their perfect posture. They often walk for miles over rough ground yet seemingly suffer no problems as a result.
Muller developed the theory that walking on flat, hard surfaces was bad for our joints and our posture, and a lot of physiotherapists would agree with this. Muller decided that the answer was a shoe with a curved sole, effectively with no heel, which mimics the rocking motion of a foot walking on soft sand or grass. It is impossible with MTB shoes on to stand perfectly still as your body is having to constantly make fine adjustments to keep its balance.
Since then the shoe has become increasingly popular across several continents, helped by publicity from several celebrities who have endorsed the product, despite the fact that the shoes are rather large and clunky looking. It is, like Bauhaus, a case of form following function, leading to a design that hitherto had never been thought of, and, despite their bizarre appearance the shoes are now considered trendy and fashionable. In fact, the shoe has been so successful that other shoe manufacturers have taken up the idea.
The claims of the MBT manufacturers are that with regular wear, the shoes, which look like oversize trainers, will activate neglected muscles, improve your posture and gait, tone and shape your body, ease back, hip, leg and foot problems and help with joint, muscle, ligament and tendon injuries.
There have also been claims that MBTs can help get rid of cellulite and burn extra calories. One study has corroborated the fact that walking with MTBs can reduce strain on the body, and may well be easier on the knee-joints.
They can possibly help people with stiff backs, or who do jobs that involve a lot of standing, because they stimulate the leg muscles and will help prevent vein thrombosis.
Even though anyone can wear MBT shoes, you should be trained to use them properly (the MBTs come with an instruction booklet and you can also watch a video about proper usage.
MTB toning shoes may not be a miracle, but would certainly be worth a try for many people with postural problems, as they offer an experience as near as we may be able to get to that of walking through a paddy field barefoot! Just walking with them at least 1-2 hours a day instead of your "normal" shoes will make a big difference in toning your muscles and burning extra calories.