Have you heard of MBT shoes? If not, don’t feel alone. While this type of shoe has been around since the early 1990‘s, it’s only now beginning to gain the widespread attention it deserves. Here are a few of the things that you should know about this particular shoe type and what wearing it could do for you.
The Origins of the Shoes
MBT is short for Masai Barefoot Technology. As the name implies, the shoes attempt to replicate the comfort and general sensation of walking barefoot. At the same time, the design elements of the shoes help to stimulate the function of muscles that are generally not stimulated by other footwear.
The idea for the shoes came about because of an experience that founder Karl Müller had in the early years of the 1990‘s. While visiting Korea and walking barefoot through a field of soft paddies, he noticed that the activity seemed to ease pain he normally felt in some areas of the body. For example, his back hurt a little less. He also noticed that the stress on his knees was lessened. Even the discomfort that walking normally caused for his Achilles tendons was not as severe.
Müller noted that walking through the paddy fields was somewhat like walking across a sandy beach. That in fact led to the name for what would become MBT shoes. The Masai designation refers to the sensation of walking in sand that is found in the Masai region of Kenya. The barefoot portion focuses on the feeling the wearer has of not having anything on the foot. The latter sensation has led some to provide the shoes with a nickname: the non-shoe.
The Unique Design Elements
The MBT shoe is unique in the way the sole is designed. Utilizing multiple layers, the sole provides a level of support that is not present with shoes with thinner soles. The heel is also more rounded with this shoe design. The result is footwear that prevents flat footing along what is known as the proximal-distal axis found on each of the feet. This combination of elements helps to provide excellent support for the arches and effectively replicates the give and take that occurs when walking across sand.
What Claims are Made for the Shoes?
One of the reasons that well-known brands like Timberland Shoes offer this particular style is that they are extremely comfortable. Since the shoes also include a toe box that’s roomy enough to allow the toes to wiggle with ease, they really do feel a bit like not wearing any shoes at all. The fact that you can walk across hard surfaces and still feel as if you are walking across an expanse of beach only highlight the amount of comfort provided.
Along with comfort, claims for the shoes have to do with providing support that eases a number of physical ailments. For example, wearing the shoes regularly is said to help work muscles in the legs and thighs that otherwise do not receive much of a workout. The result is that you tone these muscles along with others while walking. The muscle toning in turns helps to shape your lower body and give the muscles more definition.
Strengthening the leg and thigh muscles is said to lead to many of the other benefits. For example, stronger leg muscles and tendons provides more support for the knees. By easing stress on the knee joints, you are less likely to experience a lot of pain while bending the joints. Thanks to the improved physical condition of the legs, some of the pressure placed on the lower back is alleviated. That in turn means you are less likely to experience lower back pain.
The support provided by the shoes is also said to help with different types of feet issues. Certainly they ease the pain of flat feet and provide more support for the arches. That in turn can take pressure off the ankles and minimize the potential for swelling. At the end of the day, you are less likely to have aching feet or ankles. Instead of wanting to get off your feet and soak them, it’s easier to enjoy the evening and not experience leg cramps once you settle in for some sleep.
There are those who believe that the shoe design ultimately provides the means of enjoying improved posture. The theory focuses on how eliminating sources of pain along the backs of the legs, the thighs, and the lower back in turn reduce the inclination of the individual to slump the shoulders when walking, Since the body is experiencing less pain, it’s easier to stand upright and walk with a more confident gait. The spine is kept in better alignment, when also helps with posture issues.
Many of the benefits associated with shoes sporting an MBT style focus on walking or running. There are also claims that the shoes are also beneficial for people who stand during most of the day. The sole design provides more support and cushioning while standing. This is especially true for people who stand on hard surfaces for most of the day. By minimizing the stress of standing, the individual is less likely to notice shooting pains in the legs of feet. Overall, the legs are said to not tire as quickly. That in turn allows the individual to be more alert, even when standing in the same position for hours on end.
The only way to know how these types of shoes will benefit you is to try a pair. You’ll notice that the general design is a little different in terms of the shape and dimensions of the sole, but otherwise looks quite a bit like a typical walking shoe. The designs are available in an array of colours, with versions for men and women sold at fine stores. After you try the shoes for a few days, don’t be surprised if you notice that some of the aches and pains that are typically part of your day are no longer present.