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MBT Shoes

What to Know and Where to Buy Them


MBT Shoes
Eduardo Parra / WireImage / Getty Images

***Important 2008 Update: Please take the time to check out this additional information and reader comments on MBT shoes.

I've had a lot of shoes in my time, but I can honestly say MBT shoes are the first that have come with an instruction manual. What's to know about wearing shoes?

1) Put shoes on.
2) Stand, walk or sit in the shoes.
3) Repeat as necessary.

That might well be the case with ordinary shoes, but then MBT shoes are anything but ordinary. Below is a bit of background information on the company, my own experience with the shoes, and links to shopping and a review of MBT shoes.

Masai Barefoot Technology

MBT stands for "Masai Barefoot Technology," and the shoes are designed to simulate walking in sand. It's a multi-layered, curved sole that accomplishes this by creating a natural but uneven walking surface. This technology is meant to make the core strengthening muscles more active, creating better posture and increasing shock absorbtion for all of the joints. It also makes wearing the shoes quite a unique experience, and a bit of a workout.

Benefits of MBT Shoes - What's Real and What's Hype

MBT shoes have been billed as "the world's smallest gym." Since they increase muscle activity, strengthening and toning of the leg, buttock, stomach and back muscles takes place during everyday activities like walking and standing.

They've received a lot of press since celebrities like Cher, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Heidi Klum have reportedly added them to their shoe collection. Their unique design has supposedly help wearer's tone up, lose weight, and even smooth cellulite, which has garnered the brand a lot of attention as well.

While no such claims are made on the manufacturer's web site, MBT shoes have been used in training by olympic medalists, and other top athletes. And according to Swiss Masai Inc., other benefits of the shoes include:
  • Increased muscle activity
  • Increased circulation
  • Encourages upright posture and relaxed stride
As well as relief of:
  • Muscular Tension
  • Joint Problems
  • Back Problems
  • Leg & Feet Problems

Wearing MBT Shoes

MBT Shoes look weird, but not neccesarily in a bad way. They definitely don't look like a new release from adidas or Nike, but thanks to more recent attention to cosmetic design, many of the styles don't look exactly like sensible shoes either.

The first thing you'll notice is the extremely thick and curved sole. If you set one of the shoes on the floor, and look at if from the side, you see that the parts of the sole under the toes and the heel do not actually hit the floor. This looks strange, of course, but the really odd part is how the shoes feel when you first put them on -- like you might fall backwards. The extremity of the sole is probably in part why the shoes carry a warning that they're not meant to be warn on slippery or wet surfaces -- I strongly suggest you heed this warning, and exercise caution when you first begin wearing MBT shoes.

My Thoughts on MBT

After a few minutes in the shoes, I actually began to like them -- a lot. I did feel like I was getting a mini workout, but they also gave me an oddly energetic feeling.

Despite liking the shoes, I wouldn't and I haven't worn them every day. This is mainly because I'm a bit of a slave to fashion, but also because I view them as more of a piece of equipment, than a pair of shoes. In these shoes, I feel that a trip to the grocery store could almost qualify as a workout.

Until a time when I actually need some of the benefits that MBT shoes have to offer, I'll leave them to the real athletes and people who have been encouraged to wear them by a physician.

Where to Buy MBT Shoes

  • The review products for this article and the MBT review were provided by Footwear, Etc.. They carry the complete line of MBT shoes and socks, which can be purchased online, or at any of their six California locations. They also have loads of information on the brand, including customer testimonials

  • To find a retailer of this brand in your area, you can visit the store locator at Swiss Masai Inc.
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