Karl Muller, a Swiss engineer, noticed whilst walking barefoot through a rice field in Korea that his back pain, which he suffered with, was very much better. After a little further research he learned that the Masai tribesmen of Africa do not suffer from back pain. They also display excellent posture.
Muller deduced that walking barefoot on a yielding surface was much better for both your back and joints than walking on a firm surface. He resolved to develop footwear that would replicate the effect of walking on a soft surface such as sand or grass.
Muller eventually developed the Masai Barefoot Technology (MBT) range of footwear. It is so different to normal shoes that it needs to be thought of as the “anti-shoe”.
The secret of MBT footwear is the specially designed curved sole which has no heel. This promotes a gentle rolling action when your foot hits the ground. It’s like walking over lush grass in your bare feet. Different materials, of different densities, are used in different areas of the sole and this helps to minimize jarring and reduce impact shock.
Independent trials have now proven that this is genuinely much better for your back and joints. There are additional proven benefits over and above improved posture. Whilst walking normally wearing MBT shoes for example, the wearer’s muscles are active for a longer period of time (in comparison with normal walking wearing conventional shoes). The duration of muscle use is increased by around 16%. Wearers also tend to take shorter steps. Both of these effects maximize the amount of work carried out.
The result is that every single step you take whilst wearing MBT shoes provides you with additional exercise. It’s like getting a lower body workout just by walking around normally. So, in addition to improving posture and reducing back pain, MBT footwear can also help to trim your buttocks and tone your legs.
You would think that would be sufficient wouldn’t you? However, in spite of all these benefits, some people find that MBT shoes are a little chunky and not that pleasing to the eye. MBT shoes are also a little more expensive than standard shoes (although the benefits may make them good value for money). Happily, there are now other alternatives available which work on the same basic principle but which are more aesthetically pleasing. Both Skechers Shape Ups and Fitflops have similar curved soles which are specifically designed to increase the length of time that muscles are active and to tone both legs and buttocks whilst doing nothing more strenuous than walking normally.
Regardless of which brand of footwear you choose, the prospect of reduced back pain whilst trimming and toning your lower body seems to be extremely attractive.