Friday, November 6, 2009

MBT Shoes - The New Best Running, Training and Recovery Shoes


After a detailed bio-mechanical and practical evaluation of the MBT shoe for both training and recovery I’m really a fan of this so-called “anti-shoe”. It is the contention of this researcher that MBTs will be validated as the new best running shoe for those suffering or recovering from back pain, hip injuries, arthritis, knee problems and conditions of the foot and ankle.

However, unlike the info most prevalently available about MBT shoes creating instability, I believe MBT shoes actually enhance overall stability because of their unique self-righting sole and its ability to act in symphony with the postural muscles. This improves stability as the user's foot interfaces with hard surfaces. The only portion of the gait whereby there is instability in MBT footwear is at heel strike. This functions to absorb the shape of the terrain and lessen pressure on the heel.

MBT functionality could be likened to that of the old Joe Palooka Bob Bag of the 1950's. This was a self-righting punching toy with a counter-weighted bottom. No matter what one did to it, it righted itself in a perfectly vertical format.


Quite simply they are rocker-bottom soled footwear that enhance a user’s ability to maintain natural and proper postural balance. They are super comfortable and nature’s answer to many sports’ injuries and orthopedic complaints of the back and low

er extremity.

“MBT” is an acronym for Masai Barefoot Technology and the shoes were engineered as a result of studying the Masai Tribe in Kenya. These people have a significant lack of knee, foot and ankle problems.

Most running shoes are designed to lessen the n

eed for a good set of balanced muscles. However, MBT design facilitates muscle activity and the recruitment of muscles maintain the balance of the user. This is similar to the benefits to be gained by running barefoot in semi-soft sand.

Although orthotics can be worn inside MBT Shoes, we find they are often unnecessary. That’s right, MBT shoes are a better substitute for most foot orthotics that were prescribed to either relieve heel pain or improve the biomechanics of the foot.


The above diagram showing how MBT design aids the walking/running gait.

The diagram above demonstrates lateral stability and balance fore and aft with MBT footwear.

The unique features of the MBT design are (1) the soft Masai Sensor Cushion and (2) the Self-righting Rocker Bottom Mid-sole.

The sensor cushion is located under the heel, but is longer, less dense and has a different shape than most cushions in the heel of a shoe. On one hand its properties simulate uneven ground, subconsciously soliciting a proprioceptive response from the stabilizing muscles. This compensatory response facilitates adaptation to the terrain.

The balancing action of the mid-sole, with its integrated self-righting/rocker bottom technology, actively exercises the muscles and precisely guides the mid-stance through toe-off motion in a very controlled manner.

All parts of the shoe, work in harmony with the wearer, exercising the entire lower torso and lower extremities while virtually eliminating the stress to joints and ligaments.


This researcher is now an avid MBT wearer. After a stay in the hospital as a result of cardiopathy, I noted that my right knee and right heel were in peril giving me trouble walking. Apparently, the lack of oxygen and immobility resulting from a hospital stay had caused a previously minor condition to rapidly deteriorate. Upon examination by a competent physiatrist (doctor of physical medicine), MRI showed a ruptured Baker’s Cyst combined with severe degeneration of my medial cartilage. I was also suffering from a heel spur and plantar fasciitis. I was determined to walk to rehabilitate my heart condition, so I went shoe shopping and purchased a $120 pair of Salomon XT Wings GTX Trail Runners. These shoes are really top of the line and I rather enjoyed them. My condition was slightly alleviated by them, but not to my satisfaction. After 2 months I purchased a pair of ASCIS Gel Kayanos which although nice and light and comfy, made absolutely no improvement. I’ve always been a fan of New Balance, so I looked for their best trail running shoes and purchased those; again to no avail. I then tried Pearl Izumi’s SynchroSync III, which is a wonderful shoe and the best running shoe I have ever tested by far. This made it possible for me to walk with less pain and even run a little bit. However, after 2 months of wearing those, I was still in pain and not complacent with the results. Only out of curiosity and with lots of skepticism did I try MBTs. I had already decided that Pearl Izumi made the best shoe on the market and since MBT is the “anti-shoe” I suppose that is still true. I was accompanying my sister on a quest for a good walking shoe and this led to my first MBT experience. Wow, I was sold the first time I put them on. The pain in my knee and heel were present, but tolerable. I bought a pair and within 3 day of wearing them I was able to run with minimal heel or knee pain. I’ve saw continual improvement over the next 3 months and today, I’m virtually free of the pain.