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I love my MBTs. I basically live in them. Have bought them last August on Ebay for £72-beforehand I did try them on in a specialist shop in Brighton, so knew which style and size suited me perfectly. Be aware of the sizes-you will end up probably getting a different size one from your normal shoe as the sizes go up 1/3 rather than 1/2.
The reason I bought them:
My posture has never been great, I did make the effort to walk straight, head up,etc-but according to my OH I was walking like a camel. What this means exactly I do not know but it definitely does not sound right for a 30yr old. Saw the shoes advertised on the internet, read about them and was keen on trying them on. The shop in Brighton was fantastic, different styles, colours,etc, they measured me there, made me walk around in them, up and down the stairs and it felt really good. The price at £149 was not convincing though so OH suggested we went back home and did search on the web. Ebay can't be beaten on prize. Mine are black and red and grey, they do go well with jeans and even with skirts and tights too. Shoelaces are red-I don't mind them but some people prefer plain black ones to make the shoe look like more black than colourful therefore not so visible for everyone. I am proud of my MBTs and do show them off all the time.
What are MBTs about?
~It claims that they help them solve knee and back problems ( I used to have lower back pains-still do sometimes so don't really know if it is true or not)
~relieve tension in the neck (for sure-I'm not tense anymore)
~easy joint pains
~helps to tone your body - YES!
~burns more calories than any other shoe - kind of agree, you do want to go for longer walks in them meaning that you will burn more calories
You can read about the principles and history of MBTs on www.uk.mbt.com-pls do take your time reading it through, it has lots of useful information about the shoes and ideas.
My first day...
It is suggested that you start to wear them gradually, increasing the time by hour each day. Well, if you know me than you know that I am not that kind of person-I put them on at 8 in the morning and took them off at 6. Had a hell of a day. Everything hurt me-my legs, my back, my neck, surprisingly my stomach too. Next day the same thing happened. And the next day, and the next day. By week 2 I was getting used to them, and was looking forward going for long walks, wanted to ban those cellulites.
And the rest...
is history. I have been using them day or night, all year round. They can get too warm at summer time but as English summer is not very hot anyway, it did not bother me. My posture indeed improved, my legs and stomach became toned and there are fewer cellulites-long walks/ MBTs/ gym worked. I look taller in them,meaning skinny jeans do suit me finally, and my cracked heels became smooth. Yes,they should put it on the website, it does really help to get rid of those cracks.
Would I recommend them?
Yes. They are expensive but worth every penny. Many of my friends are proud owners of MBTs now because of my experience and they can give you the same feedback. The shoes are durable, I just found it out that if the sole of the shoes are getting worn,than you can send them off to a company who would exchange the sole for £35- even if you have to do that every year,still worth doing it,rather than buying a new pair. You just need to pop into any MBT retailer shop or to Sweaty Betty and sort out for you everything, within 2 weeks you have your shoes back. Mine are nearly a year and half old and they are still in good condition, have a very careful owner!
I'm an ENTJ....how about you?
MBT shoes are not all that new new, but the various spin offs they have spawned (Sketchers Shape Ups and Reebok Easy Tone among others, not to mention the FitFlop) were being rather hyped in the American press last year. I saw adverts for them in most of the (many) magazines I read while in Mexico and they reignited my interest in 'fitness footwear'. However, when it came time to invest, I decided to go for the originals, and purchased some MBTs in July this year. NB: MBTs should not be confused with MBTI, the Myers Briggs Type Indicator which gives you a 4 letter combination (mine's ENTJ) to describe your personality type. Be careful when looking MBTs up on Google as the results will show both.
Walk like....a Kenyan
MBT doesn't really stand for what my title would suggest - instead, it's Masai Barefoot Technology, aka what they are trying to simulate with the footwear. The shoes were developed by a Swiss engineer following a visit overseas in the early 1990s in which he noticed that his previous back and knee pain disappeared following time spent walking in the style of the Kenyan Masai (good posture, barefoot, and often over soft paddy fields). He deduced that a shoe that mimicked this environment might help ease his pain back on firm, dry land, and set about trying to develop one.
The company dubs their products 'the anti shoe' because although they go on your feet and you wear them over socks, they're unlike any shoe you might have come across before. Why? Well, the soles of these 'shoes' are curved, not flat, and the overall structure is an unstable one. Much as I might argue otherwise, the other shoes in my shoe closet, even my dangerously high work heels, are technically supposed to be stable.
Why run when you can walk?
The idea behind MBTs is that you can get a decent workout just from walking, by challenging your body in different ways. It's not even walking, really, but rolling, thanks to the curved soles. Proper, scientific follow up studies have shown that this movement can help resolve knee and back problems, ease joint pains and tone legs and bottom, by challenging the muscles in unorthodox ways. They improve posture even when standing still and you will burn more calories walking with these shoes compared to others, and can even run in them (though experience has shown me this is more of a bounce than a normal sprint). They make additional claims that these shoes reduce cellulite, due to the way they tone the muscles in your legs (you can reduce the appearance of cellulite - which is just fat really - through standard weight training).
Feel the burn...
If you've ever walked barefoot on a beach, you'll know how it feels different and how sometimes your legs might ache afterwards. This is the sort of 'natural instability' they are trying to replicate with these shoes, in a more practical format for those of us who live in wet, rainy cities where finding a sandpit to walk barefoot through might garner you some rather peculiar looks (...though sometimes the design of the shoes does the same, as you'll find out shortly). I found them rather novel at first, but not difficult to walk in. I strapped them on the day they arrived, and set off to the supermarket a couple of miles up the road, wandered the aisles, and then meandered back through the park, walking in total for over 2 hours which is not what they recommend (you are supposed to ease in slowly) but had no problems with my legs hurting afterwards. Some people also report the sort of pain you get in stomach muscles after doing a few too many crunches but again I didn't notice this. Both leg and stomach pains will fade the more you wear the shoes, and the more you tone up different muscles, if you feel any pain at all. I think it just depends on what your body is used to - my legs and feet complain more after running around in certain pairs of heels for a day than from wearing these. Rather oddly I did feel slightly sick the first time I wore these for an extended period, perhaps a sort of motion sickness from the weird rocking movement, but this wasn't hard to walk on through and only happened that one time.
Normally I wear these for a couple of hours at a time, but I wore them on my recent weekend in London as a bit of an experiment to see how my legs fared after constant MBTing as I now call it. By the end of my first day my legs did feel tired, but that could have been as a result of walking around the capital on a day when normally I would have not strayed far from my desk. The next day, after a good night's sleep, I was fully recovered but again after another day of trekking my legs felt tired - not painful, just a little weary.
While I don't buy the argument that muscle weighs more than fat (um, a kilo of muscle and a kilo of fat both weigh...a kilo) I am aware of the benefits of building lean body mass, not least that a kilo of muscle burns more calories per day just to maintain itself than a kilo of fat does. In other words, build more muscle and you can eat a bit more without feeling guilty. Like many girls, I favour cardio in the gym though, and am a bit half-hearted when it comes to weight training. While these shoes can't replace resistance work, wearing them to walk around at weekends I have felt I've been supplementing my routine in a useful and healthy way. Several months in, my legs certainly look and feel more toned, though it's gut feeling, rather than science, that makes me think the shoes have something to do with it and I was hardly going to run a control trial by wearing a normal shoe on one foot and an MBT on the other (à la 'we washed half the head with Head and Shoulders, and half with an ordinary shampoo...')
Walking in the air in my special shoes...
There are a number of downsides to these shoes, beyond the price (see below). However, for me the most obvious one is that they look rather like special shoes, and not in a good way. The shoes are massive (even my size 4s) and have a thick sole similar to platforms, so just like the Snowman, you're walking in the air- something I found funny at first given their claim that they simulate the sensation of walking barefoot...by lifting you higher off the ground than normal. They are also quite heavy - maybe that contributes to the leg toning (like wearing a weighted vest might) since you're literally lugging around more weight than normal. A bonus at this time of year, however, is that the shoes are very waterproof, and the thick sole does stop me ruining the bottom of my trousers, even when the pavements are full of puddles, which is always handy.
I have also found that these shoes can rub a bit, especially on the backs of my ankles. As a result I always try to wear them with proper socks, not trainer socks (even though they are trainer shaped, more or less) to put in that barrier of fabric). To be honest, I often find new shoes rub (I must have funny shaped cankles) so I am used to having plasters with me and/or checking my socks before I set out, but I somehow had always atributed this to cheap shoes, so was caught off guard by these ones.
The 'worst' thing, though, is the style or lack thereof. These are perhaps the ugliest shoes I've ever owned, and that's despite my taking ages deciding which style of MBTs to get, choosing the best of a bad bunch. When I look down at them they look like Rollerboots (without the wheels), with weird rounded sides and a curved tip. They are a mixture of shiny, patent plastic and other materials, and the black and red design is, well, let's just say it's hardly subtle. These are best worn with long jeans to cover the worst of it, and the day I wore mine with cropped capris was the most self-conscious day of my life as I walked round the park desperately willing people not to look down at my feet. I'd have pared them with a low cut top to draw the eye up if that wouldn't have made me look a little like a street-walker-meets-homeless-person.
As one reviewer aptly put it, "MBT trainers seem like an unlikely item of footwear to catch the imagination of the young and trendy. With their thick, curved sole and sensible wide straps, they look like the sort of thing you need to wear if one of your legs is shorter than the other." Perhaps it's no coincidence that MBTs first gained a following in Switzerland, Austria and Germany, where people also willingly stick their feet in the fugliness that is Birkenstocks. That said, the shoes seem extremely well made and mine show not even the slightest signs of wear despite now getting a good workout at least two days a week for 5 months. They are built to last which lessens the blow of the cost somewhat - a pair of £5 Tesco shoes I bought around the same time have already worn out and needed replacing.
If the shoe fits...
I am not a big expensive shoe fan - my aforementioned shoe closet came with the house, and is filled with £5 supermarket ballet flats - but something about these intrigued me, so I shelled out some hard-earned dooyoo miles on a pair. At around £75 off eBay, I paid much less than the rrp, but got a brand new pair of originals including tags and the accompanying DVD which taught me how to walk the MBT way. This is somewhat useful since you have to step slightly differently, but I was a bit keen to get out in them immediately so watched it after I'd already taken them out for a test drive, with no ill effects.
I don't know how much they live up to their claims, but they do encourage me to walk more, which can't be a bad thing. At weekends I am now more likely to go out for a walk with no real destination in mind, just so I can feel like I'm doing a bit of exercise. For this reason alone, they have proved a good investment for me, as I'm able to increase my workout without having to break a sweat or gallop along, and more importantly am motivated to do so.
If you don't have the time or money for a gym membership but have a new year's resolution to squeeze in more exercise, why not invest in a pair of these and a pedometer, aim for at least 10,000 steps a day and roll your way to a more toned figure, one ugly step at a time.
I bought these trainers in the summer and I'm really pleased with them. They are effective in working your leg muscles.
Although these shoes are pretty expensive I had heard good things about them and thought I would try them out to tackle the problem of my skinny little legs. Although I can't say I have noticed my leg muscles have gotten bigger I can definitely feel them working, even when standing still. I only use them occasionally but if you want a more intense workout use them everyday (but make sure you give yourself a bit of time ot get used to them first). I also own a pair of fit flops but the mbts give a more intense feeling of having really worked your leg muscles. I also think they improve my posture and activate a range of muscles such as back and hips.
I'm not going to lie. Most styles of mbt's look really weird and a bit ugly in my opinion. However, I don't intend wearing these for anything other than walking the dog in the park so i don't care how they look. If you want something a bit more stylish I suggest you go for fit flops instead!
It is recommended that you try them on before buying as its really important to get a good fit. I tried on a friends pair which were a size smaller than I usually take but they felt really good on so I got the same size and they have been really comfortable. I actually bought mine on ebay for about £70 which is cheaper than most shops where they are usually over £100 at least.
I found that they weren't very good on uneven ground because I felt as if I was going to fall over! I now only wear them when I'm walking on proper paths. I also don't wear them when its raining because they sound a bit squelchy so I'm worried the spongy bit is soaking up too much water.
If you think you would get some use out of mbt's I would highly recommend them because they feel really good to walk in and make your leg muscles work much harder than normal walking.
M.B.T stands for Masai Barefoot Technology. Its based on who walk barefoot in their native country and actually have amazing posture and ate very slim. Much of the M.B.T product was sold to me on the idea that they will make you thin. But on reading the info on both the website and the little book, it becomes very apparent that this is not the case.
What they DO say they do is improve posture, increase muscle use in your bottom, thighs, calves and foot muscles and take the pressure of certain joins like your knees so that they don't get over worked which could apparently help when your older with joint replacements. They also are said to improve your core.
But how? Its hard to think just a pair of what look like platform trainers can do all this- especially if your experience of platform trainers is like mine where you fall over sideways and kill which ever ankle you went over on. That with the back pain which occurs as you struggle to bend your knees properly and your back takes all the strain.
Well I am pleased to say that MBT trainers are different, and I can say this as I have tried them.
I bought my pair just after Christmas in the sale, The normally will set you back anywhere from £119 to £170 depending on which style you go for- they really do vary in style. In the sale they were a slightly kinder £61 from Sweaty Betty. Mine are a grey colour, they come in various shades of grey, cream, black, brown, white and sandal style. They do have a certain 'look' and even in black, I wouldn't advise them to go on a night out, they really don't cut it! But are passable in jeans, you could try to vamp them up with a petticoat and plain black version but you'd have to be brave to try this, these are definitely for sports and fitness, not for style!
I first put these on and tested them in the store- I was really given very clear instructions on how to wear them and walk in them. I don't know if this is just Sweaty Betty customer service here or if its what happens everywhere- it was the same thing going on in the Vitality Show in London earlier this year, but again, they were selling, I had already paid.
There is a little instruction booklet which also explains the way to walk in these, its not very different from normal walking from the outside looking in, but actually, it does feel different.
You see the bottom of the shoe- the surface where the sole touches the pavement is ever so slightly curved, and the heel itself is nearly not there its so curved- (this is a good thing as I have worked out I don't trip up in these for that reason!)
You put the shoes on as you normally would, and tie the laces -some varieties have a special lace tie, mine did, they don't all do but if you can buy one, do so, it is really nifty and keeps your laces tightly tied, unlike tying them in a knot and bow which can loosen. Also its quick to tie with the special lace tie. Some shoes have them, others do not, some stores will sell them to you if shoes don't have them, others don't You could also try contacting the company and asking them if you can get some from them.
You then when the shoes are on, sit on a chair and lightly stamp the heel of your shoe on the floor so your heel slips comfortably to the back of the shoe. Next thing your ready to go!
Walking in these takes some concentration and getting used to at first. You don't just go stomping around like you do in normal shoes, I was advised to try in slow motion first: you place the heel on the floor and ROLL your foot to the toe, making sure that you do not over pronate. (Over pronateing is where your foot rolls into the instep/inside of your foot) your meant to be pushing the foot pressure towards the outside edge of your foot. Its also important to remember that the centre of gravity in each foot is the CENTER of EACH foot, not the centre of your instep. At first it feels odd, this will ache your mid off the pressure building in your abdomen and calves as you walk in these. Its a good thing, you would rather concentrate on the weirdness then the muscle contractions!
I found that immediately my shoulders went backwards and my calves tightened, my ankles did too. This is the effect of walking on an uneven surface: namely to surface of the shoe. Your body tries to keep the balance- which it does, and your muscles over time strengthen to help this.
I think that my ankles did the job of my abdomen as for me, this did not tighten, it was purely my lower legs and ankles. But better then walking in ballet pumps or trainers and not building any muscles hey?!
The script tells me that I will over time have increased posture, increased abdomen activity, 9% Buttock muscle activity, 19% rear thigh muscle activity, 18% lower limbs activity and loose 19% of joint pressure in both my knees and hips. It all sounds great but did it work out?
Well, I did find these easier and easier to wear over time. But my main difficulty was in getting over the blisters rather then finding these tiring. (But I will get onto that later!) I should explain. I go to the gym 6 days a week. At the time I bought these I was doing so 7 days a week and doing 6 Yoga classes a week and many cardio and body conditioning classes, roughly 14 a week and walking a good 30 minutes and up to 2 hours a day. So I really already had the muscle strength to cope with these, it was unlikely anyway I would have felt any discomfort or tiredness in wearing them and I didn't. My ankles were ever so slightly tired- these are quite heavy shoes, you only have to pick them from the shelf to know this! I didn't feel any core muscles strengthening, infarct I found I stuck my belly out to try gain balance- so was constantly nagging myself to 'suck in', and when I did I actually found that helped my balance too, I can see how if I keep on my toes when wearing these that my stomach will eventually behave and appear more toned, simply because to suck inwards requires muscles and as I use these muscles more, I build them up.
I read at a later date, your supposed to build up wearing these, from about 30 minutes a day, gradually. I did not do this, I dint feel I needed to, nor did I want to lug around heavy heavy foot wear in addition to an already huge bag of tricks. I kept them on all day.
It was easy to get used to the rolling action, and pushing your foot outwards is easy to get used to as well. It is something I had to keep telling myself to do but to be honest, these shoes do feel different to wear, and though your unable to actually fall over in them, they are unstable. So reminding yourself about walking with the pressure pointing outwards is not hard, you end up doing it automatic so as not to get your knees knocking together! The rolling action becomes the norm to and taking them off feels, well... so flat!! (and short!)
I wore these day in day out for about 2 weeks before the blisters got really too bad: I had bought the rightly fitting pair, they felt fine, the assistant at Sweaty Betty checked out my toes, they were in the right place, the problem was with the actual shoe.
Now I had wanted to show everyone a picture, I even selected one to put up when I suggested this product to dooyoo, but they put up the page for me and decided the above picture looked prettier. So I will have to describe them for you.
I bought a pair that were from the Autumn/Winter collection, the material was more dense and firm so they would be able to deal with the elements. My pair were grey and had a curved label running from the upper heel down to the centre on the outside and instep of the foot. They look OK. I bought them as they were in the sale, there's no way I will pay £159 (the original price) for shoes, even if they do say they will help me loose weight!
After 2 weeks, I got blisters. OK they didn't suddenly appear- they did build, I did ignore them and they got worse. The problem was that with most shoes I wear, I assume they are just moulding to my feet, as the shoes I choose, without even thing about it, are all leather. But MBT shoes- or the part at least that rubbed on me, were not leather. The part that touched my heel was plastic, albeit covered and padded in fabric. The end of one day, I had to stop my normal 2 hour walk, not because I was tired, but because my ankles were so sore from the rubbing, I had to take off my shoes. Now I don't want to appear a mad women walking home in bare foot, and especially not whilst walking down a very busy road at night when its dark where I am likely to tread in glass and anything else, so I sat on the tube, took my shoes off there and saw my feet so red and blistered, not just one, but around 4 blisters covered my feet, I tried plasters- the plasters for blisters were not big enough! Seriously!
I took my shoes back to Sweaty Betty, and the lady seemed really surprised as so many people said hoe comfortable they were. She picked up my shoe and said they did feel very firm. She then showed me a different pair from the Spring/Summer range and I squeezed at the heel, squeezing the opposite sides of the heel together, I felt too- much more give- they were as easy to move as trainers. In contradiction, my shoes at the heel did not move half as much, it was no wonder they rubbed my heel so much.
I did persevere, I was sure I could make them get better, £61 was a cheaper price for the shoe but still not cheap enough for me to write off. I tried plasters, I tried plasters over plasters, no difference, blister still built. I tried blister plasters, which filled with puss and then rolled off with the pressure of the rubbing. The only thing that helped was to wear very thick socks. This stopped the rubbing- and I also think my skin grew a little used to it and the blisters stopped forming.
The trouble with wearing thicker socks is that as soon as you enter a warm building -i.e. work, or the weather gets above 15 degrees, your feet get too warm and you start to idolise flip flops. So I have had to stop wearing these for now, its irritating as I can still get away with trainers as they only require thin socks, yet these because of the socks required can only be worn around 3 or 4 months in the year.
Verdict? Not all M.B.T shoes are the same, make sure you squeeze the heel- some are firmer then others and if you have fragile skin on your heels like me, it may be too much pain for you.
I would recommend these shoes for anyone who has posture issues. It is still possible to walk with poor posture, ignore all the instructions and stamp down the road, but perhaps the fact you look so strange in them and have paid upwards of £100 to a near £200 on the shoes will keep you focused on doing everything in your power to use them properly!
Always get them from a retailer- try them on, see if they fit and get instructions on how to stand and how to walk in them., as well as the option to take them back if they do not feel OK (unless they are in the sale.) You do not get this from E bay! They can make a difference to your posture but they are no substitution for real exercise. They will not raise your heart rate, so will not be able to burn calories, you may build up your muscles- I have to say I didn't really notice this, but I do a lot of exercise already, I am unlikely to really see a change like this if I am doing much more at my gym every visit. I am sure they defiantly build up your calves, but not so sure about your thighs, I think the weight of them may do this to an extent, but the bulk of the muscle pulling up the shoes seem to be in the calves so this is where the muscles will build above anywhere else.
Shoes to help you walk correctly and improve core strength and posture. These shoes are available in trainers or sandals, the sandals aren't very attractive though. Ranging from £70 to about £170 they don't come cheap either!
Most places online do not actually sell them online as they prefer you to go for a fitting, learn the correct way to walk and get used to them a bit in the shop. They must fit snugly so some people need a size smaller than they normally wear, if your feet are sliding about in them you will not be walking correctly, you'll be bunching your toes up to grip the shoes.
Walking in these shoes requires a proper roll over the foot, no swinging from the hip and pronating like so many of us do which does not use the glute max. In the modern world so many people have underused glute max muscles which lead to back problems due to a lack of support of the pelvis by the glutes and tight back muscles, hamstrings and hip flexors. So these trainers should address the problem, as long as you walk correctly.
Walking in them is odd to start with, you feel strange rolling over the foot in what seems like an exaggerated gait. But they are comfortable, you feel like your feet are cushioned and it's the "new trainer walking on air" sensation.
Initially you wear them for a few bursts throughout the day and build up to all day. They are essentially exercise equipment built into a shoe so the longer you wear them the more exercise you are doing (as long as you're walking and not just sitting down showing them off!).
After wearing mine I had some stiffness in my legs. This concerned me as I'm already hamstring dominant (hamstrings contract to extend the hip before the glute max which is wrong) so the last thing I needed was more hamstring strength. I had a bit more glute activity but the post-exercise feeling in the muscles pointed towards more hamstring work.
I searched online and although I can't remember the exact figures (or find it again in amongst all the rubbish that comes up) the percentage of increased muscular activity was highest for the hamstrings. That's not ideal unless you have weak hamstrings.
So if you're aiming to target the glutes with these and you have overactive hamstrings (very common) these are probably not a good idea. Increasing the imbalance will just worsen the situation. If you don't have much strength/activity difference between the glutes and hamstrings you'd be fine with these but make sure you check this out before spending that amount of money on a pair of MBTs. In the shop where they allegedly teach you how to wear and walk in these they will not be looking for that kind of detail.
Overall, these can be helpful and are comfortable but know your muscles before you commit.
Masai Barefoot Technology is used as a sports training and rehab device: many professional athletes rely on MBTs for recuperation, prevention and accelerated healing of injuries and in endurance and coordination training.