MBT Shoes: A Revolutionary Approach to Footwear

Published: 18th April 2011
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Human beings have been wearing shoes for a very long time. Their basic function is to protect the foot from cuts, scrapes and more serious injuries. Additionally, shoes are often worn for decorative or activity-specific purposes. Athletic footwear is a multi-billion-dollar industry in the United States, as is designer footwear.

The History

The first shoes were sandals that date back nearly ten thousand years. Because they were designed to protect the feet from jagged rocks and rough terrain, the material of choice had to be tough. Leather and other animal hides were often used in early footwear. But shoes were not worn by most human beings until recently, when synthetic materials made them more affordable. More surprising still is that these discalced individuals rarely suffered major foot injuries. Tough calluses and years of evolution helped them build up and protect the bones in their feet.

Western man often assumes he has all the answers. But it is not uncommon for him to learn things from less "advanced" cultures. In this article we will discuss MBT shoes and the impact they have had on a changing marketplace.

The original shoe was developed by Karl Muller, a Swiss engineer. Like most great ideas, it was the result of selfishness. That is, the designer had a personal problem he wanted to solve for himself. Like millions of men around the world, Karl Muller had knee problems. But on a sojourn in Korea, he discovered that his pain was drastically reduced when he walked on a soft surface, like grass or sand, in his bare feet. His inquisitive and scientific mind could not rest until he discovered exactly why this was.

His investigations lead him to an African tribe called the Masai (or Maasai). According to anthropologists who had lived with and studied the Masai people, they did not wear shoes. They also happened to have nearly perfect posture, which meant that they rarely suffered from back or joint pain. The only logical conclusion was that modern footwear inhibits our ability to attain perfect posture.

Inspired by his simple discovery, Muller developed a shoe that would simulate walking barefoot on soft earth. As a former athlete, he knew the shoe had to protect the feet, but also that it had to present a bit of a challenge, since walking without shoes requires more energy. His shoe design was call the rocker sole shoe because it had a thick, rounded sole. It has many imitators and recent reports estimate that as many as 200,000 pairs have been sold since they were first offered in American in the mid 1990s.

What are the Benefits?

While the focus of MBT shoes has always been on helping people improve their posture, the shoes have received quite a bit of buzz due to their other potential health benefits. In particular, many experts claim MBT shoes can help users shed pounds and tone their leg muscles while they walk. The reasoning behind this is quite simple. Because they are designed to simulate walking barefoot on soft surfaces, they are more challenging to use than regular walking shoes, i.e., they burn more calories. Of course, they cannot be worn like traditional athletic shoes. Their basic design precludes rapid movement. But since most Americans walk a lot more than they run, it makes sense that they should invest in a device that helps them multitask.

Yes, MBT shoes really can help you get a workout as you walk around the office, in the supermarket or at home. The curved shoe can help you strengthen your calves, thighs, buttocks and even your core. They can also improve your posture over time and reduce the risk of serious joint and back injuries.

Some experts have compared MBT shoes to the funny-looking platform shoes some athletes use to increase their vertical jumping ability by strengthening their calves. That comparison may, in fact, have merit. But remember that the rocker sole shoe was not created as an athletic training device. It was developed to improve posture and reduce the risk of joint and back pain. The fact that it also offers its users a bit of a workout is an unexpected added benefit.

However, it is this benefit that has attracted dozens of celebrities to MBT shoes. Actors, musicians and Olympic athletes have all used them to help them tone up and even to train. There is no doubt that the shoes look a little odd, but they are not designed to be worn all of the time. Most people put them on when they want a workout and they simply don't have time to exercise.

MBT shoes can increase circulation, increase muscle activity, improve posture and reduce muscular tension in the back and legs. Find your favorite pair now and start reaping the benefits!

Mike Cole is a freelance writer who writes about a variety of topics and brands such as MBT Shoes.

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