Rocker Shoe Put to the Test

Rocker Shoe

MBT Shoe

Patients have been ask­ing me about the new rock­er bot­tom shoes.  So I want­ed to learn more about them myself.

MBTis the orig­i­nal brand using the rock­er bot­tom design.   That stands for “Masai Bare­foot Tech­nol­o­gy” – the con­cept is that the shoe mim­ics the pat­tern of gait that Masai peo­ple uti­lize in walk­ing on sand.

The MBT tech­nol­o­gy is delib­er­ate­ly designed to cre­ate an “unsta­ble” pat­tern of stand­ing or walk­ing.  That means that, instead of rigid­ly “lock­ing” into ver­ti­cal stance when wear­ing nor­mal shoes, you have to active­ly engage your mus­cles (and your bal­ance and coor­di­na­tion mech­a­nisms) while wear­ing the MBT shoes.

MBT makes some sig­nif­i­cant claims about their shoes – that your pos­ture will improve, you’ll acti­vate under­uti­lized mus­cles, reduce stress on your joints, and burn more ener­gy just in every­day walk­ing.  And their web­site lists a few rel­e­vant sci­en­tif­ic stud­ies that doc­u­ment at least some of these claims.

But before I could rec­om­mend them to my patients, I want­ed to feel the effects for myself.  So I wan­dered into my local “The Walk­ing Com­pa­ny” store to check them out.

They’re def­i­nite­ly dif­fer­ent.  As soon as I put them on I instant­ly stood and walked dif­fer­ent­ly (and prob­a­bly in a more phys­i­o­log­i­cal ide­al way.)   When stand­ing, my weight was shift­ed for­ward, since I was unable to rock my weight back onto my heels (there were no heels!)  That meant my align­ment was bet­ter, and I almost auto­mat­i­cal­ly engaged my abdom­i­nal mus­cles in a health­ful way.

I expect­ed that the MBT shoes wouldn’t allow for nor­mal foot move­ment – that the rock­er action would in effect sub­sti­tute for the phys­i­o­log­i­cal motion of the joints of the foot.  In fact, the effect was the exact oppo­site of what I expect­ed.  When I began to walk, I enjoyed the way my feet nat­u­ral­ly and ful­ly flowed through a nor­mal gait cycle.

I liked them.  Next, I’ll have to try them out in a real world sit­u­a­tion – stand­ing in them all day, or walk­ing for 3 — 4 miles.  But I liked them.

They’re expen­sive, at least for my bud­get.  But there are less expen­sive knock-offs.  Skech­ers Shape-Ups is one vari­a­tion.  Of course, at The Walk­ing Com­pa­ny the sales­clerk insist­ed that the patent­ed tech­nol­o­gy in the MBT shoe was much more effec­tive.  I can’t say if that’s true or not.

But I have con­fi­dence I can rec­om­mend them to patients – those with hip, knee, or low back prob­lems, or any­one who has to stand and walk a large part of the day.

Has any­body else had good results with the MBT’s or their rival brands?

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About Ronald Lavine, D.C.

Dr. Lavine has more than thirty years' experience helping patients alleviate pain and restore health using diverse, scientifically-based manual therapy and therapeutic exercise and alignment methods.

His website, askdrlavine.com, provides more information about his approach.

Please contact him at drlavine@yourbodyofknowledge.com or at 212-400-9663.

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