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The MBT Anti Shoe - Getting Back to the Benefits of Being Barefoot

Updated on March 31, 2012

The Anti Shoe

MBT Posture correcting shoes
MBT Posture correcting shoes

The Anti Shoe by MBT

MBT are anti shoes. This, it has to be said, is rather strange for a shoe manufacturer. The Swiss anti-shoe company was set up in 1995 and has been producing a range of shoes which feature some quite unshoelike properties.

Shoe be or not shoe be – Time to return to barefoot walking?

The Scholl Pescura heelwas the original exercise sandal and toning shoes, however MBT shoes were the first physiologically designed shoes. Called Anti Shoes, their range takes shoe design both backwards and forwards. The advanced technology which went into their footwear in 1995 was ahead of its time however it returns the body to a more primitive barefoot walking style.

The founder of the company and creator of the anti-shoe discovered that whilst walking barefoot in soft mud, his foot pain was miraculously relieved, and so he set about recreating the concept in a line of shoes.,

The MBT Anti Shoe - Returns the body to a much healthier way of walking
The MBT Anti Shoe - Returns the body to a much healthier way of walking
The worlds oldest shoe. For over 5500 years man has been getting it all wrong
The worlds oldest shoe. For over 5500 years man has been getting it all wrong

The world’s oldest shoe has recently been discovered in Armenia, which is believed to be over 5500 years old.

Made long before the Pyramids of Egypt, and years before Stonehenge, the shoe demonstrates that man has been determined to get away from barefoot walking for some time. MBT Shoes offer a return to a barefoot walking style, however it is something that man has been quite keen to get away from.

As good as shoes are for giving protection, comfort and warmth they are fundamentally flawed. What is good for your feet is not quite so good for the rest of your body, and wearing shoes changes your walking gait and put your bones out of line.

The Anti Shoe way of walking

MBT Shoes correct the problems other shoes create
MBT Shoes correct the problems other shoes create

Problems of the shod

There are two main problems with shoes. Firstly, by wearing shoes the posture of the body is changed and the vertebrae of the spine are moved out of line. There is a tendency for the shoulders to hunch forward and shockwaves from walking travel up the body and the joints are required to absorb shocks whilst they are incorrectly aligned. With MBT shoes, the posture is corrected and the spine, legs, hips and feet are brought back into alignment allowing the joints to work as nature intended.

The second problem is that shoes make walking less efficient. More energy is wasted and the stride becomes a far from an efficient process. A heavy heel strike is promoted which exerts undue forces on the feet and joints, muscles become underutilised, and tension builds up in the neck and back.

The curved sole in MBT shoes eliminates these problems by creating a smooth rolling movement from heel to toe. The force of the heel strike is absorbed by EVA foam, and the foot is propelled naturally forward in an efficient rolling movement. Shockwaves from walking are eliminated, and the stress on the joints is greatly reduced. The muscles in the leg and buttocks are activated for longer, more core muscle groups get a workout and tension in the lower back and neck is reduced.

MBT Anti Shoes

Some of the Extensive MBT Anti Shoe footwear range
Some of the Extensive MBT Anti Shoe footwear range

Masai Barefoot Technology

The shoes owe their technical wizardry to the inclusion of Masai barefoot technology, which takes its name from the east African Masai Mara tribes. The lack of foot problems exhibited by the Masai is largely due to walking barefoot on soft surfaces, unlike in the west where the body is forced to walk on much harder ground. 

Walking barefoot in soft ground increases muscle usage and promotes a healthier walking style. MBT shoes incorporate the same style of walking using Masai Barefoot technology in the soles of the shoes, which mimics the same barefoot walking gait. The heel strike is cushioned, the bones of the feet are properly aligned and the posture is more upright with the spine straight and the shoulders back.

Shoes add stability to the naturally unstable process of walking. Walking is basically losing balance and recovering and this constant loss of balance and instability is the natural order. Standard shoes aim to reduce this instability whereas MBT shoes embrace it. The result is that the feet are allowed to roll naturally, the heel strike force is absorbed, muscles are activated to a much greater degree, and the blood circulation is boosted. Whether standing or walking, MBT shoes change your posture and make you stand up straighter and more upright which has a positive effect on your whole body.

MBT Anti shoes have been subjected to a wide range of medical studies, far more than any other toning shoe manufacturer. In addition to the original 1996 University of Calgary study, the shoes have been tested time and again and on each occasion their medical benefits have been reconfirmed.

Can I run in MBT Shoes?

At last - Posture correcting shoes for athletics
At last - Posture correcting shoes for athletics

MBT Athletic Anti Shoes

Whilst there is an extensive range of toning footwear on the market, there is a distinct lack of toning and posture correcting shoes which are recommended for jogging and running. Most toning shoes are designed for walking only, with Reebok Easytones the only notable exception. MBT correct this imbalance with their latest line of athletic anti shoes.

The athletic range features the same MBT rocker sole and Masai barefoot technology, however the shoes have been slimmed down and are 20% lighter, the lateral instability has been reduced to allow walking and running speed to be increased safely, and a free floating lace system has been added to keep the shoes firmly on the feet under the high stresses when moving at speed. A 3D mesh upper keeps the shoes light and breathable, and they can help reduce injury, speed up the recovery process, and help to develop strength and stamina in the legs.

MBT shoes correct all of the problems associated with standard shoes and offer the benefits of barefoot walking with the comfort of being shod, and help to eliminate joint and muscle pain from bad posture.

The Verdict on MBT Shoes

Toning Shoe Rating: 10/10

They are the original toning shoe and one of the best. MBT offer an extensive range of styles including sandals, shoes and trainers, and one of the most extensive ranges out of all of the orthopaedic shoe manufacturers. Their claims of posture enhancement, easing of pressure on the joints, and increases in muscle activity have the most scientific backing out of any of the toning shoe brands on the market. MBT shoes can help prevent musculoskeletal problems from developing, and will ease the symptoms if you already suffer from them. Whilst they are the most expensive of all of the toning shoe brands, this money translates into far superior build quality, and if you want a shoe which has been extensively tested through independent research then your money will go a long way with MBT.

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