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Can Those Negative Heel Shoes Really Help You Lose Fat?

Updated on December 10, 2011

Can these negative heel shoes help you walk away fat?

Maybe they can. I’ve seen some surprising results with a brand unknown in the US. See the photo below for the shoes that work for me. I purchased them when I was living in S. Korea.

What are these negative heel shoes?

By now most people are familiar with those negative heel shoes that are supposed to help you lose weight and fat - just by wearing them. So far the most popular ones are the Swiss brand known as MBT; they are engineered to make you feel like you are walking barefoot in the sand - like the Maasai people of Kenya. A MBT salesperson told me that the shoes will boost muscle activity in legs, decrease stress on knees and hip joints - and by engaging more muscles I'll burn more calories. And - I'd need to watch a video to learn how to walk in them.

What about price?

I wanted to try these sneakers/shoes as I am a distance walker - but the price tag was a turn off. Everywhere I checked - they were running about $250.00. So I kept putting it off. Then the Swiss introduced another shoe known as the SpringBoost - designed to always have your heel lower than the ball of your foot and therefore it naturally engages more muscle fiber. They are nearly half the price of MBT - but still kind of expensive for me to just test out.

Here's my personal experience with a Korean brand

However, a few years ago, while living in Seoul, I happened to be in an Emart superstore and passed a Korean version of these shoes on display (see photos below). A video was playing a most convincing short movie about all the benefits which are like the MBT.

So I asked myself - will they improve posture?

I have no back problems so that was not a concern - perhaps I can prevent the problems then

Will they tone and strengthen my legs, abdominals and buttocks just by walking in them?

For the sale price of about $69.00, I decided I would try a black pair. I took them home and couldn’t wait to lace them up.

Immediately, I staggered around a bit but I did notice that I straightened up instantly - it felt good. Once outside in the street I did find myself feeling a bit off balance. But it only took a couple days for me to get used to them.

Are my thighs firmer? I think so. But what about weight loss? Probably. But not because of anything that the shoes are doing. I think it is because I can walk miles in these shoes with absolutely no discomfort, no tired legs, no achy feet or arches - I can't do that with regular sneakers or shoes. Just being able to walk comfortably for miles I suspect it what led to the improvement in muscle tone and the slight weight loss. I'm a city person and like to walk everywhere - these shoes allow me to walk for miles - comfortably.

They are addictive too. I simply cannot imagine not wearing these and wearing traditional sneakers - there is no comparison to comfort. After about 2 ½ years the shoes are beginning to show some wear but I do not know where to buy the Korean version in the USA.

Fast forward to a year in NYC wearing the shoes

Surprisingly, I have noticed muscles on the sides of my legs where I never, ever had muscle before - so I can honestly vouch for these shoes. Now, that they are a bit worn and I do not wear them all the time, this side muscle has decreased noticeably.

Recently I read about a new shoe called Fit Flops (and flip flops are my favorite shoe!) that run about $50.00. Very popular in the UK and a recent (and constantly sold out) item here. These shoes are supposed to activate what is called slow-twitch muscles - which is what gives long distance runners their long lean muscles.

Maybe I will try the Fit Flops in the summer of 2012 and write an update.

Korean Health Walkers

side view
side view | Source
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side view


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    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thanks for sharing that information. I've heard about the hip replacement recalls - what a horror. For anyone that has pain, I do hope this helps. The shoes have certainly built muscles where I can see and maybe where I cannot.

    • profile image

      DePuy Pinnacle recall 7 years ago

      The benefits of negative heel shoes towards weight loss is good to know, especially for those with defective Pinnacle hip replacements who may want to ease their pain with more comfortable shoes and improve overall health. Thanks for sharing!

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thanks so much Kim for that tip - the price is right. I even get this catalogue from Sierra in the mail. I'll look into it and I'm in the market for replacing what I have.

      Thanks again! This is a great help!

    • profile image

      Kim 8 years ago

      You could pick up great deals at Sierra Trading Post. I've bought Springboost sneakers for $38 and Earth Sandals for $45, both these brands using different versions of the negative heel technology. I even saw MBT for £50 at Lilywhites last time I was in UK.

      So the prices for these healthy shoes are coming down.

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thanks for your informative comment! Other readers will benefit greatly.

      In fact if Americans walked properly, we'd be able to walk on icy sidewalks - as the people in S. Korea do. Yet, we fall and unfortunately are taught by doctors here to walk by striking our heels first. We continue to do this even though it rattles our entire skeletal system.

      By changing the way I walk (thanks to what I have learned from this negative heel concept) I can now bring my foot down differently and walk on ice without fear of falling. We have to relearn how we put our feet down on the ground.

      I can vouch for the fact that these shoes helped me gain muscle on my legs where I never had muscle before and muscle certainly helps burn fat.

      Thanks again!

    • Gr8legs profile image

      Gr8legs 8 years ago

      My background is in fitness, with a bachelor's degree in sport science and honours in biomechanics, so I'll talk a little about the basics of exercise & weight loss, then about walking.

      When it comes to fat-loss the immutable truth is that, irrespective of the misinformation put out by the infomercials and nutriceutical companies, it is entirely dependent on energy balance; if energy output exceeds energy input you will lose weight & vice versa.

      The problems a lot of people have with walking for exercise come from two main areas:

      1. Inappropriate footwear (many wear the same old trainers they've had for years & no longer offer support or cushioning)

      2. Poor walking technique.

      Beginning with the technique, let's look at the mechanics of walking:

      • Heel strike is (obviously) the act of making contact with the ground. At this point the ankle joint is in a dorsi-flexed position; that is, the foot is pulled back towards the shin.

      • Footfall happens with a change in the position of the ankle joint to a partly plantar-flexed position; the pointing of the foot downwards.

      • Swing through draws the leg rearwards and extends the hip joint; this engages the hamstrings & gluteal (butt) muscles.

      • Drive-off occurs with the full extension of the hip joint, knee extension (working the quads at the front of the thigh) and finally, dorsi-flexion at ankle (driven by the calves).

      • Recovery occurs as the leg moves forward again in readiness to repeat the process; during this phase the ankle will once again dorsi-flex in readiness for heel strike.

      Now, here’s the crux of the matter. Post-exercise muscle soreness (known in the fitness industry as DOMS – delayed onset muscle soreness) is associated with eccentric muscle contraction; this is when the muscle lengthens under tension, when the muscle is controlling a lowering action; e.g. when sitting down from a standing position, it is eccentric contraction of the thigh & butt muscles that stop your butt from hitting the seat with a bang!

      Referring back to the transition from heel strike to foot fall, the tibialis anterior muscle – located on the front of the shin contracts eccentrically to control this action. When someone who is not used to walking (or running) for any distance begins to do so, they may experience DOMS in their tibialis anterior; this is often mistaken for shin splints, which is a repetitive strain injury associated with long-term high impact exercise. The soreness in the shins is further exacerbated by the fact that, when trying to walk quickly, many people do not complete the drive-off and so hold their foot in a dorsi-flexed position from mid-way through the swing-through right up until heel strike; contracting the tibialis anterior isometrically (contraction without movement).

      Isometric contraction causes rapid fatiguing of the muscles and so, as a result of a combination of this unnecessary isometric contraction of tibialis anterior, along with the repeated eccentric contraction of the same muscle, they will experience soreness in their shins both during and after walking. This is somewhat off-putting and they stop walking for exercise.

      What these “Negative Heel”-type shoes do – amongst other things – is to encourage a walking action that is biomechanically correct.

      So, in closing , the answer is “Yes!” they will help people lose fat, insofar that it would help encourage those who might not otherwise do so to persist with a walking-for-exercise regime.

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      And the prices haven't come down Jewels!

      Here in NYC I stopped two friends wearing the 'Sketcher's' brand version - and they both said the sneakers make their pinky toes hurt. Weird! But if two say the say thing it makes me think the cut is wrong. Of course sometimes when we get sneakers the sizing is different. In S. Korea I picked the wrong size but the clerk brought me a pair that was actually 2 sizes smaller (????). With MBT you will get a custom fitter - we need this!

      Thanks for checking back. Great avatar by the way!

    • Jewels profile image

      Jewels 8 years ago from Australia

      Ridiculously high. I only have one pair and to be honest I won't get more until they reduce. So the alternatives are what I'm after.

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thanks for the MBT information Jewels. I was so sold on them but the prices are soooo high! Maybe I can try their summer versions. I can walk forever in my Korean Health Walkers and I love that muscle has developed on my outer calves - love it!

      Thanks for the input and recommendation - these shoes do make a difference!

    • Jewels profile image

      Jewels 8 years ago from Australia

      Ahhhh, good to see a cheaper pair. I loved the MBT's and I will hunt these down. They push my pelvis forward and align my spine and I feel really good walking what feels like the 'right' way.

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Hello theherbivorehippi - since I wrote this hub I have been regularly wearing these - as I walk a lot through the City - and I have to say, I have toned muscles on the outer calves - something I have never ever ever had before - there is more definition there. I am absolutely amazed! It may take time to see results but I see them. Also my weight seems to have stabilized. I will look for a summer flipflip type and certainly try this type again! So it seems like some muscle building has taken place - and muscle is supposed to burn more calories. I am soooo satisfied!!!!!

    • theherbivorehippi profile image

      theherbivorehippi 8 years ago from Holly, MI

      I am so glad you wrote about this! I have the fitflops and I love them. I wear them around the house all the time (well when it's warmer...right now I wear warm fuzzy slippers) but I've been wanting to try the athletic shoes but didn't know how really comfortable they are. I've only been really drawn to them recently when I keep seeing the Reebok commercial and the girl has the best butt and legs I've ever seen! I'm a runner and I still am not that toned....I think I'm going to try these shoes now! Thanks for writing!

    • profile image

      6inchboot 8 years ago

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Discount shoes - you're right - there is no short cut to weightloss and good health - but being able to walk distances w/o pain helps tone my body.

      And price comparison site UK -

      They are amazing - in fact I wore mine and walked to work - 4 miles - this over a 3 month period - and for the first time I can recall I feel new muscle down the side of my legs. I think because women tend to wear heels it makes our legs very straight (a kind of stick shape) on the sides and gives a little muscle in the back. When cool weather returns I will wear them again - I never get tired.

      Thanks for writing!

    • profile image

      Price Comparison Site UK 8 years ago

      I want one of these! They look very comfortable to wear, especially for the winder season in UK.

    • profile image

      discount shoes 9 years ago

      maybe if you walk 10 miles a day in them you could but I think weight loss takes more than a special shoe . A good diet always wins doesn't it

    • profile image

      Carolyn 9 years ago

      Thanks Lou! I think they'd look great with a bikini!

    • profile image

      lou 9 years ago

      Those shoes will not match any in my wardrobe, so therefore, i will continue not to eat to loose weight...smiles

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 9 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Hi T. C. - and it did take a bit of getting used to - I kept feeling off balance - but no more! If they do nothing else they allow me to walk in comfort for miles.

      Another plus too, it is icy here in NYC and I walk on ice with these shoes without slipping. Probably has to do with balance again. Hmmm.

      Thanks for keeping in touch!

    • The Communicator profile image

      The Communicator 9 years ago from Germany

      Hey, Bk,

      Just wanted to let you know that I enjoyed your article! Being a trained physical therapist, I can only second the idea of added comfort and better health using that method. A word of caution maybe: For those totally untrained, it may take some initial stretching exercises and getting used to.

      Alright then, another one of your hubs off the press...! :-)


      T. C.


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