by Kat Lieu, DPT
I should seriously be a poster-girl for MBTs. I’ve worn different pairs of MBTs since May 2008 and since then, I’ve been a fan and a promoter of these “anti-shoes.” I’ve also recommended dozens of people to buy and love these shoes– and they don’t come cheap, 200 plus bucks a pair. Right now I have four pairs and they look clunky, like orthopaedic shoes made for people with diabetic neuropathy. But who cares if I look unfashionable– I can’t wear any other shoes without experiencing ankle pain the next day since I stand all day at work. I’ve jogged, ran, transferred patients, and carried things with these shoes sans problems. You seriously can sprint faster with these shoes and have less strain on your joints because of the thick heel cushion that decrease ground reaction forces.
They’re not pretty like Sketcher’s shapeups or Reebok Easytones, but in my honest opinion, mechanically, they are the most effective of all the “anti-shoes” out there. Since they’re more expensive, the material is better– the heels don’t wear out as fast.
As long as a person has stability and ankle strength (along with no vestibular/balance and weakness problems, like for instance you just had a knee replacement), you can try these shoes, exercise, walk up stairs, and jog in them. I don’t suggest you running down the stairs in them, especially on rainy days because you will slip, tumble, and possibly break your crown. But I digress.
Back to preventing varicose veins with MBTs or an anti-gravity shoe. Varicose veins occur when the venous valves in your legs are malfunctioning– they swell up and look ugly. Wearing these shoes promote ankle pumping action, leading to the muscles in your calves activating the valves. With the valves functioning properly, edema and swelling go down as the liquids in your body are circulated back through your veins and lymphatic system to go through the heart and other organs to be filtered. MBTs force you to perform heel strike and toe off with each step, along with subtle activation of the soleus and gastrocnemius muscles of the calves (the ankle plantarflexors), leading to a good workout for the valves in your legs. So they prevent swelling and varicose veins, possibly as effective as compression stockings. And when you wear them, you get your legs to work out. But this does not mean you will lose weight. Having worn these shoes religiously for over a year, I’ve maintained the same weight.
Will I ever consider wearing Reeboks or Sketchers? Only if they thicken their bumpers. I had high hopes for the EasyTones but after studying them in my hands, I still think MBTs are the most effective shoes in leg toning, posture correcting, vestibular system stimulating, and leg varicose veins/swelling prevention. Kudos, MBTs. Now when are you sending your biggest fan free pairs? 🙂