By Kat Lieu, DPT
For a year and a half, I have been faithful to my many pairs of MBTs, wearing them at work, transferring patients, walking long hallways and up and down stairs. On the weekends, however, I like to wear boots and flat shoes. I must say that the transition is tough on my feet. I get tibialis anterior pain– pain in the muscles in the shin. I also find it hard to walk in regular shoes. It’s true, MBTs are addictive. Once you start wearing them, I’m sure it’s a lifelong commitment.
Now what I have noticed is that though my hamstrings are nice and firm, along with my butt slightly raised, my calves have become larger due to the constant and subtle plantarflexion I perform at the ankles (rocking back and forth). I have also noticed that at times, like after a night of dancing, I have some achilles tendon inflammation. It is imperative to remember to stretch on a daily basis (calf stretches) if you wear MBTs all day long and five days a week like I do. Otherwise, you will have achilles tendonitis. For those of you who don’t know what the achilles tendon is, it’s the tendon behind your foot, right on top of the heel, otherwise known as the heel-cord.
Also, don’t buy the claims about any of these shoes (easy tones, sketchers shape ups and MBTs) helping you lose weight. The only way you can lose weight is by regulating your diet and exercising regularly, along with avoid excessive calories and fatty, sweet junk food. These shoes may in fact pack on some weight from the lean muscles you will develop in your legs. So MBTs stating: “A gift for those who want to leave their holiday pounds behind…” is faulty. Merely wearing these shoes everyday will not melt away any fat or pounds!
Many of my patients have asked me if MBTs and other similar shoes are suitable for them. I suggest people with poor balance to not wear these shoes, along with people with vestibular problems, recent leg surgeries, and excessive obesity– these shoes were designed for people with a “norm-typed” center of gravity and “average-weight.” These shoes have great potential in the athletic and rehab field I believe.
With the softened heel, ground reaction forces are decreased, hence there is less stress on the knee and ankle joints and even the hip when one runs or jogs. I find myself running and jogging much faster in these shoes. Also, I do believe my ankles are stronger from these shoes– I have painful posterior tendon syndrome along with split navicular bones in both my feet. However, there have been nights that I have danced for hours nonstop and the next day, I don’t experience pain!
I can say I have a sort of obsession for these shoes, because they really have enhanced my quality of life and I have used orthotics for my flat feet for a year and a half. Now if only MBTs can make their shoes a bit more stylish, less clunky, and less expensive, they they would be perfect and “normal, healthy individuals with good balance” should all try a pair!
Especially short men– now you have an excuse to be at least two inches taller with these shoes!
(My dream pair of MBTs are the new Goti Black leather boots. Should I splurge on these shoes or buy my long-awaited beloved PS3? You’d think a Doctor of Physical Therapy would make more than the scant amount I make, sniffles.)