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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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November 04, 2010

The Inherent Absurdity of Barefoot Technology

By Mark Sisson
174 Comments

Vibram, Vivo Barefoot, Softstar, and the other shoe companies making an honest attempt at creating a viable shoe alternative aren’t the only entities capitalizing off the nascent barefoot trend sweeping the nation (and I’m not referring to podiatrists, as much as they like to claim barefoot running will create thousands of new patients). Several shoemakers have taken the barefoot ball and run the opposite direction – down the path of more shoe and more meddling into how the foot works – claiming to have improved upon the near-perfection of the naked human foot with (get this) bulky odd-looking shoes that weigh more than traditional running shoes.

Foremost is MBT, or Masai Barefoot Technology. MBT makes the “anti-shoe,” which is actually an unsteady, unstable shoe with a squishy, conspicuous “rocker” sole. The sole appears to be about 2 or 3 inches thick, and the instability is actually a feature. Yes, the most popular backed-by-internally-funded-science example of barefoot technology is a shoe that forces its wearers to teeter around. Sure, you gain a few inches, but at what cost? Without having tried them (and I honestly don’t plan to), the very notion of simulating barefoot walking by wearing big clunky shoes perplexes and confuses me. Talk about digging a hole to put the ladder in to wash the basement windows! Same goes for MBT’s claim of “natural instability” being the key to “recreating the barefoot experience.” Just what is so natural about being unsteady on your feet? I always figured feet were there to anchor us to the floor and provide stability. In fact, it’s that haptic perception (actually feeling the ground) in our bare feet that gives the brain the signals it needs to distribute shock effectively – tossed out the window now with MBT.

Then there are Skechers Shape-Ups, which are pretty similar to the MBTs: “rocker” sole, big wedge of material under the heel to “promote natural walking,” deliberate instability. They tighten abs, firm butts, and destroy cellulite. Armed with the Skechers Shape-Ups, folks can “get fit without stepping in a gym.” I’ll agree that a gym isn’t necessary for fitness, but strapping on a pair of magic non-shoes and standing there, or walking around the mall hoping for artificial instability to kick in won’t do it.

Bosu ball addicts have successfully integrated balls into many facets of everyday life. At the gym, they do squats, deadlifts, and bicep curls while balancing precariously on bosu balls; at the office, they sit on large balance balls instead of chairs; at night, they wrap their bodies around massive rubber spheres instead of beds. Locomotion was their white whale, though. They tried attaching handles to balance balls for easy bouncing to and fro, but they looked a bit too much like female bonobos in estrus (go ahead and Google that). Well, Reebok’s new(ish) EasyTone line of shoes slays the whale. They’ve actually installed three miniature balance balls into the sole of each shoe (I’m not making this up), allowing wearers to recreate the natural, evolutionary sensation of walking on inflated rubber balls.

This revolutionary barefoot technology, according to its hawkers, compels the wearer to move. Walking and exercising become almost passive acts; the shoes apparently propel you down the street. All you’ve gotta do is be carried away on a couple of foot clouds. Heck, even standing at rest in these babies is a constant, imperceptibly effective workout for your entire body. Who needs to consciously work out anymore?

Maybe the absurdity of barefoot technology isn’t evident to everyone, though. Condemning a non-shoe that’s actually a shoe for claiming to recreate the barefoot experience seems “reasonable”, but it’s always good to back arguments up with empirical data. And all the barefoot tech peddlers claim to have research supporting their products, so it’s only fair that we on the “nay” side also use research.

The American Council on Exercise, a non-profit fitness certification organization, recently put the claims of MBT, Skechers, and Reebok to the test and released the results (PDF) to the public. It should be noted that though the ACE is a non-profit, their continued existence depends on the certification of trainers that would be out of a job if the shoemakers’ “get fit without trying” claims were true, so I can see where some hackles about bias could be raised. Regardless, let’s check out their findings.

ACE conducted two studies. The first subjected 12 active women to twelve 5-minute treadmill trials at varying intensities while wearing different shoes (MBTs, Skechers Shape-Ups, EasyTones, New Balance runners). Each woman tried each shoe three times: a 5-minute, 3 MPH walk at 0% grade; a 5-minute, 3.5 MPH walk at 0% grade; and a 5-minute, 3.5 MPH walk at 5% grade. Oxygen consumption, heart rate, perceived exertion rating (RPE), and caloric expenditure were all monitored.

While all values increased across the board in response to increased work intensity, no significant differences were found in response to the different shoes. They all performed about equally.

The second study had a similar initial set-up – 12 active women, the same four shoe choices, the same 12 treadmill trials at the same intensities – but a different focus. Instead of measuring exercise output, this study examined specific muscular responses. Electrodes were hooked up to measure EMG activity in the gastrocnemius (or calf muscle), the rectus femoris (quadriceps muscle), the biceps femoris, the gluteus maxiumus, the erector spinae (back muscles), and the rectus abdominus (abs). An initial test was run to determine the EMG in response to a maximum voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC); the study would use EMG recordings from the treadmill trials and compare them to the MVIC EMG.

There was no significant difference in muscle EMG activity across different shoe types. EMG activity increased in response to the increasing intensity of the treadmill trials, as is to be expected. ACE’s ultimate conclusion follows thusly: “There is simply no evidence to support the claims that these shoes will help wearers exercise more intensely, burn more calories or improve muscle strength and tone.”

The shoe companies counter with their own internally-funded studies. Here are Skechers’, Reebok’s, and MBT’s research.

All parties obviously set out to prove their point. ACE may have a dog in the fight, however convoluted it might be, and they ran a fairly limited study (small sample size, short duration), while the shoe companies have the obvious objective to sell more shoes and justify it by funding their own research. I’m immediately skeptical of industry-funded research that also happens to support the industry’s product, but that’s completely natural.

My take? I just find it all absurd, to be honest; a battle over which is the lesser of two evils. It’s like those studies purporting to show the benefits of “healthy” whole grains by pitting them against refined, processed grains. Or the study that showed ankle taping provides better ankle stability in people who wear athletic footwear, while completely glossing over the fact that athletes wearing no shoes and no tape performed best and evinced the highest level of foot position awareness (the key determinant in susceptibility to ankle sprains). Neither choice is optimal.

The standard running shoe (New Balance) performed similarly to the fancy barefoot tech. What can we glean from this? What does this say about the necessity of any footwear, let alone barefoot technology? You’ve got two bare feet at your disposal, and I think people should begin learning how to use them before giving up and relying on “barefoot technology” to save them.

Have you tried MBTs or copy cat barefoot/toning shoes? Share your thoughts in the comment board. Grok on!

Photo Credit: MBT

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174 Comments on "The Inherent Absurdity of Barefoot Technology"

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Adam W
Adam W
5 years 10 months ago

Hi Mark,
Great article that I completely agree with; I begged my wife not to get those ridiculous EasyTone shoes and finally she caved. I love minimalist shoes and own Vibram KSOs and New Balance MT101s. (these are a thin trail runner, and inexpensive)

However, I do have to say that the title of the article appears to attack those minimalist shoes that do try to just let the foot work as intended. I was very confused when I saw that in my RSS reader; just FYI.

rob
rob
5 years 10 months ago

Re the title, I thought the exact same thing when I saw it, thought it would be about Nike Free

Kevin
Kevin
5 years 10 months ago
When I saw this I thought “Oh no, not my MBT’s!” I have MBT’s, and I really like them. My favorite ‘shoes’ are my vibrams, second the MBT’s. I almost never wear my regular shoes, unless I’m playing basketball. Though I’d like to try out Vibrams some time. MBT’s help me with knee and back pain that I experience when wearing normal shoes (I created a standing work station so this is important). Toe shoes are also not allowed in my business setting (rule was put in place after I showed them off during a meeting – someone was offended).… Read more »
CNYmicaa
CNYmicaa
5 years 10 months ago
Thanks Kevin, for a good word about these style shoes. I too have a great deal of back pain from 12 hrs shifts on hard floors as a nurse, on my feet all the time. I was considering a career change, having tried nursing shoes, minimalist shoes, and various sneakers to no avail. Finally I tried the Sketcher’s Shape Ups. MY BACK DOESN’T HURT! I love that~~! True they are ugly (but so are Vibrams) but I don’t want to buy stock in Ibuprofen companies either. This is my second pair, and I will continue to use this style for… Read more »
musajen
musajen
5 years 10 months ago

Ditto on the title. Judging from it, I thought you were going to go after Vibrams and the like.

I was like, “woh, did Mark stubb his toe in his Vibrams?”

Kelly
Kelly
5 years 10 months ago

Same! I was shocked to see that title.

Daniel
Daniel
5 years 10 months ago
Janelle R.
Janelle R.
3 years 30 days ago
My Chiropractor told me about MBTs today, so I was checking it out. Found this article, Dr. Roger would disagree with you. He has worn his pair for some five years for work. His only complaint was his more formal pair disintegrating in the heel with non-use, and the pair he uses for work is still in great condition. He was showing me the firmness of the sole compared to some new ones I bought. His recommendation was the MBT. Looks like good to find them on sale at a reasonable price rather than the suggested retail price.
Kev
Kev
5 years 10 months ago

I tried the MBT for planter fasciitis, didn’t work at all maybe made things worse. This really did help http://www.marksdailyapple.com/flat-feet-treatment/

Cara
5 years 10 months ago

I thought fancy shoes that would tone were interesting, until I saw the price tag 🙂 Regular shoes work for me and the kids, and when mine are babies they get the little leather flexible shoes to protect them from the cold as needed.

Barefoot would be great, if it weren’t for the glass on the streets and freezing cold winters!

David Grim
5 years 10 months ago

Doesn’t Reebok have some sort of shoe with that big heel? The zigzag or something like that? My vibrams are fine but outdoors in the winter in MN is a no-go.

David

Barefoot Paul
Barefoot Paul
5 years 10 months ago

why not man? I walk around campus here in Iowa barefoot through most of the winter. I wear slide sandals on the really cold day, and take them off when i get to class.

fitmom
fitmom
5 years 10 months ago

Agreed that the title was confusing. I love my Vibrams; moving is a totally different experience. I can go “barefoot” on city streets and muddy cold trails, with INCREASED stability.

It would be laughable to immobilize your bicep and cushion it from impact to strengthen it….why then do we immobilize and cushion our arches and feet?

Michael
Michael
5 years 10 months ago
Just a quick note, again. I think you’ve gotten rocker-shoes kinda wrong. I doubt their idea is “to be unstable” rather than to provide a natural base for us to walk on no matter where we are. Or are you telling me humans were designed to walk on concrete? I think the Maasais walk on soft/semi-hard surface most of their lives. This is why their joints don’t get the treatment ours do: We’re children of the concrete jungle. Good or bad? You decide. I’ll keep wearing my rocker-shoes (which are not MBT, by the way) when I walk around the… Read more »
Armaan
Armaan
5 years 10 months ago

I have zero problem walking and running barefoot over the hardest of surfaces and have only been doing it for about three months. Join problems have very little to do with the surface that you land on and everything to do with the way that you land on it.

My limiting factor so far has been the weakness in my feet which have been atrophied through many years of being shod. My joints have been happy from day one.

Karen Liwoch
Karen Liwoch
5 years 10 months ago

I agree. When I ‘need’ shoes for Corporate ‘life,’ the rounded sole is more comfortable than the flop and slap of flat shoes.

Mademoiselle
Mademoiselle
5 years 10 months ago

I’ve always found both the concept and design of these kinds of shoes to be absolutely ridiculous.

It was quite sad for me to see Skechers go this route as they do make a number of comfortable, thin/flexible-soled everyday (unless you’re wearing a suit) shoes. They’ve been my go-to for a while now.

Mlkrone
5 years 10 months ago
My girlfriend has a pair of the Reebok easytones. She’s one of those people that really doesn’t like feet (silly, I know). So there was no chance at convincing her to try some barefooting with me. Within a month one of the Balls in the left foot popped!! She called and e-mailed and they basically told her she was S.O.L. So aside from disliking these products, I also dislike their business practice. I look forward to getting a pair of VFFs or other good minimalist shoes for daily life. But all of my exercise and running will be strictly in… Read more »
Robert
5 years 10 months ago

I read somewhere that someone has made a shoe to even help sooth the menstrual pains?????????? May have been on Chris Mcdougalls blog?

Nelly
5 years 10 months ago

…WHAT.

Link if you have it, please. This I just HAVE to see for myself.

My incredulity aside, if something like that were satisfactorily proven to work, I’d eat cereal for six months to afford a pair, paleo/primal be damned.

Rachel
5 years 10 months ago

Nah, it just has foam that changes shape depending on your hormones. Just like the rest of you, your foot is different at different times. A changing shoe is a nifty idea, but it means increased support instead of less, which isn’t what I want my shoe to do.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1249982/Running-shoe-women-adjusts-according-time-month.html

Robert
5 years 10 months ago

This is the article I was referring to From the Blog site for Christopher McDougall, author of “Born to Run”

http://chrismcdougall.com/blog/2010/02/menstrual-controlled-running-shoes-new-from-asics/

Amanda
Amanda
5 years 10 months ago

From what I have read about rocker-shoes, their exact idea is “to be unstable”. In fact “Unstable rocker shoes are designed to induce instability in all planes of motion”, this is describing the two types of rocker-shoe: Unstable and Stable. A quick warning from Total Relief Footwear states: “If you have problems with vertigo or dizziness, for example, a rocker sole shoe may not be appropriate.” I don’t think there is anything natural about getting motion sickness from walking.

Primal_Joe
Primal_Joe
5 years 10 months ago

I laugh every time I walk into a store and see those shoes! I was wondering when this topic would come up here! Nice post Mark!

Tomasz
Tomasz
5 years 10 months ago

Michael, when you are walking or running barefoot, concrete is not a big problem. You learn to naturally eliminate the shock by landing on your forefoot, bending your knees and making quicker, smaller steps. Personal experience: when I was beginning to run barefoot I was often compelled to touch the concrete sidewalk with my hand – apparently my brain was convinced that it is soft! Now when I am running barefoot (not so often since following PB), I actually prefer hard surfaces.

See Dan Lieberman’s study on impact forces in shod/barefoot running.

Michael
Michael
5 years 10 months ago
Thanks for the information, I’ll look at Lieberman’s study. I’m adamant on my view, though. When you run on sand or grass it is more unstable to run than on concrete. Also, I’ve walked around our capital for about 8 hours in the rockers and experienced no pain whatsoever (literally, I only stopped once after 5 hours to eat a salad). Having done the same next month in the summer with the vibrams (that I’d already been walking in for over a year) I developed a crazy inflammation on the big-toe joint due to exactly this forefoot mechanism. Also, walking… Read more »
Paul C
5 years 10 months ago

I second Tomasz. Concrete is one of my favorite surfaces for bare feet. Hard and smooth is nice, whether it be dirt or concrete. Polling my group of barefoot walkers/runners, concrete is near the top for 100% of those polled (three people 😉 ).

Hery Miller
Hery Miller
5 years 10 months ago

In nature soft surfaces to run on do not exist. You either creep through thick cover, trying not to step on anything, or you run on a hardpacked trail. While the trail is softer then concrete, it isn’t by much. Grok did not spend much time on sand – nothing grows there so there is no reason for aythiing to be there. (Prey is near food)

I love running not concrete barefoot.

Ron
5 years 10 months ago
I think it’s voodoo, but I do have a friend a nurse, who has the skechers. For years she’s had an issue with a new replacement she had due to cancer. She would complain about her knee and having tough days to the point she’s thinking about disability. She purchased the sketchers about a year ago and she says the long days do not bother her. She’s not the type to buy into hype, she’s not an athlete, never heard of Vibrams, and thinks the Paleo / Primal way is suspect. But I do believe that she feels these shoes… Read more »
gordon
gordon
5 years 10 months ago

I have a friend who wore the Sketchers for about a month. She advised that since she started wearing the shoes, she suffered knee, hip and back pain which were not present prior. She’s decided to dump the shoes and go back to regular runners.

Lori
5 years 10 months ago

If I want to be 2 to 3 inches taller and don’t mind some instability, I’ll wear high heels. At least they look good.

Jay
Jay
5 years 10 months ago

Nice Lori – you made me smile 🙂

rob
rob
5 years 10 months ago

I also think these shoes are absurd; however it will be a cold day in heck before I go around barefoot.

Going barefoot is for people who are too poor to afford shoes.

Paul C
5 years 10 months ago

You are right. It’s also for people that don’t want to get hurt and want to feel more.

You aren’t wearing gloves now, right? Or are you……

gracie
gracie
5 years 10 months ago

Initially I got lots of guff from my chiro for going barefoot most of the time.

He did eventually realize that I don’t turn my ankles or torque my knees the way I did when I was wearing my Danskos.

Between you and me, though, I do still keep a pair of Danskos around for the tradeshows I work where I have to stand on a hard surface all day. I’ve tried moccasins for those but my hips feel better if I use the Danskos.

Denise
Denise
5 years 10 months ago

Great info. I get asked about these rocker shoes all of the time…I hear stuff about relieving back pain, plantar fac. etc…great if that works for you. But, the claim of increased muscle recruitment etc…has proven to be BS. While I still haven’t attempted to run in my Vibrams, by wearing them for several hours several times/wk my feet are so much stronger and more stable. Balls in shoes? Seriously, crazy.

JohnC
JohnC
5 years 10 months ago
I personally think that Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars are a good compromise, they’re cheap, they are so thin you can feel the ground through them and you don’t need to build up heavy calluses to use them. I play ball hockey in them which involves a lot of sprinting back and forth, I sprint in the park in them on rough trails and I have cleaner ones I just wear out and about. They have one downside: they don’t have ideal traction on wet pavement playing ball hockey but the ability to feel the ground more than makes up… Read more »
Ruby
4 years 6 months ago
Hey there… I’ve been in that camp with you. When I saw what Vibrams were all about, I figured, “what’s wrong with a pair of Chucks?” After all, it’s just literally a few layers of fabric and rubber between you and the street. As long as the toe box is big enough to let your toes spread out, you should be good to go, right? In fact, I’ve always had a pair of converse in my shoe collection, but recently, I’ve been wearing them exclusively while traveling in London, because transporting shoes with bulky heels or platforms (my going-out shoe… Read more »
George
George
5 years 10 months ago

Quick question for you. For those of us that live where it snows, do you have a “shoe” that you would recommend? I have Vibrams but I think in the snow they would be unbearable. Anything you can think of as a minimalists winter shoe?

JohnC
JohnC
5 years 10 months ago

I run (well sprint actually and play ball hockey) all year round except in deep snow in these:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuck_Taylor_All-Stars

niall
niall
5 years 10 months ago

Hey George,
There is a neoprene version called the flow. Most of the time though I run in lightweight running shoes like the Adidas Mana. I have seen guys on days when the high is -20’C using the KSO VFF model, but to me its just a little too cold to wear them in those temps. On really cold days (yes colder than -20’C)I run in normal running shoes, like the Lunar Glide.

Hope that helps

Paul C
5 years 10 months ago

George, I have seen suggestions that I am going to try this winter.
* sandals, like huaraches.
* Thick winter socks, with or without sandals, depends on temp/wetness of road. May have to do some sewing to make split socks that work with the sandals.
* Some do go pure bare foot but don’t risk frostbite with temp that is too cold or too windy.

Erin
Erin
5 years 10 months ago

If you’re going to walk barefoot outside in winter, practice curling your toes under each time you lift your foot off the ground and stretching them upward when you set it back down. Sounds weird, but it keeps enough blood flowing through them to stave off frostbite. I’ve gone on several hour-long hikes in a northern New York January this way, and I’ve still got all ten!

JohnC
JohnC
5 years 10 months ago

Try Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars. I sprint and play ball hockey year round outside in them except in deep snow.

George
George
5 years 10 months ago

Thank you all for your replies!

Robin
Robin
5 years 6 months ago

Vibrams is coming out with winter boots! 😀 YAY!

Melyssa
5 years 10 months ago

Hi Mark,

I just recently started following your blog and I enjoy reading it.

Ah, as a newbie runner, newbie barefoot/minimalist shoe runner…..I cannot justify trying Shape-Ups, etc.

The notion of needing a thicker sole on your shoes does not register in my head. The shoe companies really have people fooled.

I wonder how many foot or ankle injuries these shoes will create.

Melyssa

Seadanes
Seadanes
5 years 10 months ago

A few years ago, before I learned about Vibrams, I bought a pair of MBTs. I have no idea why, but other than flip flops (and now My Five Fingers), they were the only shoes I could walk long distances in without experiencing foot and knee pain. They were the first thing I found that I could wear hiking that alleviated the pain I’d get in my knees coming downhill. Now my Five Fingers have become my preferred hiking/outdoors shoe. But the MBTs were great for me.

Lynn
Lynn
5 years 10 months ago

My MBTs were the ONLY thing I could wear when out of nowhere plantar fascitis (sp?) hit and hit hard! I was in tears after being on my feet for any length of time. Now that most of that pain has gone, I’m great with barefooting, etc. But, I also had to learn to stretch properly, etc. I highly recommend the MBTs if, like me, you come from a bad place and didn’t know better to begin with to start your healing. Does that make sense? 🙂 Thanks much!!

Keith
Keith
5 years 10 months ago
Totally agree about the potential dangers of MBT/Sketcher platform technology, and the ridiculousness of likening these unstable elevator shoes to aboriginal foot placement patterns. About a year ago, I (formerly chronic cardio, including ultra marathons) started wearing Vibram FiveFinger shoes for running. I did so thinking they made a heck of a lot of sense. Had great experience immediately, yet also residual doubts based, for sure, on years of exposure to running shoe propaganda about the need for heavily built-up shoes. I found myself wearing my Vibram FFs (Bikila model) for nearly every run, and loving it. Not long ago… Read more »
CRS
CRS
5 years 10 months ago

All I know is that every person I’ve ever seen wearing these shoes has been middle-aged and overweight. I don’t see trainers wearing them at the gym, I don’t see runners running in them, and I certainly don’t see any professional athletes using them for any sport of any kind. They are marketed as an easy solution to a very complex problem: “lose weight and tone your muscles without actually exercising or cutting the garbage out of your diet,” which to me smacks of gimmickry.

JD
JD
5 years 10 months ago

Precisely.

richard
richard
5 years 10 months ago

been using MBT’s for a while. they are ok..nothing beats barefoot on wet sand.

Sharon
Sharon
5 years 10 months ago

I tried on the Sketchers Shape Ups and knew instantly that they weren’t for me. I would have broken my neck if I had tried to wear them!!

Jenny
5 years 10 months ago
I just wanna say, I have worn MBT’s for years and recently switched to Sketchers because they were more easily available. I love them. When I am on my feet all day at my two jobs or on vacation doing large amounts of walking my feet never hurt! I never have to sit down to rest my feet or get home and have sore feet. For me its just the added bonus of cushion on the bottom. I also have a friend that owns a bakery and is on her feet all day long, she wears her MBTs for the… Read more »
Hery Miller
Hery Miller
5 years 10 months ago

The sad thing is these look normal so you can wear them to the office. Five Fingers do not look normal and your boss will send you home for wearing them.

I’m wearing Nike Frees, but I hate them (first day). Seems all the normal looking barefoot shoes are sold out. I’l risk the five fingers on jeans Friday.

Brian
Brian
5 years 10 months ago

Mark,

Maybe the folks at Masai Barefoot Technology developed that absurdly unstable shoe to recreate the years when we learned to walk. Observe any two year old trying to walk, heck it looks a lot like an “anti shoe”.

Larry
Larry
5 years 10 months ago

But Mark, what about the “extra benefits”? About a year ago (before I’d ever heard of paleo/Primal) a friend posted a picture of the Sketchers on facebook saying that she was going to get some. Somebody else called them “B.C.S.” because the shoes were so repulsive that they would qualify as Birth Control Shoes. 😉

Andrea
5 years 10 months ago
MBTs are crap. Period. I tried the MBT Shoes some years ago and they are stiff. You can’t walk normally. It’s true, the muscles have to work harder (the wrong way) and this will strengthen some muscles. It is like weightlifting with bad technique: you will gain strength but you pay the price later. Shoes as exercise tools? PLEEEEZE gimme a break! Toning? Last time I checked it was squats, lunges, sprints and a clean diet. I like Puma h street sneakers or Asics Tai Chi for walking or exercise outdoors. Minimal footwear is best. They strengthen my muscles in… Read more »
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Kethry
Kethry
5 years 10 months ago
I’ve had a pair of the Sketchers for a year now, and if I have any long distance walking to do or standing all day, those are the only shoes I’ll wear. I’ve tried to do standing jobs like tradeshows in flat shoes and I paid for it with knee, hip and back pain for days afterwards. IMHO, for some of us there is a time for bare feet and a time for thin soled shoes and a time for thick soled shoes. Just need to listen to your body and do what’s best for the situation. And have alternatives… Read more »
fitmom
fitmom
5 years 10 months ago

I’ve noticed that almost all of the people posting here who love the MBT-type shoes all say they are great for standing–nurses, people on their feet all day.
I think for tourism-type all-day walking and standing on the job, the thick cushion and instability activating leg muscles would feel good.
I always thought of myself as a walker, but I put my VFFs on for the first time, and I just wanted to RUN…

slacker
slacker
5 years 10 months ago
I tried MBT’s, which I regret because even at clearance prices those things are absurdly expensive. They made things worse for me with my multiple joint and balance issues. I suppose they might be good for certain people, but I don’t know who that would be. I’m embarrassed to admit I tried them. It was a total case of falling for a gimmick. On the other hand, I LOVE my first pair of SoftStars and expect to make a habit of them. I like the grounded feeling from greater sensing of the surface I’m walking on. I think they make… Read more »
Catherine
Catherine
5 years 10 months ago

I have not tried any of the footwear mentioned above, but you don’t mention Fit Flop. I have a pair of these and I love them. Like walking on air.

http://www.fitflop.com/

Jzoe
Jzoe
5 years 10 months ago

All in all we’re just thrusting way too many unnecessary technology onto ourselves. Who’d of ever thunk that walking or running had to get so complicated???

Although I do run with Vibrams on, I usually walk barefoot at parks. I hate getting attention in general, but when people watch me ‘being crazy’ it sometimes irks me. I want to say to them, ‘quit sitting on ura ss and MOVE!’

ChasC
ChasC
5 years 10 months ago
Hello, As much as I love MDA and agree with you on most things, I think you missed the point behind MBT shoes — or it could be that their advertising is now more for toning and exercise than when I found them a few years back and they centered on providing a more natural walk. No argument that barefoot on natural ground is best. Unfortunately, we don’t always have that option in our vocations. My wife’s a nurse, and we’re avid walkers and hikers. She has been combatting work-related hip and knee issues for years since she was a… Read more »
Vanessa
Vanessa
5 years 10 months ago
Quite a few years back I wore a lot of MBT’s and thought it was the way to go (you learn to upgrade all the time and do what you think is best at the time!!). In those days I was quite flush (hence 4 different pairs of MBT’s) and also specialized in MRT (Muscle Release Technique) for repetitive use injuries and felt that all the info on them made sense. So I gave them a real good testing and was careful to increase wearing them slowly etc and after quite a long time I realized I was having hip,… Read more »
Ika
5 years 10 months ago

Tons of my co-workers wear those sketchers rocker shoes LOL. And then they asked me “how can you walk around in those thin soled shoes all day?!” So I tried to explain, but I don’t think they got it 😛 I wear Vivobarefoots to work and around town, but at home I tend to go barefoot. I was always like that, even as a kid I hated shoes, so thankfully I did something right and have super-strong feet now! YAY being barefoot! 😀

Jeff
5 years 10 months ago

I agree with how absurd this is. I’ve tried it and it’s not comfortable at all.

Sigi
Sigi
5 years 10 months ago

I have tried the Reetones, and don’t like them. Admittedly they do seem seem to activate greater muscle/energy use in some way – walking just seems more challenging, not unstable at all, more like walking on wet sand, simply harder work which I guess is their selling point. But they feel clunky and not particularly comfortable, and I don’t like the restrictive feeling – it tires me out rather than giving me more spring in my step. I don’t know how the hell anyone could wear them all day long!

Sigi
Sigi
5 years 10 months ago

But then again, I know several people who absolutely love them and swear by them. Horses for courses. Just not my thing.

John Marschke
John Marschke
5 years 10 months ago

I spoke with an 80+yearold gentleman with a history of falls at the gym where I work who was wearing a pair of the Sketchers approved by his therapist. The poor man had to lean on the wall in order to stand while we spoke. Have the majority lost their good sense?

Erin
Erin
5 years 10 months ago

What happened to the regular moccasins you used to be able to get (usually marketed as slippers), the ones made out of a single piece of sheepskin with a separate piece of leather for the tongue? All the SLIPPERS I see in the stores nowadays have rubber soles, and they’re supposed to be for wearing indoors! My grandfather and I had pairs of the plain soleless ones when I was little, but I haven’t been able to find them since.

Henry Barth
Henry Barth
5 years 10 months ago

Try L. L. Bean: http://www.llbean.com/

and Orvis: http://www.orvis.com

For that matter, Zappos and Amazon.

Cullen D.
Cullen D.
5 years 10 months ago

Search the web for “softsole moccasins”. Minnetonka manufactures quite a few styles, but you can also find a good many better quality ones from independent shoemakers’ websites.

Iluvatar
5 years 10 months ago

I did not have the time to read all of these great comments – NOR – read & digested your post completely.

But with that said, I used to run 3-milers in bare feet when I was a 15-year old.

Man! I used to run so fast w/o shoes!!

Whoopie!!!

If you can – go for it in bare feet!!! I do EVERY time I have the opp!!

Grok on!!!!!!!

Clint
5 years 10 months ago

My wife bought a pair of the easytones, despite my best efforts to dissuade her. The fat salesgirl who recommended them would obviously know better than her personal trainer husband.

Myself, I do all my running barefoot now and use Chucks for most day-to-day stuff.

Dawn
Dawn
5 years 10 months ago
Great post! I cannot believe how absurd some of these “new and improved” shoes are. I have been a bit of a klutz all my life, and buying my first pair of V-Fives was the best thing I ever did. Suddenly I was light on my feet and walked and ran with ease! Now, when I have to wear “regular” shoes (such as for winter, as I live in CO), I find myself tripping all over the place. Not fun! And all the people I have seen wearing those silly Skechers Shape-Ups have been overweight, and obviously out of shape,… Read more »
alhaddadin
alhaddadin
5 years 10 months ago
This is so dumb. It’s the same logic behind all the informercials touting “new and improved, effortlessly simple solutions” that actually end up being five degrees removed from the simplicity they’re trying to emulate. Anyone remember The Hawaii Chair (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9_amg-Aos4)? That sh*t was WACK. I think the difference between the obviously silly concept of the Hawaii Chair and something like “barefoot toning shoes” is that, as you said, it sounds like some kind of technological breakthrough. People who want fitness without effort will say, “Hey, this takes an asset I already have – feet – and allows me to utilize… Read more »
salim
salim
5 years 10 months ago

no vibrams..no minimal sho..i have been running totally barefoot for 6 months…all my injuries healed..i even do my sprints on grass and can run on rock terrain with a heavy backpack..it is even easier than with the shoes..go barefoottt:)

Daniel
Daniel
5 years 10 months ago
Just thought I’d share this RL True story for people who love their shoes, One of the best jobs I ever had was packing parachutes, at a commercial drop zone. Now, you want to talk about a full-body workout,… lol. We were mostly packing the tandem chutes (designed to bring down two people) and this involved a lot of jumping up onto and off of the packing table – a long carpet-covered platform – to get these great beasts folded, smushed, & packed in a tiny bag, just the right way. You have to work barefoot – any shoe might… Read more »
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