Momma Needs a New Pair of Shoes: A Review of Masai Barefoot Technology (MBT) Shoes

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Hard to believe though it may be, a pair of shoes really can correct your posture, diminish back and hip pain, and even give your legs and core muscles a workout! And those shoes are the Masai Barefoot Technology (MBT) shoes. It all started with my aunt…

As many of you know, in April I suffered a herniated disk in my lower back. This followed my having been diagnosed in March with advanced osteo in my left hip. Whee!

Fast-forward to October, after months of physical therapy and chiropracty. My back still isn’t stable, although it’s definitely better. As I put it when people ask me, “It’s better than it was, but not as good as it was before that.”

Meanwhile my hip continues to deteroriate, although the deterioration is, we hope, being slowed by my PT.

It was in October that we dropped in to visit my uncle and aunt in Carmel. Nearly the first thing out of my aunt’s mouth was “look at my shoes! Have you heard about these? They are the asai Barefoot Technology shoes!”

Uh..excuse me?

I looked at her shoes. They looked like sneakers with thick soles and a cutaway heel. Kind of a cross between Famolares and Earth Shoes, if you remember either of those (and, if you do, you’re dating yourself!)

My aunt then proceeded to rave about how these shoes are this advanced technology that is supposed to mimic walking on sand, and how it causes your body to constantly adjust your posture, keeping you aligned and forcing your core muscles, glutes and leg muscles to fire and correct and work.

Uh huh.

But then came the clincher.

“And since I started wearing them about a month ago my back feels so much better, and my walking feels better, and I’ve lost a whole pant size!”

Ok, that got my attention. Being a woman of a certain age, and so having been socialized in a certain way, the instant appeal was losing a dress size without having to do any extra work. But of course, that wasn’t what my aunt was saying. She knew my back and hip problems, and was suggesting I try these shoes out for that reason, wise woman that she is.

I went home and researched Masai Barefoot Technology shoes (MBTs, are they are affectionately known) on the Internet. And the reviews were very hard to find, and about evenly split. People either loved them, or felt apathetic about them.

Thus I wasn’t sure whether to try them or not, particularly as, hey, these shoes are not cheap (about $250.00 before tax).

So I decided that on Tuesday, when I was going to be seeing a friend who has a medical background, and is also someone who gives careful consideration to things, I would ask her if she had heard of them, and what her opinion was.

On Tuesday, as I walked up to her to ask her whether she had ever heard of MBTs, and what she thought of them, I happened to glance down at her feet, and..yep… she was wearing a pair of MBTs.

That pretty well clinched it, and I bought a pair that weekend.

Now, here is what you all want to know: Yes, they are worth it. They are worth every penny.

I bought the white sport unisex version, and I actually ended up getting a size too large at first, and even with them – you know what? You really do feel as though you are walking on sand. You really do feel yourself working your core, glute and leg muscles.

And after I returned them and got the right size, wow!

Now, a word about sizing. It’s really important to get the right size, just as with any shoe. However, going too large is just as bad MBTs as is going to small. In my case I at first went with a size a bit too large, because that is what I am used to doing, as I’m always in between sizes. That was a poor choice, and when I got the next size down, it turned out to be perfect.

Also, some styles run a bit larger than others. Their unisex styles, like the ones I got, run a bit wider and bigger than do, say, their womens’ styles.

And check this out! I got mine from the Walking Company, but they now carry them through Amazon(!), and so you can get them with free shipping and no tax!

I got the MBT Sport in white, which is this one:

(Click on the image for more info)
MBT Sport - (White) Free Powerbelt with Purchase

But they are also available in a myrid of other styles, such as the cute blue “Lifestyle”:

(Click on image for more info)
MBT Lifestyle - (Blue) Free Powerbelt with Purchase

…and the sandals, which is what my friend has. This will be what I get next, as they are the kind that you can wear socks with without it looking too dorky:

(Click on image for more info)
MBT Sandals - (Black) Free Powerbelt with Purchase

6 thoughts on “Momma Needs a New Pair of Shoes: A Review of Masai Barefoot Technology (MBT) Shoes

  1. G’day mme Annie,
    – i’m aretired mechanic& motorcycle racer: along with the attendant bruises,cuts,closed head injuries,torn groin from falling off the roof…this has resulted in a search for pain relief:
    1-DIET & supplements.
    pls goto
    http://www.notmilk.com
    www,doctoryourself.com
    http://www.newstarget.com

    2-ROLFING, aka structural integration, is the biggest bang for your buck treatment. Thirty years ago,i cldn’t walk ten feet sans ankle/knees seizing up,headaches etc. Ten treatments [wch is the whole shebang] & mobility restored&no dysfunction.

    3-TraditionalChinese Medicine.This,as You know, is 5k yrs old& with the right practitioner can make You feel 20+yrs youngeras it addresses the physical&energy facets of the body.
    Now factor in yr super new shoes…

    cheers,
    dar
    ‘i’m not a complete idiot,
    some parts are missing.’

  2. So glad the shoes are working for you! I have two pair now, because the first ones squeezed my toes a bit. I got unisex black ones; not only are they a bit wider, but the last is not curved the way the women’s last is. Hedi’s Shoes will be getting in the “spring line” in January, so I plan to get more! Can’t wear sandals, or at least shouldn’t do so, as a diabetic–sigh. Hedi’s is upstairs from Allegro restaurant, so we could combine pleasures . . .

    Auntie BJ

  3. Last year our personal friend and inventor of the MBT, Karl Mueller, departed from his MBT kingdom in order to pursue other inventions and creations. At first we felt that this would not at all have an impact on the MBT product, which seemed to be at such a high quality and outstanding level. Nor did we feel it would impact the company’s business units as Karl had partnered his brand with many excellent people worldwide.

    On the business side we were wrong: immediately MBT’s US subsidiary in Idaho (our direct business partner for the brand) was completely reorganized and new managers were hired, most of whom had made their previous careers in the low end and discount shoe businesses.

    Their first move was to completely change the MBT product line: out with the old and in with the new. Even more significantly, on the product side we were unfortunately also wrong: having recommended, fitted and sold over 5,000 pairs of the entire MBT product line since 2004 from both our brick & mortar and our online virtual stores, it quickly became apparent to ourselves and to our customers that most of the MBTs produced after Karl’s departure were not even close to what we had become accustom to…

    In particular, starting in November 2007 we began receiving a plethora of complaints from customers that their MBTs were wearing out — of the outsoles and collapsing Masai sensors — already after only three weeks of usage (on http://www.FeetFirstFitness.com is a picture study of the outsole of the MBT Sport comparing the older and the newer product executions).

    Since then we have also wear-tested many of the new Spring 2008 MBTs and, also unfortunately, the results have been extremely poor: POOR FIT, COLLAPSING MASAI SENSOR, PREMATURE & COMPLETE OUTSOLE WEAR, LACK OF STABILITY, EXTREMELY HEAVY… And as a result somewhat reluctantly, we have now decided to no longer sell the MBT in our store until (hopefully) the former quality of this once-great-product has one day been completely restored.

    Just as we had been so enthusiastic in communicating and promoting the MBT brand when it was in its prime, we hope you understand our decision that we can not support any of our former efforts, convictions and recommendations based on the poor product quality issues present in almost all of the current MBT products. Quite frankly, there is no way we could recommend & sell the MBT in its current execution FOR OVER US$ 200!!! and expect our customers at all to continue to take our advice and recommendation seriously.

    To conclude, it appears that even more significantly than driving the MBT creation and innovation, Karl Mueller, during his time at the company, was successful in maintaining the MBT shoe’s high execution standard of quality production. With him no longer involved, we are convinced that the MBT is no longer what it once was… and that anyone who has been as involved with the MBT as closely, as thoroughly and as long as ourselves is similarly in complete agreement with our position.

  4. Dear Readers

    I must say its interesting how we all feel we can develop a device is capable of “correcting” our bodies. What is fact is that the body is designed as a close to perfect engineering device. As youth we run around barefoot, fall down hard, get up and never seem to have chronic pains result.

    What is interesting is that the feet are designed to have a natural spring mechanism. One to absorb shock of the body in the “spring down” mechanism and two to propel the body forward when the spring unloads. If the spring of the arch locks we create compensations that cause abnormal movement patterns that cause harmful stress and strain, wear and tear in the joints that interconnect to the foot. This wear and tear will not allow the body to heal from simple injuries as well as cause its own injurious forces.

    I have rebuilt thousands of feet meticulously by hand spending hours repositioning bones, releasing fixations in the arch mechanism, reducing spasticity with my hands then rebuilding patients arch spring strength with advanced exercises for 15 years or more.

    What I have found is that it is impossible to return motion back to a stress free state in the body without releasing this locking of the mid arch of the foot. To do this it requires hours of deep tissue and a skillful force which is quite strong to release this mid arch. After adjusting it many times and setting the foot in a shoe to maintain the foot in the more perpendicular position the stress and strain can come off allowing the body to heal

    There is no shoe in this world that can deliver the specific force to release the arch to allow the elastic recoil “spring mechanism to return to the arch. This is what is required to set the body into a more stress free motion to allow feet, knees, hips, backs and other areas to heal

    Barefoot is the most perfect motion Unfortunately we as adults dont do the motions which are required to exercise the muscles which support this spring mechanism That would require undulating terrains, changes of direction from side to side and other non-forward motions. 65% of the population is overweight or obese overloading the arch of the foot and we wear leather binding devices which weaken our feet even when we exercise These are called shoes

    Why is it that children fall down hard and almost always heal to a completely pain free state without chronic pain as a complication? Its because they run around barefoot, changing directions constantly and have fairly balanced bodyweight over the arches.

    For more information watch lectures presented at international medical conferences discussing this subject from http://www.teamdoctors.org

    Dr James Stoxen
    President Team Doctors

  5. I have both sandals and sneakers, it’ve worked fine with me. Really help me escape from my back pain promblem. Really want everyone to give this shoes a try.

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