A Lower Body Workout And Less Back Pain - Just By Wearing Different Shoes?

By Fiona Saunders

Karl Muller, a Swiss engineer, noticed whilst walking barefoot through a rice field in Korea that his back pain, which he suffered with, was very much better. After a little further research he learned that the Masai tribesmen of Africa do not suffer from back pain. They also display excellent posture.

Muller concluded that walking barefoot on soft, yielding ground was significantly better for your back and joints than walking on hard surfaces. He decided to develop a shoe which would reproduce the effect of walking on a soft surface such as sand or grass.

Muller eventually developed the Masai Barefoot Technology (MBT) range of footwear. It is so different to normal shoes that it needs to be thought of as the "anti-shoe".

The key component to MBT shoes is the specially engineered curved sole with no heel. This encourages a gentle rolling motion whenever your foot comes into contact with the ground. It is, in fact, just like walking across sand in your bare feet. Materials of different densities are used at different points in the sole and this also contributes to the effect by reducing jarring and minimizing impact shock.

Independent trials have now proven that this is genuinely much better for your back and joints. There are additional proven benefits over and above improved posture. Whilst walking normally wearing MBT shoes for example, the wearer's muscles are active for a longer period of time (in comparison with normal walking wearing conventional shoes). The duration of muscle use is increased by around 16%. Wearers also tend to take shorter steps. Both of these effects maximize the amount of work carried out.

The end result of this is that every step you take wearing MBT shoes is providing you with additional exercise. It's a lower body workout while you walk. So, as well as alleviating back pain and improving posture, MBT shoes also help to tone your legs and trim your buttocks.

You would think that would be sufficient wouldn't you? However, in spite of all these benefits, some people find that MBT shoes are a little chunky and not that pleasing to the eye. MBT shoes are also a little more expensive than standard shoes (although the benefits may make them good value for money). Happily, there are now other alternatives available which work on the same basic principle but which are more aesthetically pleasing. Both Skechers Shape Ups and Fitflops have similar curved soles which are specifically designed to increase the length of time that muscles are active and to tone both legs and buttocks whilst doing nothing more strenuous than walking normally.

Whichever brand of footwear you go for, the opportunity to reduce back pain and trim your lower body at the same time - all whilst doing nothing more energetic than walking normally - seems to be very attractive. - 32188

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