MBT footwear is-how shall I put this delicately-some of the butt ugliest shoes ever made. I mean I’m talking Medusa-level ugly. As ugly as a confrontation between Ann Coulter and facts. I mean, MBT sneakers are not attractive shoewear. Picture those shoes that Cosmo Kramer was wearing on the episode of Seinfeld when he was mistakenly identified as a candidate for the Special Olympics. So why are they so hot, then?
The advertising campaign behind MBT footwear promotes them as “the world’s smallest gym.” Obviously, they’ve never seen my exercise cubicle. What do the makers mean by that slogan, though, and what makes these shoes so different from anything else on the market? The primary aspect that differentiates these shoes-aside from their refreshing nonchalance toward trendy fashion-is that their design is manifested by a reflection of the world in which we walk, rather than vice versa. Most shoes are not designed with reality in mind; just think “high heels.”
The Earth, in case you hadn’t gotten the memo, is not flat. Although certain elements of society cling stubbornly to concepts such as the world being flat, or supply-side economics being something that works, in fact neither of those things are true. The world is an uneven place and I’m not just talking about the quality of Martin Scorsese movies. New York sidewalks aside, most of us tend to walk at some point in our lives over various textures, up and down hills and valleys, and through and across other impediments to smooth locomotion. The developers of the MBT footwear have attempted create a shoe that serves to lessen stress on those parts of the body used in the process of walking, while also helping one to develop better coordination.
Masai Barefoot Technology. Just as the African tribesmen are responsible for the introduction of Hoodia as a dietary supplement, so are they responsible for the MBT in MBT footwear. The African Masai tribe are an indigenous people who walk either barefoot or with the slightest of sandal material. They have organically developed a long, loping stride that has a certain springing motion to it. The makers of the MBT footwear have attempted to create a shoe that mirrors the method of Masai locomotion that ends up being smooth and continuous rather than a series of motions that result in individual shocks and stress.
The MBT shoe works, ironically enough, by inducing instability into the act of walking. Because the world isn’t flat, walking itself is an act of instability. But because shoes aren’t designed to counteract this fact, unnatural stress must be applied. By building shoes that force the appropriate muscles to act in order to create the necessary stability, the promise of these shoes is that they will alleviate some of the spinal problems associated with improperly designed footwear. Do you know what first words of advice out of any doctor’s mouth to a woman who comes in complaining of back shoes is? Ditch the high heels. Fashion has created generations of neurological patients. This is what they mean by that “world’s smallest gym” thing. Walking in a pair of MBT footwear actually exercises your muscles.
Getting back to the aesthetic quality of the shoes. The fashion is based on the benefits. To be serious for a moment, MBT sneakers don’t really look like those Seinfeld shoes-Jimmy’s down! What they do look like is a rocking chair. When standing upright by themselves, neither the toes nor the heels actually touch the ground. The soles are bowl-shaped and this is true whether in sneaker form, boot form, dress form or sandal form. Yes, MBT footwear come in styles to suit every occasion. None of them pretty, though. Nor are they cheap. And I’m not talking Air Jordan not-cheap. Prepare yourself, okay. You ready?
Even on eBay paying less than a $150 for MBT footwear is a bargain. The retail prices start in the neighborhood of $250. Thinking about going for a sandal in the hope of saving money? Prices start in the $230 range. On the other hand, of course, $250 is a lot less than the tens of thousands you may be paying for back surgery later on in life.