Friday, May 25, 2007

A Better Way to Walk


Trying to solve my hunched back, my weak knees, and husband R's painful back, we decided to try the new Earth Shoes. These are built with a "negative heel." The ads for Earth Shoes indicate that wearing them will allow you to walk correctly, with the heel lower than the sole. So off we went last week to the only store in our area stocking selections.

The walking shoes made my feet appear as small boats.(To you, seeing the photo, they appear "normal" size. The negative heel isn't apparent.) The toe box was roomy and the laces tied tightly. A good fit. Standing straight was an easy feat. Feeling like I was leaning on my heels, I testily walked around the store. Hmm--not bad. But the salesman thought I should try another brand just to get a comparison. Out he came with a pair of walking shoes with a curved sole promoting "neuro-muscular/proprioceptive training, lower limb blood flow, and postural and gait adjustment." MBT, they're called: Masai Barefoot Technology. (The Masai are known as shoeless natives.)

These shoes looked even bulkier than the Earth Shoes, but felt much better on the feet. The rocker sole gave one the feeling of floating across the floor. However, the price tag was considerably higher.

While I pondered the shoes, their prices, and their fit,, R decided to
try on a pair. He immediately liked both types, but the Earth Shoe was on sale--$100 off!! He bought two pairs, while I decided on the Earth Shoe, salivating for the MBT's. I, too, settled on Earth Shoes.

We were cautioned upon leaving that we should wear our shoes each day for a short time. Ignoring his advice,the next day we walked a mile in our selections, only to understand better the caution we'd received. Without practice wearing the Earth Shoes, the muscles in our legs and feet feel strained until the change in our posture and gait occurs. We have to wear them for a few hours daily in order to adjust.

Now R is ready to discard his other shoes. He has noticed an immediate change in his posture. As a woman who loves shoes, my discarding all others is a difficult decision that will take a bit longer. In the meantime, I have bought a pair of Earth Shoe sandals so I'll wear both pairs more than any other.

MBT's will be on our list for next year. Expensive? Yes, but the improvement of our neuroskeletal makeup is proof of their importance.


Anonymous said...

I own both Earth and MBT shoes. I only wear the MBTs on paved surfaces. Sometimes the balance just seems too precarious for hiking. And the manufacturers recommend not wearing them on wet surfaces. Having said all that, they really are terrific shoes if you have bad knees like I do. They really lessen the impact. The Earth Shoes are comfy, too. My legs don't feel as fatigued as they used to after a long walk. Needless to say, after spending the money on these shoes, I economize by getting the rest of my wardrobe at thrift stores. But being able to walk in absolute comfort is worth it . . .

CabinWriter-- said...

Anon, you are my kind! I agree that paying for these two types of shoes means being frugal with the wardrobe, but our knees come first. I love the MBT's but opted for the other so I could get a pair of Earth sandals, which I wear constantly. And my posture is certainly "looking up."